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A Matter of Fact
Rabbit Jack: Motherboard #1. C
© 2023 James LaFond
APR/7/24
He crutched up the street, a main street, the name of which eluded him. The pavement was free of automobiles until the next intersection ahead, at the top of the hill, to the west, where, once again, power and light poles had been pulled down along with the wires that were their reason for being. The power lines were then woven in a terrible tangle among cars and poles to form a web of ruin. The houses on the corners had been shattered, effecting great piles of ruin, as if someone did not want vehicles driving around through the corner yards.
“Caw, caw, caw,” came the crow sound behind him. He stopped. It was an excuse, pretending to be alert, to rest, and looked down the way he had come. Where Bucket Head had rolled into the gutter, by whatever urge had compelled that man to roll himself there, a roil of rats teamed, still building.
Further down the way, was that odd skull-festooned mailbox, upon which Bucket Head had some how mounted his own head before staggering up hill and rolling into the gutter. There, a single turkey vulture plucked out an eye and flew off as a murder of crows blackened the lowest quarter of the sky and descended upon that oddly bucketed head.
“Life is strange,” he heard some fool mumble out loud.
“The Brickmouse House,” drooled a bigger fool, recalling thru the haze of sheer pain that there were people there who had healed him before.
He looked ahead longingly for a sign of that house, knowing as he did that it was surrounded by a small field of clover where rabbits were protected by the man and woman who lived their… “My, oh me, they had names once when I was young.”
He noted on his right an overgrown lane, what must have once been a little used side street become a tunnel of greenery, oaks hanging over, the tops of which had been splintered by the crashing plane that sank ominously upon the wreckage of the houses behind him to the right. Weeds, bamboo and banana trees grew in an arch over this dandy little lane that he now hustled to:
“Step,
Clack,
Drag.
“Step,
Clack,
Drag…”
So wore the desolate cadence of his progress…
And he drooled, turning right down the eerie lane so faerie fair to his one jaundiced eye. In a world un-kissed by the sun, then secret places of nighted beauty recommended themselves to the dayfarer.
Great houses, overgrown in weedy profusion and home to gangs of raccoons on the upper levels and coyote dens on the lower, reposed back from the tunnel-like canopy of woody greenery and greedy weeds.
To the left a coyote rose, yawned and yipped.
He turned in a start to see that pack of coyotes rising to some grim mission. Then close by he heard a gurgling, snort of a growl, something metallic about it that told of no true beast.
The coyotes all looked at him astart, and, as if with long practice, he rose with a growl on his firm leg and slammed the steely ends of his crutchery down upon the crumbling curb and snarled, an oily snarl, a snarl filled with frothing malice.
The coyotes laid back down reluctantly as the raccoons, thirty of them above nesting in windows, eves, oak limbs that had married and even pierced the shingle shorn roof, observed the neighborly inetraction.
“Step,
Clack,
Double-drag with a snarl…” told of his gruff progress to a lesser tunnel of greenery to the left, a tunnel gated by two great oaks.
This was, he somehow knew, a tunnel that at one time had continued to the right, but where that onetime alley was jammed by the wing of a downed airliner, broken off and tumbled upright between two half shattered trees, vines and their wedge shaped leaves of deep green having made of this wreckage a wall.
He paused. Straight ahead was an intersection he remembered, occupied by a heap of empty automobiles, as if stacked there by some great claw machine fishing from the sky for the vehicle its operator prized, neatly discarding the rest.
To the left, yawned a green tunnel of paradise, a corridor of hope and renewal he knew in his bones he had traversed once and many a time.
‘The Brickmouse House is up there and to the right—yes, seated upon a spring of cool water to drink!’
Clack,
Step,
Clack,
Step… rang his more urgent cadence as the remnants of his mind recalled tea with honey, chocolate with sea salt, whiskey with cinnamon—all of the wonders of the healing world.
Crutching upward within the soft green tunnel, the squirrels scurrying aloft, he saw a rabbit, a big, fat, brown rabbit. This rabbit did not regard him with the fear due his station, did not even seem to worry that he was too near. The rabbit merely nibbled upon some clover, and he knew he was near to the healing place where the nice man grew clover for his little friends.
“Bro, your shit is fucked up,” came the voice of the rabbit, a bit of a plastic voice, but a voice nonetheless.
He stopped, “What?”
“You heard me, Hamslice; you on Death’s very door and just stupit enough to see a ray of hope up the way, makin’ of you a duped dope.”
He stopped, dumbfounded, a poor memory was one thing, but insanity—it might be time to take a header off a roof.
He crutched towards the rabbit and it did wince, then perked up and faced him, rising on its hind legs and putting up it’s little forepaws like dukes. Bamboozled, he said, “Rabbits can’t talk.”
The rabbit did a little boxing step and milled its forepaws, “En neither can vacuum cleaners, you scrap-built piece of junk!”
He crutched forward menacingly and the rabbit beeped, “Come on, bring it, bitch!”
That is when he noticed that the rabbit had a little brown backpack with a radio antenna, and wires going into the rabbit brain.
He backed off and looked around.
The rabbit then stopped menacing and began wiggling its nose on all fours again, “So you ain’t as stupit as all dat, hah, Hamslice.”
“Why do you call me that?” he asked as he looked around for whoever was controlling this rabbit.
“Because your shit is so fucked up you look like a ham done had too many slices carved off, complete with the skewer still stuck in your spiral arm.”
The rabbit began leading him along as the tiny backpack spoke, “You about done, son. You need some healin’ en Rabbit Jack, your meat guide, needz some o’ dat good-ass clover da Tinman do grow.”
The dizziness was pronounced as he crutched along and then turned when the rabbit made a right between two broken down buildings, a big garage and a small brick spring house.
There it was!
“The Brickmouse House!” he drooled.
The rabbit ducked aside as the man spun on his crutches and nearly fell, “Oh, you on yer las’ leg fo sure!”
A force of will rose within him, inflamed by the castigation of this rabbit, and steady he did stand.
“You got it, Hamslice, one step at a time, all downhill from here, right through the back door.”
Below him, between this gravel weed bed and the beautiful brick house, flanked by a ruin on either side, was a field of soft green clover where rabbits grazed.
“Thanks for telling me my name. What’s yours,” asked Hamslice.
“Oh, I’m Preston, across the alley in the bunker house. My avatar here is Rabbit Jack.”
“So, Preston,” he asked as he crutched, “how can all of these rabbits survive here? We have at least a dozen coyotes three houses back.”
The rabbit backpack answered, “Now look left, up the way, under the fallen roof, skulkin’ like a black cat do, come fo some rabbit, new to dis hood.”
Hamslice saw the black cat skulking there.
The backpack then spoke as if to another, “Mama, dis nigga confused…”
Then his right eye, which he could not see with, opened up like an old TV screen, with a pretty Asian girl sitting at a news desk with a phony city skyline behind her.
“Wow, you’re pretty—I’m Hamslice.”
The woman wrinkled her nose and looked off set to some third figure and scolded, “Preston, no wonder he’s confused. Poppy, stick with Poppy.”
She then smiled back into his inner eye and said, “Poppy, repeat after me, ‘Chamber One.’”
Glad to be of use to such a picture of sweet innocence, Hamslice Poppy repeated, “Chamber One,” and a metallic whirl sounded behind his right ear, causing a shoot of pain down into his neck and back and shoulder, then making a steel pin sound.
She then smiled, saluted to him, said, “Clear,” and disappeared, his right eye turning into a magnifying bullseye.
Preston then said, “Poppy, track left until you see the black cat.”
He did so, noting the cat eyeing the rabbits hungrily on the far northwest side of the yard. The inner circle about the cross marks then expanded to encompass the cat and began to pulse and he new what to do, “Fire,” and a steel dart launched from his shoulder with an unerring fishtail precision, skewering the cat and pinning it to an exposed beam of the ruin.
Wonder struck, he stood their among the clover, rabbits grazing all around, two with little backpacks on, “Me, the coyotes keep off ‘cause of me?”
Rabbit Jack then beat a drumbeat on the boot of his dead foot and Preston’s voice came from that backpack, “Poppy, that is a matter of fact.”
“I’m blessed; I have a home,” he drawled, hanging between his steely arms, as he shed a tear, only to be corrected by the toy backpack, “Whateva—yo shit is still all fucked up, get in to Mamma!”
The man named Poppy, no longer derided as Hamslice, was then served the further indignity of being herded into the beautiful brick house he fancied was his home, by a backpack bearing rabbit.
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