There are tricksters, and there is hunger, but where the tale ends and the brutal truth begins, there is Fox. His serviette cinched tight in Möbius strips; a russet shadow at Rabbit’s steps. And there is Rabbit, her phonograph flickering hesitantly; long eared embers of faded memory. Hunter and prey. The last to be devoured.
When Fox was famished he found Rabbit somnambulant. Her paw an amnesiac relay race through the vacant parkades of Alzheimers. Once wily, all her coyotes now wizened by old age. But back in the day, she dreamt in aphrodisiacs of sunflowers and satellites. Tenderfoot twitching amidst the office towers. Tar in the tar sands. Babies in the aftermath. Oh raging mess of exponential growth!
“What? Who?” Rabbit woke, a lonely record lapsing through old folks homes and hotels. Unfamiliar territory, where strangers and family changed faces like shuffled suits. Woke to Fox at the far end of a veiled kaleidoscope; frustratingly familiar yet unremembered foe. To Fox, fraught, yet unwilling to eat the worst of her. Fox who offered: “Turtle? Slipped by while you slept. Something about a race.”
Poor Turtle, long since shipped off into the global melting pot. His shelf life a statistic; road kill beside a trade-deficit death-toll booth. Nothing left to tell now of Turtle but polished fragments in Rabbit’s memory: “He wore the deepest blue.” she recalled, and then in the key of shame, “He made the races great again.”
“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” Reaching for her walker, one lucky foot before the other, fearing neither Ausla nor Hatters more than a ticker-tape photo-finish of a failure. “America,” she thought, “loves a winner. Runners up whore themselves to Hollywood.” She shook her head, the effort burning effigies in her cartoon graveyard.
“It’s me, Rabbit.” whispered Fox. “Bright eyes, bushy tale, told in beauty products which say ‘But not beautiful enough.’ Told in high definition, more real than reality. Sold in modern fables free from morality. The choice to choose whichever channel defines them. One opiate to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. We watched the best media of our generation shuffle off into reruns; waylaid in rest stops; relegated to rest homes; forgotten, forgetting; penniless in palliative care.”
“It’s me Rabbit.” urged Fox. “Cancer causing cola rescues puppy from a tree! Take your selfies by the pipeline, get your instant celebrity. Sound-bites slash savings on the emperor’s haute couture. Alternative prevaricators skeletally demure. Static hums. From the self imposed solitary confinement of an armchair holocaust the mantra comes: ‘It’s a dog eat dog world, and from where I’m sitting there just ain’t enough damn commercials.’”
“It’s me Rabbit. Once upon a time wolves danced sleek and beautiful while the world trembled. Then all the billionaires chainsawed all the hippies in all the rain forests, until there was nowhere for wolves to run. Till they were all strung up on barbed wire, and riot shields, and the spin, and the spotlight. And who so shall take the pelts to wear them as their own? And oh what big lies shall they tell? ‘All the better to pursue nations who aid or provide safe haven, my dear.’”
“It’s me Rabbit. Fox. Brother to wolf, cousin to coyote, refugee raconteur from the fires of industry. Weaned off of table scraps and soot and misery. On the wrong side of the tracks; on the wrong edge of suburbia. From garbage cans and hubcaps; from a land filled with hubris. Shrink wrapped in sheep’s clothing. Bought and sold and bought again; from sea to shining sea. Cash on the barrel-head; cash on delivery.”
Was that a flicker of recognition?
“It’s me Rabbit. Fox! Who went to the strip mall. Who went to the box store. Who got marked down on the way to the warehouse discount wholesale outlet, and who hoarded in vain. Pirate my intellectual property, ye mighty, and despair.”
Finally Rabbit’s stars aligned. She found herself on the stairs of the morning after. Finish line fine embers. Wake up call in the wilderness. With wonder, wonder in her eyes.
“Fox! Oh fox!” Her frail paws pull him close, wrapping him in this; this bliss; this tearful blinking cherished treasure. Rapture and remembrance. “I know you!”
“When did we forget? We are all beautiful wolves inside, and you Foxglove, sleek and wondrous! How long long a lullaby?” she sighed, “What fools we have been. Drunkards in the ale house of old age. Final fatal canaries in the birdcage.”
“Take it from this old spinster, this meniscus of simple truth: no cock has crowed who didn’t later adorn your dinner plate. Yet behold, these listless limbs barely bare me. I am a failure even as a feast. Both of us, abandoned by all we clung to. Even our children, when did they last come to? Easier to change a light bulb than a lifetime; easier to accuse than accept; easier even still to forget. Besides those were someone else’s children; who would be so cruel? But we were, weren’t we? And you are, aren’t you?”
“Rest now sister Rabbit,” whispered Fox, holding Rabbits frail form close; heartbeat flutter against his hollow chest, “I will carry you from here.” and with that, he snapped her neck.
Simon Giles is a software developer from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.