Jodie always had a story or a trick, or maybe just a joke to
tell. He started doing this thing where he would turn his two front pants pockets inside out and yell “kiss the bunny”. The pockets being ears, his “bunny” thrust forward. We all laughed, the way he said it, the look on his face. It was funny. Funny at first, then funny when it was so wrong.
Between logging work, pipeline work, and any fool other kind of work we were scattered over three states that summer and fall. Winter remembered who we were and started bring us home. I was sitting in O’Roukes Diner at the west end of Main Street talking to these two girls, them being friends of my sister, and me wishing they were friends of mine. We were catching up on local disasters and gossip. I hadn’t noticed but Jodie’s old car was parked on the side. Working or not he’d live in that car. Only the longest of winters could get him back staying with that Aunt of his. He stumbles and mumbles his way in to wash up and wake up. One of the girls, Lynn it was, looking to make her
girlfriend laugh sings out with “Hey Jodie how’s that bunny of yours?”.
Another place or another time would have made the difference. With job sites closing down, crews breaking up for the season and moving on strangers, even strange strangers were common enough. I didn’t notice the two of them in the booth till I saw their ears go up. Way up. Now everybody’s people but not all people are human people you could say.
They were hard, weathered, scarred up bad old jack rabbits. Prison tattoos and real “on the edge of someplace bad attitudes”. They had pay in their pockets and were looking for fun or trouble, seems to be the same thing to them.
The first one grabbed Jodie’s shoulder and spun him around. The second reaching for something tucked down the back of his belt.
“You got something to say about bunnies, asshole?” the bigger one said.
They were big old boys with hard flat eyes, big yellow teeth, and real twitchy whiskers. Jodie was scared, we all were. As bad as things were, it all turned around when old Beatrix walked in.
One look from her, just one look and it was all “yes Ms. Potter” and “no Ms. Potter” and “ We weren’t really goin’ hurt him Ms. Potter” and “But what he said Ms. Potter!” Now she’s been keeping the peace between the tribes, as they say, around here for probably better than a hundred years, so there’s no back talk to her. Those two old rabbits were scuffing their big feet, looking down and shifting their weight. Jodie was doing no better.
Her voice carried clear when she said “I had my two bad mice, my foolish hedgehogs, my dear scamp Peter and his cousin Benjamin. I have endured all manor of nonsense concerning brocks and tods, but I shall not have this.”
She had Jodie apologize, and told the hares to hit the road and quit looking for trouble. It all shook out pretty quick considering. Beatrix Potter got her watercress sandwich and ginger beer to go (she paid the rabbits tab too, I noticed) and was out the door.
We were pretty quiet, but after a bit Lynn says to Jodie “maybe you do the one about the duck instead.” I had to laugh at that.
by – Doug Mathewson