Ok. So I’m under this internal crushing pressure to make another post, slave to the kudos, acclaim, and all that. I thought I’d go a different direction today, a little lighter, different. I’ve reworked an old anecdote I heard many years ago, as part of a character study I was developing for a novel that never quite got its launch. Without further ado, please enjoy.
The cicadas were buzzing with gossip the balmy day my sister Winona came cutting across the lawn heading at me like a destroyer hunting the Bismark. Her hat cut the humid summer air like a steel prow, the advance just ahead of two steely piercing glints of disapproval at life in general and me in particular. Winona liked things to be Goodnproper. I was the furthest thing from the sunny land of Goodnproper she could imagine. My auburn hair poked stubbornly in a number of different directions, and my sundress was worn and torn in places proper young ladies wouldn’t allow. My hands and knees were grubby from mulching the peonies, and my bare feet were almost black from a day spent in the garden. Winona, on the other hand, was as crisp and angular as I was blowsy and bedraggled. One had to keep a certain wary distance from her. It was like handsewing denim, one never knew when the needle would burst through the thickness and poke painfully into your finger. She inventoried me from head to toe with a glare and a haughty sniff, and said
“I’ll be going to Boston in the morning.”
I could tell she thought that explained everything I needed to know. The silence lengthened awkwardy. I wracked my brain for the proper response, not wanting to seem too anxious for her to be on her way.
“Err. errm. Uh, ok. Have a good trip,” I said, noncommittally.
“I’ll be back from Boston on Saturday.”
Ah. The rest of the puzzle. This was her way of giving us all a much needed respite for several days I thought (to myself) quietly.
“I expect you to keep an eye on things while I’m gone.”
My sense of satisfaction skittered and hopped away with an intense hiss of evaporation, like a drop of water dancing in the breakfast griddle.
I was talking to the back of Winona’s rapidly receding hat. The “things” I was to keep an eye on, were the grand prize winning, blue blood, blue ribbon Angora rabbits who lived in luxury on Winona’s back porch. The veranda as she was fond of calling it. She said it the same way the emporer said acropolis. One was simply swept away, swooning with the grandness of it all.
Early Saturday morning, as I walked down the winding path to Winona’s for my final check to make sure everything was goodnproper, I noticed my bluetick hound Gazoo picking his way up the path carrying something in his mouth. Gazoo walks funny. His hindquarters often swings out to the side like his front is walking too slow and his behind is trying to pass. Occasionally he’ll look back like he’s surprised and hurry along just a little to catch up. I was horrified as Gazoo dropped Winona’s favorite Angora *Grand Champion Buckwalter of Rhodent* at my feet. Buckwalter was very dead. He was also very dirty. I was quite sure Winona would not approve of either of those conditions. Swooping Bucky up in panic, I raced down the path to the house, my mind racing at fever pitch. I gave the rabbit a thorough double shampoo, rinse, and conditioner, followed by a careful combing and blow-dry. His lips were curled up in a curious position out away from his front teeth, making him look like he was grinning at some joke he heard over lettuce and carrots. Nothing I did would settle them back in their proper place. After some rummaging around, I found some clear scotch tape, taped his lips to his chin and six or seven heavy coats of hairspray later, finally got everything looking goodnproper. I was just finishing a natural positioning of Buckwalter in his cage and closing the door to his cage when Winona arrived home.
“See??” I said innocently, “everything’s just Bucky…..errr um ducky, I mean.”
She stared at Buckwalter. She stared at me. She peered intently into Buckwalter’s cage. Slowly she straightened and turned to me with a confused expression on her face.
“That’s funny”, she said. “Buckwalter died the day before I left for Boston, and I buried him on the backside of the garden.”