Friday, March 30, 2012

The Rabbit Story (part two)

(Part one is here)

...Oh no. Oh no, oh no.

“Hey!” the Big Band Boy said, “I think he’s hurt!”

“Wait there!” she yelled, “I am coming up!”

They met in the stairwell. He was younger than she first thought. Her age, maybe 24 at most, with wavy brown hair, and a long pointed face with large brown eyes. He paused a second seeing her and in that instant she saw herself though his eyes; the shaved and dyed black hair, the thick black eye liner, pierced nose and the tattooed sleeves.

“It’s not my rabbit” she blurted out, gesturing down her hallway “my neighbor’s…”

“Can you get to it from your apartment? Or maybe a key… do you have a key?” he asked hurriedly. He’s as frightened as I am, she thought.

She shook her head, thinking. Poor Martin! What if he fell further? The bars around the fire escape were widely spaced; the fall would kill him, or worse. She shook her head again, hating the images shooting though her imagination.

“I think I can get to him from my window but…” he looked even more frightened. That took her off guard. “I am afraid of heights.” he said finally.

“I’ll get him.” She said, “yes, let me try… he knows me.”

She grabbed his arm which seemed to startle him out of his thoughts, and they both ran up the stained carpeted stairs to his apartment. The door was open and she could see the backyard lights out the window. It was nearly the mirror image of her own apartment, the linoleum kitchenette, a claw foot tub. All those details she took in as she went to his window.

It was higher up than she thought. She could make out the faint ghostly shape of the two pale lawn chairs far below in the grass. Sweat trickled under her bra down her back. She grabbed the iron railing and it moved slightly. It didn’t feel safe. Looking down she saw Martin’s ears twitch once, and he kicked the edge of the ladder going down, his feet slipping between the grating. She held her breath, and he was still again.

“It’s me Martin” she whispered, moving slowly, and consciously grabbing  each of the bars of the rusted metal railings. A slight breeze picked up, three stories above, she fought not to be completely terrified in the sudden movement of air. Martin, thankfully, remained still.

It felt otherworldly, or, more accurately, she felt outside of herself. Part of her brain screamed, I am not doing this! Another part screamed relentlessly NO over and over like some bad techno dance song. The adrenalin that began to flow through her made her knees buckle slightly, the rusted bolts holding the fire escape to the building entered her mind’s imagination in high detail.

She somehow managed to crawl down the steps to get to the narrow iron grated platform where Martin sat like an immobile loaf of white bread. I should say something, she thought.  I should say something, so I don’t scare him. “Mar-tin” she finally managed, her voice cracking. “hey baby, hey bunny. Baby bunny. Whatcha doin?…”

She sounded like a small child. She hated how she sounded. She fought to focus on that thought, strangely enough, she fought the fact that she was uncomfortably high up on a rusted bit of metal barely attached to a rotting and crumbling old building.  Her life was held aloft by a rusted iron facade.

Martin was frozen. She was temped to freeze as well. Bolts and heights and empty air and hard concrete filled her head like members of a hung jury. Biting her lip, she crouched next to him, and in one swift breathless motion, she grabbed him up to her chest.

In a moment of sudden energy, the frightened rabbit grunted, then kicked out. She felt his teeth hit her forearm, scrape against it rather than bite into it, his startlingly powerful back legs kicked her ribs, raked across her left breast and dug into her belly. It stung, but she barely felt it. She was as if frozen in time, standing in the dark, on the shaking fire escape, desperately trying to hold the insanely frightened animal to her chest.

So, Big Band Boy saved the day like a man from a movie. He had broken into Ginni’s apartment. Like a comic superhero, he had kicked in the door. He appeared, the hall light behind him radiating like a sunrise around him. Then he was just a hand reaching out to them in the rain. The very real and wet rain that fell with sudden cinematic thunder and lightning, a deluge of cold water running through her hair onto her scalp and down her neck and back. In seconds, she and Martin were inside. Shaking like an idiot she let the frightened animal in her scratched arms go on to the floor. Martin promptly bolted across the carpet, kicking like a demon and eventually racing into the bathroom, finally to disappear under the claw foot tub.

She was crying. She hated herself, but she still fell on her knees crying, she couldn‘t help it. Part of her was so embarrassed, and she hurt but she was relived at the same time, She covered her face in her hands choking back the sobs, still on her knees. Throbbing lines from the rabbit’s back nails cut across her chest, burning newly sharp and hot.

Big Band Boy stared awkwardly down at her on the floor with his dark brown eyes. The hair in his beard was reddish around the corners of his mouth. And then he smiled. The next minute he was on his knees and his arms were around her. She couldn’t stop shaking.

After a spectacular crack of lighting followed by epic rolling of thunder, all the lights went out. They heard Martin thump the linoleum floor in Ginni’s bathroom and Big Band Boy laughed. Soon they both were laughing, she laughed with the tears still hot on her cheeks, she laughed  in the arms of a stranger, on her housemate’s carpet, in the dark, the sound of rain hitting the windows like tapping fingers. The very thought made her laugh more, and a sudden cool wind blew through the apartments of the old house. The rabbit thumped again on the soft linoleum floor. The uneven breath of the Big Band Boy was hot against her neck.

Eventually, of course, the moment passed. Though it remained dark in the house, the street lights from across the street somehow remained on. Big Band Boy got up and closed Ginni’s apartment window, and they both went into the hallway, closing Ginni’s damaged door behind them.

“We should leave a note? Or something…” he trailed off, looking at her in the filtered street light that streamed through the hallway‘s one leaded window.

She felt bold. She felt drunk. It now rained heavily outside, blowing fresh cool air through the stagnant old house from the remaining open windows. They were now strangers who had broken into the neighbors’ apartment to save her rabbit. A rabbit who was now hiding under a clawfoot tub, angry about being picked up.

She almost laughed again but instead grabbed the brown eyed boy‘s arm again. She somehow led him into her apartment without being awkward or shy, the pink curtains turned purple in the blackout, curtains that were now moving against the storms’ air push through the screen like independent, abstract modern dancers.

In her room , alone in the dark, they were both were like new conjoined twins. “I’m Samantha” she blurted out like an idiot.

“My name is Henry” he said, not letting go of her arm. Then his arms were around her again and he was holding on to her as if to stop her falling apart,  or maybe just to keep her from falling at all.

“Adrenalin.” was all she could say, she could not stop herself from shaking. Until he kissed her.

At first startled, she then kissed him back, and somewhere in that heavenly eternity, the lights came back on with a plastic click. ‘Henry’ was the only thing left that she could get her mind around, ‘his name is Henry’.

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