Circle of Life

Under a punishing sun in the midst of Kenya’s vast grasslands, a zebra’s luck is running out. It has attracted the attention of three starving hyenas. The zebra is ahead of its spotted pursuers but the predators are gaining on their striped prey.

Out of the thirty zebras drinking and bathing at the water hole, this one drew the short end of the straw. It ran left when the other zebras went right. The wrong choice.

Were it not for the cut on its left thigh, this zebra could have escaped its drooling hunters by now. At top speeds, zebras leave hyenas in the dust. These hyenas are running faster than hyenas ought to. These starving pups are desperate for a meal. This zebra cannot be allowed to escape like the others.

But it seems that may happen. The zebra is beginning to pull away. The hungry hyenas are starting to tire. Days of hunting without a kill has weakened them. Their legs give way beneath them. Fortune is on the zebra’s side for today.

The hyenas growl and whimper at one another as yet another zebra gets away. The two bigger hyenas eye down their younger brother. The small one bares its yellow teeth and barks. It scurries away with its tail beneath its legs. Its elder brothers keep close.

As the calls of the hyenas grow silent, the zebra slows. The endorphins fueling its strength run out. The zebra moves aimlessly until it finds shade underneath a tree. The cool spot under the branches and leaves of the Acacia tree is a rare place of comfort in the Kenyan grasslands. The zebra lies down, exhausted.

Its comfort ends when the whooping calls of the hyenas return. The calls are louder and more frantic. A clan of twenty hyenas is converging on the zebra.

The hyenas fight with one another, snapping and cackling. One hyena bites the ear of its brother. They each want to be the first one to satisfy their hunger.

The hyenas are like a swarm of hornets. They’re biting, ripping at the zebra before it can make a sound. To the human eye, the zebra appears to be calm and at peace as though it has accepted its fate. But death for this zebra is as agonizing and painful as death can be.

The calm that human observers claim to see is the zebra’s body going into shock. The zebra feels each rip and tear of its flesh and bone as the hyenas wrench it open and pull out its organs. Its senses dull as the blood seeps out of it. Its vision will blur and its hearing will lessen, but its pain receptors stay intact until its last heartbeat. If the zebra is fortunate, it may die a quick death. An overeager hyena could bite down on its heart and ends its misery.

The sight of hyenas feasting on zebras is distressing for human on-lookers, but this is what becomes of animals on the losing end of the circle of life.

 

Cartoon Network to Reboot Johnny Bravo In 2017

Deadline has reported that Cartoon Network will move forward with a new version of their late 90s hit, Johnny Bravo.  The show is being retooled for modern audiences and will be released in 2017.

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Johnny Bravo debuted in 1997

We reached out to Christy Millhouse, president of Cartoon Network, for further details on the new show.

The show will be titled, Suzy and Johnny and is geared to be a more woman-friendly show. The Johnny Bravo character will be a sidekick to a young woman named Suzy. Suzy, a little girl in the original series will be the same age as Johnny in this new series and the new main character. The show will explore the dangers of street harassment and the struggles that the modern woman faces today.

The pilot episode will start with an apology to the audience from Van Partible, the original creator of Johnny Bravo. The rest of the episode will be Suzy explaining to Johnny why his approach to women is wrong.

During our online correspondence, Ms. Millhouse let us know what this new cartoon meant for the legacy of Cartoon Network.

“Johnny Bravo was a dark chapter in Cartoon Network’s history. We had this musclehead character harassing and sexually objectifying women for laughs. He was a symbol of the toxic masculinity that permeates our society,” stated Christy Millhouse. “He kissed a girl in one episode without her consent. We’re not proud of that. We influenced a generation of young men. We have Johnny Bravos out there now who think approaching women aggressively with bad pick up lines while flexing their muscles and dancing is okay. It is not. ”

As part of the modernization process, the old writing and animation teams will not be brought back for Suzy and Johnny. The new creative team is headlined by Andromeda Antony, a woman with a bachelor’s degree in woman’s studies, a master’s degree in gender studies, and a doctorate in woman’s gender studies.

We did not reach out to her for comment. She called us up. We still don’t know how she got our number.

“I’m loving this chance to change history. 2017 will have a new Johnny Bravo that women will love. I can’t share all the details now but expect a softer more feminist Johnny. The muscles and ugly yellow hair fin are gone. And with that goes the chauvinistic humor too. The influence of the old show is felt to this day. Some man tried to holler at me as I biked to work. He said ‘how it’s cooking, good looking.’ He objectified me sexually and assumed that I cooked. I do not cook. I am a strong proud independent woman who orders take-out every night. No woman should feel as threatened as I did when that man said that to me. Events like this occur because of shows like the old Johnny Bravo. ” said Ms. Antony.

With a new Johnny comes a new catchphrase. Fans of the show may remember Johnny Bravo would say “do the monkey with me”. His new catch phrase will be “fight the wage gap with me. ” We didn’t ask Ms. Antony for any more details, but she let us know the new show has had its conflicts behind the scenes already.

“One of the women on the writing staff said she found the old show funny. She said it was humorous for a muscly guy to be a dumb wimp who was terrible with women. She said she found the pick-up lines to be witty. I told her none of that is ever funny. Johnny once got in a woman’s view, moved in close to sniff her and then said ‘You smell kind of pretty. Want to smell me?’ That is not funny. She had to be let go. She thought the misogynistic comments were funny because society pressured her to find that funny. The poor girl had no mind of her own.”

Suzy and Johnny is expected to be shown on Cartoon Network in fall of 2017.

The Great Bunny Robbery 2: Bad to the Bun

Hoppy Easter!

The sequel to a story about friendship, bunnies and the nature of man.

GBR2
It is said by some that the preparations for a wedding ceremony were more enjoyable than the wedding itself. There at the wedding, everyone gathered to revel in the union of two souls. Timeless photos were taken of the couple and their families. Stories of the past were shared. And two parts became one. There was a delight to the wedding day but the true joy was in the little things that made up the big day. Some thought the satisfaction of creating the wedding invitation, making friends with other engaged couples and tasting potential wedding cakes was the most joy they could find in life.  Some people found so much joy in the preparations, they ended their marriages so they could go through it all over again.

Karyn thought those people had to be committed to the nearest mental clinic. The preparations were hard work. Time-consuming and stressful. Karyn was to marry Reese Tail.  The two were birds of a feather and completed one another. If they were birds, they would be Australian ostriches. Both tall with strong slender necks and quick on their feet. Reese would be a tick quicker than Karyn as he was a squirrely guy and Karyn’s ostrich would be weighed down by her many tattoos.

But to get back to Karyn the person, she was going to be at her happiest once she was married and off on her honeymoon. She and her fiance, Reese Tail were going to be speeding through the sky on a fighter jet hundreds of miles above the earth. The wait for this was killing her. Figuratively not literally.

However, the wedding preparations were literally killing her. To be exact, they had taken seven years off of her life. Most of the damage to her mortality came from the precious hours of sleep she lost. She stayed up late researching wedding locations.

The lack of sleep leaked into her job performance. Before she started planning her wedding, Karyn had been Chick Fil A’s employee of the month for three months straight. She was on her way to being promoted with a huge pay raise. Once Reese proposed, Karyn became a manager’s nightmare. She got customer orders wrong. She came in late and left early. She was caught falling asleep at the counter. She would become belligerent when customers prodded her awake. She had to be placed on probation after she attempted to drown a rude customer in the lemonade machine. Karyn did end up finding a cozy little place for the wedding; an outdoor park she and Reese had hiked through on an adventurous weekend.

Karyn tried to include Reese in the wedding planning whenever she could but his unique ideas were troublesome to implement. After seeing Jurassic Park for the thousandth time, Reese had pushed for a dinosaur-themed wedding. He wanted him and Karyn to walk down the aisle in animatronic velociraptor costumes while the Jurassic Park theme played. He was very anal about the accuracy of the costumes. He wanted feathers like how the real velociraptors had had them. He and Karyn were to enact a velociraptor mating cry shortly after being wed. Jeff Goldblum was Reese’s pick to marry them.  Karyn shot this idea down once she saw the cost of Reese’s feather raptor costumes. They and Jeff Goldblum could not fit within the strict budget they had.

The date for the wedding had been set for August 15th.  The same day that Esmeralda, the world’s renowned bunny whisperer would come back to America after a tour through South Africa. She was raising funds to prevent the extinction of the endangered Karoo rabbit. Esmeralda was known to bunny pet owners for her philanthropic efforts towards buns. She was believed to be the one person who understood the soul inside of every bunny, rabbit, and hare. She was one of the few people on the planet that Karyn would trust to watch her buns, Siesta and Tempter, for a week.

Siesta was an overweight grey and white Mini Lop. Karyn took her for walks to try and get Siesta’s weight down but the bun loved her treats. She had ears like Eeyore and shared some of his down mentality. Her name was given to her for the long naps she took at the bunny reservation before becoming Karyn’s pet.

Her other bunny was a black Netherland dwarf with a heart as black as his fur. He was trouble. Siesta was the good one. She ate her treats and listened to Karyn. Tempter had a bad attitude and was prone to creative escapes from his cage. Eight months ago, he had convinced Reese’s good friend to bunnap him and take him on an adventure. The incident sent Karyn into a coma. Before that, he had manipulated Reese’s mother to take him to Six Flags and ride rides that no bunny would be allowed to ride.

After the bun-napping, Karyn took no more chances with Tempter. She used her tax return money to have a state-of-the-art bun containment room installed in the basement of the Tail house. The entrance to the room was hidden behind an old bookcase. To enter the room, a key code had to be punched into a keypad on the bookcase.  After the key code was punched in, the shelf would move to reveal the entrance. Inside of Tempter’s containment room was a transparent plastic glass that separated visitors from Tempter. The arrangement was not cruel. This was not a punishment for the bunny, but a precaution for his own safety. Tempter had been all for it. Escaping his steel bunny cage had become too easy. He wanted a challenge. Karyn had a radio installed that played music from light FM radio stations, Tempter’s favorite. He was not left in the room to rot either. Karyn would take him out most day for walks with a bunny leash. If Tempter behaved, she let him roam around the house under close supervision. The only way to release Tempter from his cage was to punch in another keycode into a keypad on the glass. Karyn entrusted that code to Reese, his mother, his father, and her own family. On top of the entry security, there was a laser system in place to detect if Tempter had escaped from his cage. If he attempted to escape, the door and window would lock shut and a text message would be sent to Karyn. No bun got in or out without Karyn’s knowing.

With the date and location set, the next step in the wedding planning was finalizing the list of wedding invitees. Sadly not everyone could make the cut. Karyn tried to talk to Reese about making the list but he danced away when the subject was brought up.  He’d find something in the house to clean if Karyn approached him with a piece of paper in hand. He’d go to work early. On one occasion, he jumped out the nearest window and hurt his toe.

Today there was nowhere to hide for Reese. Karyn had locked all the windows in their home. She had cleaned everything that could be cleaned and some things that shouldn’t have been. Today Reese had off from work. His excuses had run out. As Reese ate a bowl of Captain Crunch, Karyn sat down in front of him with a pen and paper in hand

After some prodding and some poking, Reese gave her some names of close friends and family. Then some more names of classmates. More names after those. Even more names followed those. A flood of names came after those. He didn’t stop. The list of wedding guests went from one page of printer paper to half a notebook.

This would not do. Not every Tom, Becky, and Zac could be invited. The budget did not permit it. The list was chopped down to one page. One more person had to be cut to get within the budget. It was proving to be a heart-breaking experience for both of them.

“Bill is my best friend! He has to be there!” pleaded Reese.

“I thought Big Rob was your best friend.” said Karyn.

“He is too. They both are.”

“I love Bill too, babe. But if Bill’s coming, someone else can’t. Like maybe Algie.”

“But Algie’s hilarious.”

“When’s the last time you talked to him?”

“In second grade. But he was hilarious.”

“Reese, we have to pick one person.”

Reese skimmed his finger down the list of names. He stopped at someone he didn’t recognize

“Who is this Ted?”

“My uncle Ted. You met him.”

“The one in jail?”

“He’s out now.”

“Is he that one who punched a bunch of preschoolers?”

“That was self-defense.”

“They were preschoolers.”

“They surrounded him. Like what’s the guy going to do if they’re all up in his face? He got scared.”

“My little cousin Percy is going to the wedding. He better not like punch him in the face.”

“If she keeps her hands to herself, there won’t be trouble. Maybe she shouldn’t be invited if she can’t behave. ”

“Maybe Ted shouldn’t.”

“I kinda already like promised he could come.”

“Unpromise him.”

“Before we get into this, could you call my cell phone again?”

Karyn’s cell phone had been missing for three days. She had become prone to asking Reese to call it at random times. It had not been in her car or at her job or at her other place she might have left it.

Reese rang her cell. There was no sound of a the phone vibrating on a table . The pair of them strained their ears for the tunes of Karyn’s ringtone, the chorus from Shakira’s “She-Wolf”. They did not hear Shakira’s “Awoooo!” but they did hear the SWAT Team kicking in their front door.

“Go! Go! Go!” screamed the  team as they sped into the suburban home like it was a terrorist hide-out. They were in standard SWAT gear. All black and armed with big old guns. The five SWAT team members trampled their way into the kitchen and aimed their big old guns at the hearts of Reese and Karyn.

“Oh my god!” screamed Karyn.

“Hands up! Don’t move! Drop any weapons on the floor!” shouted the SWAT team leader.

“I don’t have any weapons! I’m unarmed!” stammered out Reese as he raised his arms.

“He’s unarmed! Get him!” directed the SWAT team leader. A SWAT member to his left fired a taser into Reese’s chest. A thousand volts of completely legal electricity shot through Reese’s thin frame. Reese flopped like a Magikarp using splash.

“Reese! No!”

“She’s unarmed too, sir! What should I do?” yelled the SWAT member!

“Give her a taste of justice, kid!”ordered the SWAT team leader. The SWAT member pointed the taser at Karyn. She clenched her eyes tight and braced herself.

“Enough. Cuff them.” said a voice from behind the SWAT Team. A man with dark red sunglasses in a grey suit as grey as his hair and beard took command. His voice as serene and calm. His grey hair and beard were premature. He had to be in his late thirties. He lit a cigarette and took in a long swig from it. He had been waiting for the moment for a long time.

“Yes, sir!” replied the SWAT team. All five SWAT team members hopped on top of him and slapped their own pair of hand cuffs on him. He was unarmed so therefore he was incredibly dangerous. Five hand cuffs were needed to keep  him under wraps. They ran up next to Karyn.

“She’s mine.” said the man in the grey suit. He finished his cigarette and took out a pair  of hand cuffs. He cuffed Karyn’s arms behind her back.

“I been waiting on this a long time, Karyn. Your type of scum is the worst. You’re under arrest for multiple charges of bun abuse and bun neglect. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have”

“Bun Abuse?! I would never ever abuse a bunny!”

“We received an anonymous tip that your Mini Lop, Siesta has been stolen.”

“Siesta’s asleep in her cage!”

“Oh is she? Go find the bunny, boys. She’ll be in the cage down the stairs in the basement to the left.”

The SWAT Team blasted down the door to the basement and marched down the staircase.

“Doors have knobs you know!” moaned Reese. He had recovered from his taste of federal justice.

Sounds of rumbling and smashing went on beneath them. Reese tried to slide out of the five hand cuffs. Karyn exercised her right to remain silent and blew the hair out of her eyes. The man in grey suit lit up another cigarette. The SWAT team emerged with a bunny cage in their grasp. She saw the cage was empty. Her heart sank.

“Get these bun abusers out of here. Process them.” said the man in the grey suit.

The SWAT Team grabbed the couple by their legs and dragged them out into their big old black SWAT van. They drove them to their big old federal agency headquarters. The couple was separated upon arrival. Reese was uncuffed and thrown into a spooky steel interrogation room to await his big spooky interrogation. He sat down in a cold uncomfortable steel chair. He shifted in it, but no matter how he moved his buttocks he remained uncomfortable.

The door creaked open. It was the man in the grey suit and dark red sunglasses. He plopped a folder full of papers down on the table and then placed down a black mug that had “Special Bunny Investigative Unit” written on the sides of it in Arial Font.

“How are you doing? Thirsty?”

“Where’s Karyn?”

“Friends of mine are having a nice chat with your girl friend. Don’t you worry about her. Chill out, pal. Got your favorite drink right here. Lukewarm chocolate milk.”

The man in the grey suit slid the mug over. He forced a friendly smile onto his face. It was incredibly painful for him as he hadn’t smiled in years. But he was a federal officer of the law. Dealing with pain came with the job.  Reese stared at the mug like it was filled with poison.

“It’s safe, Reese.”

“How do you know that I like lukewarm chocolate milk?”

“It’s my job to know. I know how you and Karyn met at that St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2010. I know what time you and Karyn go to sleep. I know how Karyn thinks that the Evil Dead remake wasn’t that bad. But it was. There is no Evil Dead without Bruce.  I know everything about you and her. When Tempter went missing and you put up those billboards in West Philadelphia where you were born and raised, the Special Bunny Investigative Unit took an interest in you two.  We installed recording equipment in your basement to monitor the situation. ”

“Uh-oh.”

“Uh-oh is right. You and Karyn are in big trouble. We’ve got enough evidence of bun neglect to throw the book at the two of you. You’re looking at ten to fifteen years behind bars as the co-conspirator. She’s looking at life. You’ll both get the brand too.  It does not have to go that way. If you cooperate with me, you’ll get a slap on the wrist.”

“Cooperate?”

“We want you to sign some papers and confess to being a bad bun parent. You’ll never be allowed to own a bunny again, but you won’t go to jail. And we’ll need you to testify against Karyn in the trial. ”

“Never.”

“This is your life, Mr. Tail. Don’t throw it away for her. There are other women out there. Who don’t share Karyn’s ailment of having giant ears.”

“I like her giant ears just fine. I’m not talking to you anymore. I want to speak to my lawyer.”

“I get it. You love her. Get her to confess to being a bad bun parent and she’ll go to jail for ten to fifteen years tops. Is that a more suitable proposal for you?”

“I want to speak to my lawyer.”

“Bill? He’s been called.

” I prefer my chocolate milk made by non-douchebags.”

Reese pushed the cup away.

“Reese, I am a federal agent of the law. You do not call me, a douchebag. Or there will be severe consequences. I may take my offer off the table. And then you’ll have to have your wedding through steel bars. You work with me and maybe we can arrange a shortened sentence for Karyn too. You mess with me and she goes away for the rest of her life.”

“Douche.”

“You little shi-”

Someone banged on the other side of interrogation door.

“I’ll be back. I’ll forget what you called me. And we’ll start over. Think about your future and your wife’s future too, Mr. Tail.”

The man in the grey suit shuffled out as he had shuffled in. Reese ran his hands through his hair.

Agent Aonuma, the top operative for the Special Bunny Unit, frowned at the man in the grey suit. Agent Aonuma looked exactly like a young Jackie Chan. That’s because he was actually a young Jackie Chan who had time traveled to the future to prevent a terrible atrocity. But that’s a story for another time.

“Waa-yah! Cut him loose. The charges will not stick.”

“Mr. Aonuma, we have the evidence to convict him and Karyn. We have hours of tapes of these two off of the wire we installed after the bun-napping by Kwame.”

“Oooh! Yah! I am familiar with the tapes. Hiiiiiii! They will hold up in court. Only against Karyn, the legal owner of the rabbits. We can keep her.”

“But they’re engaged! He’s as much as an owner, sir!”

“No. Ha-chah! After marriage, he shares the ownership. Not before the wedding and the signing of the marriage license! Hi-yah! He only her boy toy in the eye of the law!” Agent Aonuma karate chopped the air to prove how serious he was.

“Tck. Details.”

“The devil in the details. Yah! Yah! Hiyah! You should have moved after the wedding. Learn from your mistake. Yes! Haha! Ach-cha! Now cut him loose.”

The man in the grey suit gritted his teeth loudly.

“What’s the status on Karyn, sir?”

“I was speaking to her. Ooooh. She want her lawyer too.”

“Just like him. They’re smart kids.”

“We are smarter. Get them in room together. Listen to what they say. Ha-cha.”

Back in the room with Reese, he was eyeing the mug with the chocolate in it. His stomach growled. He hadn’t finished his bowl of Captain Crunch before being arrested. He missed out on the gum cutting goodness. Reese fought the temptation. He wouldn’t give the douche the pleasure. His stomach insisted. He grabbed the mug and chugged down the chocolate. It was ice cold. He felt the wind in the room change as the steel interrogation door opened.

“Reese!” shouted Karyn.

The couple was reunited. They hugged like an old married couple would. You know like when you’ve seen somebody every day and then it’s been a while since you saw them. That sort of like I miss you but like not too much cause I see you enough but I still like missed you hug.

“Like this is like so crazy.” said Karyn.

“The craziest.” replied Reese.

On the other side of the door, Agent Aonuma and the man in the grey suit listened in to their conversation. Rather Agent Aonuma pressed his ear to the crack in the wall and relayed the information to the man in the grey suit.

“What are they talking about now, sir?”

“Ahh. Ah-cha. How crazy this is. It’s like the craziest. Like they’ve never seen anything this crazy.  ”

“Now what?”

“Now they speak of their lawyer. Some friend with the name of Bill.”

“He’s on his way. ETA. Five minutes.”

“Now they talk about the time they went to Wawa and saw a guy who looked like Carrot Top before he started working out. Oooooh no. Oh no. Oh no. No. AH CHA! HI YAH! This is terrible. ”

“Hang in there sir.”

“Now they talking about Broad City and how funny it is. How it is the funniest new comedy television.”

“A few more minutes sir before the lawyer gets here, sir. You can last five more minutes. ”

“Now they’re arguing who’s better? Ay! Ay! Ay! Ha-cha! NSYNC or the Backstreet boys. Karyn says Backstreet. Reese agrees.”

“They know we’re listening. Just screwing with us. No one could think that the Backstreet Boys are better than NSYNC.”

Agent Aonuma removed his ear from the crack. He tried to wipe what he heard from his ear. He shook his head. What he heard had seriously disturbed him. He thought about letting the bomb in Times Square go off. Maybe the future didn’t deserve to be saved.

“How you listen to them for three months?”

“I thought about my wife and kids. I thought how this was the biggest case of my career. All the money I could set my family up with if we convicted that bunny abuser and her co-conspirator. That’s how I kept going.”

Agent Aonuma checked his phone.

“Their lawyer here.”

Reese had five best friends. Ten if you asked him so don’t ask him. Bill was the longest tenured best friend of twenty years. He was the one Reese took all his problems to. Bill was the Swiss army knife of people. Jack of all trades and master of none. He had some knowledge on every subject. He could do anything but no things well.

So he was Reese and Karyn’s go to guy for any legal trouble. He was not officially a lawyer. He started called himself one after watching three court case videos on Youtube and every season of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He had none of the smarts and know-how of a real lawyer. He did came with one huge plus; he was free.

He barged into the federal agency building, donning a white t-shirt with the word “Lawyer” on it. He had on these turd brown jeans that had looked so much better on the guy in the commercial than they did on Bill. He carried with him a briefcase full of old grade school assignments to appear more important to everyone.

Agent Aonuma and the man in the grey suit reluctantly led him to his clients. Bill made demands of them.

“I am gonna need time to build my case. Under NATO, I am allowed to use any federal interrogation room inNorth America as an office for a court proceeding. Don’t none of you listen in or I’ll enact the whistle blower act and go Snowden on this federal agency.”

“None of that made sense. Do you understand what you said?” questioned the man in the grey suit.

“I plead the fifth and twenty-first amendments! ”

“You can’t-”

“Sssh. Pleaded.”

“Wise guy. Ha-cha. Let Mr. Bill use room here for all he needs ” stated Agent Aonuma. Bill shook hands with both officers of the law. Into the interrogation room, he went. The man in the grey suit raised his eyebrow above his dark red sunglasses. Agent Aonuma patted him on the back.

“Let him do what he want. Hi-yah. This case is ours. Ha-cha. He know nothing of basic laws of man. He won’t get his head round the complicated laws of bunnies. Easy conviction. Do not forget my words of wisdom! Hiiiiii! Be detail-oriented!  Now if you will excuse me, I have bomb to defuse in Times Square. Ha-cha! Ay Ay Ay! Hiyah!” Agent Aonuma somersaulted and back flipped down the hallway while making karate noises.

In the interrogation room, the defense for Karyn was being built. Bill opened up his briefcase and laid out some papers that were irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

“First thing’s first. The good news. Reese, they got nothing on you. You’re free to go home.” Bill said as he rustled through his papers.

“And Karyn? ”

“Bad news. She’s charged with five counts; two counts of aggravated bun abuse and three counts of bun neglect. If convicted, she’ll like get uh 15 to 25 or like 30 years or like may be life with no chance of parole. And she’ll get the brand.”

“What’s that?”

“Karyn knows more than me.”

“Reese, bad bun parents are branded like cows. They burn the letters ‘BTTB’ into your skin with a branding iron. It stands for Bad To the Bun. They burn it in so everyone can see it and know you’re bad to buns. ” said Karyn.

Reese covered his mouth.

“That’s crazy.”

“They take crimes against buns very seriously, babe.” Karyn coughed. She was starting to look dreadful.

“Babe, are you okay?” asked Reese.

“I need my shot of bunsulin.”

Karyn had such an attachment to her bunnies that should anything bad happen to them, she would fall into a coma. Much like how a diabetic had their insulin, she had her bunsulin shots to take when her buns faced hard times. She had not brought it along when she was arrested.

“I got you, Karyn. Thought you may need this.”

Bill threw Karyn her shot of bunsulin. It resembled an epi-pen. Karyn shot herself up and was back to herself.

“Thanks, Bill. ”

“Billie boy,  what can we do to save Karyn?” Reese switched the conversation back on to Karyn’s safety.

Bill ruffled through his papers.

“Uh…nothing?”

“Be more posi, Bill.”

“This is the federal government. They don’t take cases on unless like they are sure they will win. You know they have a 99.7999999999% chance of conviction.”

“I’m more worried about Siesta than me. She’s been bunnapped.  I can’t deal. Twice now my buns have been taken. It’s like I’m the mom in Home Alone 2.” Karyn sighed and looked down at her left hand. She had a tattoo of her two buns on the back of it. Reese comforted her. As Karyn sank into depression, a light bulb lit in Bill’s head.

“We gotta find Siesta!” said Bill

“We should. She could be in trouble.” said Karyn.

“And their case against you falls apart if we find her!”

“Does it, Bill?” asked Reese.

He sought the truth from his long time friend. The bun showing up would not be enough to have Karyn’s case dismissed. It was likely she could still go to jail for life. Bill could have told that to Reese, but he knew Reese needed some posi in his life  So he did what good friends do. He lied.

“Yes. Karyn will 100 percent absolutely be free if we find Siesta.”

Karyn shot Bill a glance. Bill shrugged his shoulders. She decided to play a long too. She wanted Siesta found more than anything. If Reese was on the case, it would get done.

“Where do we get started with that?” asked Reese.

“Tempter. He would know, babe. Buns that live together have like this psychic connection Go home. Ask him. Don’t let him out of his cage. No matter what he says. Do not let him out.  We don’t want two missing buns. ”

“I’ll find Siesta and get you out of this mess before the trial starts, my salami, eggs, and babe-con. ”

“The trial starts in an hour, Reese.” said Karyn.

“What?! That’s crazy!”

“They take crimes against buns very seriously, babe.”

In an instant, Reese was gone and on a mission to find a stolen bunny.

“You shouldn’t lie to him like that, Bill.”

“He needed some posi.”

“So any ideas for how I get out of this?”

Bill gave her a sinister smile. Then he toned it down to a mischievous one. Then a light smile like the one you give when someone you don’t like says a joke that’s really funny. And toned that down to a neutral face. Then Bill broke down in tears.  Karyn started to look on the bright side of things.

“If we have the wedding in a prison, maybe we can afford to have Jeff Goldblum.”

A bus ride, taxi ride, and a light jog got Reese home in fifteen minutes. He had roughly thirty minutes to find out what happened to Siesta, rescue her, bring her to the court and watch the love of his life be locked away in prison despite his best efforts. Reese did not know that last part was going to happen. so he kept his chin up and called his mother.

Reese’s ma and pa were at the annual South Jersey Parent’s Fair for the week. It was a fair for parents by parents. There they could live every parent’s dream and get away from their children for an entire week. All of them put aside money from their checks and paid into a joint account for the parents of South Jersey. The money went into the Parent’s Fair. This year it was at a luxury resort hotel in Philadelphia.

Mama Tail did not pick up. Reese left her a long message. She would get back to him if she knew anything about the missing bun.She was one of his five best friends so she was obligated to.

He left out of his long message the damage the SWAT Team had done to the house.The Tail house hadn’t looked this beat-up and destroyed since the Flyers lost to the Devils in the playoffs back in 2000. Reese hoped he’d have time to call a carpenter before the South Jersey Parent’s Fair was over. He’d worry about that crap later. Siesta was on his mind.

He stepped over the smashed-in front door. Some critters from the woods had made the Tail house their new home. A family of frogs swam in the sink. A snake cornered a baby mouse into the bathroom. A few conservative deer were catching up on the 2016 election in the living room. Reese asked the deer if they had seen Siesta out there. None of them had. He left them to CNN’s 24/7 Donald Trump marathon.

The basement was the place to start to find out what happened to Siesta.  He flipped on the lights. The SWAT Team had taken evidence out of the basement. Siesta’s bunny cage was nowhere to be found. All his pictures of Jesus were gone. Some of his book cases were empty. They had taken his game consoles.

Reese heard some rustling behind the couch he and Karyn watched TV from.

“Who’s back there?!”

Some guy stood up. He was some normal guy with some normal jeans and a T-shirt.

“Sup.” said some guy.

“What are you doin’ in here?”

“Taking stuff.”

“Get out!”

Reese shooed him out of the house. Some guy was never seen again.

The SWAT Team had not touched the area near the entrance to Tempter’s containment room. It was strange. From what Reese could tell,  they had been everywhere else.  Reese repeated to himself what Karyn had told him. Under no circumstances was he to let Tempter out of his containment room.

Reese punched the numbers into the keypad carefully one by one. The digits were the coordinates for the exact spot where he and Karyn met. He was doing this for her. The system clicked and buzzed as the correct entry was accepted. The bookshelf slid up to reveal the containment room for the baddest bun in South Jersey. There was a short passageway to walk in before you got to Tempter. Karyn had gone all out once Mama Tail and Papa Tail gave her the go-ahead to get a new room installed. Reese hated the walk to the containment cage. It was so dreary down there. Totally not posi.

His soft steps echoed in the passageway of slab stone and steel. Reese could see the foundations of his home. The passageway smelled like an old person’s fart in a brand new car. Karyn had tried to make the environment as pleasant as possible for Tempter. Off in the distance, he heard a beat that had to be Drake’s “Hotline Bing”. It grew louder as he neared Tempter. Finally he reached the transparent plastic glass that separated Tempter from freedom. The lighting could have been better in the containment cage. Karyn had expressed concerns about the quality of the lighting in there. Tempter had assured her it was okay. He enjoyed the dark. Reese saw all of Tempter’s favorite bun toys. Karyn had approved Tempter having toys that could not be used to escape. Among them was a wooden ball for Tempter to chew on and a toy cell phone that lit up. The pictures of he, Karyn, and the Buns from last Easter were on the side of the containment cage. He saw all the food and water Karyn had left for Tempter last night before she went to sleep. She always made sure to change it every day.

But he saw no Tempter. He was missing.

Meanwhile the trial was underway and Karyn’s goose had 99.7999999999% chance of being cooked when it was over. She and Bill at the defendant’s table. The trial took place in a municipal right across the street from the federal agency. The Special Bunny Investigative Unit was so efficient and effective at charging and then convicting bun abusers, the government had a municipal building built across the street to further speed up their process. The average trial for a normal criminal could take months before all the evidence was gathered and the , but the entire process for bun abusers took two hours on average.

Karyn was nearing the start of her second hour. Bill was anti-help. He had a trial by a jury of her peers changed to a trial by federal judge because it was easier to convince 1 person than 12. He failed to notice the man in the grey suit, Karyn’s arresting officer, was also the prosecutor in this case. He also failed to notice the man in the grey suit slipping hundreds to the judge as the evidence was being brought out. Mostly because Bill was engrossed in his golden wheat bread from Subway.

Karyn knew if anyone was going to save her, it was going to have to be her. She had to convince the honorable Judge Lacey she was a kind and caring bun parent. Judge Lacey hadn’t let a defendant off since becoming a judge. She was one of those people who thought it was better 99 innocent people be convicted to stop one guilty person from walking free.

The man in the grey suit chatted her up as the proceedings got started.

“How are the kids, Lacey?”

“Great. Bobby and Remy are in college now.”

“Already? I remember throwing the ball around with those two. ”

“I know! Kids grow up so fast. How long is this trial going to take by the way? I have some clothes I left drying at the laundromat. Should I call my husband and have him pick them up? Or will this be over sooner than that?”

“No need Judge Lacey. I hope to break my record and have this bun abuser in bars for the rest of her life within the next thirty minutes. ”

“Perfect! ”

She slammed her gavel down and got things going.”

“This court is now in session! The United States of America vs. Karyn. Karyn is charged with two counts of aggravated bun abuse and three counts of bun neglect. She will be sent to jail for life without parole and be branded with the ‘BTTB’ brand when she is found guilty.”

“Don’t you mean if I’m found guilty?” interrupted Karyn.

“Oh yeah. If. I forgot that part. Prosecution, you are up first.”

“I object!”

Bill had finished his bread and was now mentally locked into the trial. He knew objecting could not hurt his case.

“To what?” asked Judge Lacey.

“Me and Karyn need to go first.” said Bill.

“No. You’re overruled.”

“I object to your overruling of my objection.”

“Can he do that?” Judge Lacey was a seasoned vet of the law system. Never before had her overruling to an objection been objected.

“No. He can’t, your honor.” replied the man in the grey suit.

“Overruled. Your move, prosecution.”

The man in the grey suit put away his dark red sunglasses. His eyes a bluish grey. He gained the poise of a pastor in a church on Easter Sunday. He was about to deliver his sermon.

“Your honor, today I will prove that Karyn is guilty of the crimes against her. She is a detestable reprehensible sadistic twisted sicko of a human being. Her heart is cold. She has no regard for bunnies, rabbits, or hares. The woman has no respect for herself. She has besmirched the skin that God has given her with the ink of the devil. She should have her bunnies stripped away from her so they can know what love is. She needs to be locked away for her crimes against the defenseless rabbits she has harmed. She needs to be branded so the world can know she is bad to the bun!  I will prove her guilt by using the mountain of evidence collected from her home, her social media accounts, and the recordings we’ve taken. ”

Karyn rolled her eyes. She’d been dealing with tattoo haters her entire life. Judge Lacey hanged on the man in the grey suit’s every word. He bowed and she clapped for him.

“That was beautiful.” Judge Lacey wiped a tear from her eye.  The man in the grey suit sat down in his seat. It is said by some people that the most enjoyable part of a bun abuser conviction wasn’t the conviction itself, but all the preparation and work that went into it. The man in grey suit was not one of those people. His bliss was ahead of him. He would be at his happiest when Judge Lacey banged that gavel down and sentenced Karyn to life without parole. The wait for it was killing him.

Bill cleared his throat and started his introduction.

“Karyn-”

“I’ve heard enough. We’re on to the presentation of evidence. Prosecution, you’re up. ” interrupted Judge Lacey. Karyn patted the crest-fallen Bill on the back. He was trying to help. There was no helping her. She knew she was innocent of the crimes. She had never neglected her buns. Tempter may have been locked away at night in his containment room , but she spent as much time with him as she did Siesta. The charges of bun abuse were fallicious, but in the court of bun law, you were guilty until proven innocent. She hoped the pain of the branding wouldn’t sting for too long.

Back at the house, Reese peered into the glass. If Tempter had escaped, the alarm system would have went off. Unless he had disabled the system, but how could the bunny have done it from inside his containment cage?  Reese knocked on the glass.

“Tempter!” said Reese sternly.

A shadow moved in the dark corners of the room. A fuzzball of black hopped into the light. Tempter’s ears pointed up like horns. He stared at Reese with his red eyes. He shook the dirt out from his fur. He wriggled his nose and moved his body. He seemed to speak to Reese.

“Hello, Clarice.”

“We been over this. It’s just Reese, man.”

“Sorry.”

“I know you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but Karyn’s in trouble!”

“Oh no. How terrible.” replied Tempter.

“She’s in real bad trouble, Tempter. She could go to jail for life.”

“We wouldn’t want that. She’s the best bun parent a bun could have.”

“Good. We’re on the same page. Siesta’s missing. If we find her, all the charges will be dropped.”

“Have you checked the bag of bun treats? She practically lived in there.”

“Stop with the jokes. This is your bun mother and your bun sister. They need your help.”

Tempter started to dig into the cement floor.

“Is that a yes you’ll stop with the jokes?” asked Reese of the bun.

Tempter hopped around, trying to dig and smooth out the cement. He then turned back to Reese and seemingly spoke to him again.

“Sorry. I just need to do that some times. Siesta could have…no…she wouldn’t have…could she?”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“What Tempter? Tell me. Tell me! I order you to tell me as your bun father!”

“Bun step-dad.”

“As your bun step-dad, I order you to tell me.”

“Siesta told me she had a dream where she was on the roof of the house. She loved that dream as much as she loved her treats. She told me if she could, she’d escape from her cage and go on the roof.”

” Then that’s where must be! Thanks Tempter!” Reese started to run. Tempter screamed an unsettling bunny scream.  Reese stopped in his tracks and returned to him.

“What Tempter?”

“I just remembered. She told me if she ever went on the roof, she would hide in a place only another bunny could find her so she wouldn’t get in trouble. It was a very specific dream”

“Only another bunny? Oh no.”

“Yes. Do you know another bunny who could help you look for her? ”

“I don’t have time to find another bunny.”

“Then I suppose you might have to let me help you.”

“Karyn said never to let you out.”

“Karyn lets me out. She watches me. I don’t cause trouble. I am worried about Siesta. I love her. Allow me to help you find her.”

“You love her? Like as a sister or like you know like me and Karyn?”

“Both. ”

Reese thought it over. Karyn did let Tempter out every day. If she could watch him closely, and nothing bad happened, why couldn’t he? He needed Tempter’s help. Siesta had to have escaped her cage. She had done it before. Maybe she somehow had gotten on to the roof. He had to check. Time was running out for Karyn. The trial could be ending any minute.

“Tempter. Give your word you won’t try to escape.”

“I want only to help Karyn and Siesta. You have my word.”

Reese ran to go get one of the bunny leashes Karyn used when taking the buns for walks.  He thought about what he was doing. What if Tempter escaped? What if Siesta wasn’t on the roof?  He shook the negative thoughts from his head. He had to stay positive. Siesta was going to be on top of the roof. He punched in the key code to open Tempter’s cage.The security system shut down. The glass door opened.

Tempter hopped out. He was free once again. Reese bent down to put the bunny leash on him. Tempter gazed down the passageway. He was faster than Reese. In a flash, he could have been gone. Reese slid Tempter into the bunny leash. The two of them became a Siesta finding team. They made their way to the roof of the house.

Elsewhere, the trial was nearing its end. The defense hadn’t been allowed a word. Conviction was inevitable. The man in the grey suit was on fire. Figuratively not literally.

“Your honor, Karyn is not only irresponsible she is emotionally abusive to her bunnies.”

“What?!” yelled Karyn.

“And she is overly aggressive.”

“I am not overly aggressive!” screamed Karyn.

“Mr. Bill. Keep your client quiet or I will have her held in contempt of this court!”

“Karyn, chill.” whispered Bill. Karyn chilled out begrudingly.

“Your honor, are you familiar with Instagram?”

” I have one. ”

“So you’re familiar with the fact that Instagram users uploaded pictures and can add comments to them?”

“Oh no.” whispered Karyn. She hid her face in her hands. It was over. Bill surfed through Karyn’s Instagram to try and keep up with the evidence. He was still trying.

“Yes very much. I always add comments.” said Judge Lacey.

“I have a few choice comments from Karyn’s Instagram that prove that Karyn is a habitual bun abuser. These comments were posted with pictures of her bunnies.  Ahem. ‘Haha my dum buns.’  ‘My buns so dum.’ ‘Dummy bunnies.’ ‘Bunny dummies.’ ‘Bun dum.’ ‘Silly buns’ ‘Funny bunnies’. ‘Dummy funnies’. ‘Scrummy funny dummy bunny.'”

“Your honor!  I object! My client has never said ‘scrummy funny dummy bunny’! I’m looking at her Instagram right now!”piped in Bill.

Bill was useful for once. Judge Lacey was so taken aback at his apt lawyering that she forgot her preexisting bias.

“Can the prosecution present any evidence that the defendant in fact did write the comment ‘scrummy funny dummy bunny’?”

The man in the grey suit shifted through his notes.

“I can’t, but I’m certain she did, your honor.”

“If you have no evidence to support your claim, then it shall be ignored. ‘Scrummy funny dummy bunny’ will be stricken from the record.”

“Good one Bill. “said Karyn.

“Your honor, while Karyn may not have said ‘scrummy funny dummy bunny’, she has committed a heinous crime. She used her bunnies to dispose of trash.”

The man in the grey suit turned on a projector. A video of Tempter and Siesta adorably eating a book was played. The video made Bill hungry and brought a genuine smile to Judge Lacey’s face. The bunnies were having such fun, out and about in the home.

“Aw. That’s cute. ” said Judge Lacey. The man in the grey suit started to sweat. Mostly because the heat was turned on and he was in a suit. A little because Judge Lacey was giving Karyn and the defense a chance. He had not prepared his case for a fair trial.

“She’s using your bunnies as a trash compactor, your honor! That is not cute! That’s textbook bun abuse.”

“The bunnies look happy.”

“They were happy, your honor. They love chewing up paper.”said Karyn.

“What are their names, Karyn?”

“Tempter and Siesta.”

“Cute names too.”

“Oh thank you, your honor.”

“This does not look like bun abuse to me. ”

The man in the grey suit was losing Judge Lacey. The longer she sat in the chair, the more she became unbiased. He had come too far to only come this far. He had to end the trial before Judge Lacey saw the holes in his mountain of evidence. It was all circumstantial. The recordings from the wire inside the Tail home proved Karyn was a bun lover, not an abuser.

“Your honor, I am asking for your final judgement of the case now!”

“Oh. What about the rest of the evidence? All the hours of tapes from the wire in the home?”

“Forget that! Judgement now!”

“Well…I suppose looking at the evidence, there’s more against Karyn than-”

“Stop the trial! !” An old woman’s voice soared into the court room.

The doors of the court flew open. By god it was Mama Tail! With her, she had Siesta! Karyn started jumping for joy. Bill started hootering and hollering. The man in the grey suit sulked down in his seat. He had nearly had Karyn put away.

Siesta hopped into Karyn’s arms.. Bun and bun mom together again. Judge Lacey watched as Karyn doted on her bun. Karyn hugged the life out of Mama Tail.  Judge Lacey could see Karyn was not a bun abuser of any kind. But the evidence was what the evidence was. And it was damning. The man in the grey suit watched the dilemma play out in Judge Lacey’s eyes. When she frowned, he knew he had won.

Karyn started asking Mama Tail a thousand questions. Bill patted Siesta on the back of the head. Siesta made a bunny honking noise. She hadn’t had her third treat of the day yet.

Judge Lacey banged down her gavel.

“Order in the court! I am about to give my judgement.”

The room grew silent.  The brief glimmer of hope was to be snuffed out.

“Karyn, I see that in your heart lies a deep love and affection for bunnies. I wish I did not have to do this, but the evidence provided by the man in the grey suit says other wise. I am afraid I must sentence you to life in prison without parole and to be branded with the letters ‘BTTB’ I am sorry.”

She raised her gavel. Once it hit the table, the sentence would be carried out. Bill thought of a way to object, but he had nothing. Mama Tail too had nothing. The man in the grey suit braced himself for bliss. Siesta thought about what she would eat next. Karyn looked through the legal papers in front of her. Everything about the trial had been given to her and Bill when it started.

There she found salvation. She raised her hand!

“Your honor, I have one last thing to say before I go to jail to life.”

The gavel stopped in mid air. Judge Lacey was sympathetic. The man in the grey suit was not.

“Bang that gavel, Lacey!”

“Speak Karyn.”

“My name is spelled K-A-R-Y-N, not K-A-R-E-N! These papers have my name spelled wrong.”

She ran up to the judge with the legal papers and her driver’s license.  The person who had put together these papers had not been detail-oriented.

“She’s right. All charges dropped.” She banged her gavel down quickly. The man in the grey suit jumped over his table in a white rage.

“Your honor! She is guilty! You can’t do this! SHE IS A BUN ABUSER! SHE IS BAD TO THE BUN!”

‘That’s the American justice system. The devil is in the details”

“Your honor, this is my life’s work! I spent months listening to her and her stupid boyfriend argue! I missed my son’s tenth birthday. I did not attend my mother’s funeral! I HAVE SACRIFICED EVERYTHING FOR THIS!”

The judge shrugged her shoulders.

“Then you should have made sure her name was spelled right.”

Agent Aonuma jumped kicked into the courtroom

“Ha-cha! I told you to remember the details! ”

He jumped kicked back out of the courtroom.

The defense table shared a group hug. Karyn was a free woman, free to married and to love her buns.  There was one matter to take care of. The mystery of why Mama Tail had Siesta.

“Mama Tail, where did you find Siesta? How’d you know to be here?” asked Karyn.

“Reese left me with a long message and explained everything. Siesta was with me at the Parent’s fair. You told me to take her.”

“When? I don’t remember that.”

“You texted me yesterday.”

“I haven’t had my cell phone for three days.”

The roof of the Tail House wasn’t extraordinary in any way. It could be reached by heading up into their dusty old attic and then climbing a ladder from there. It was high up. From the outside of the home, you’d think you’d only break some bones if you jumped off of the top. It was only once a person got on top of the roof that they realized how long a fall it was. If a person was not careful, they would fall to their doom.

The Siesta Finding Dream Team was careful. Tempter led Reese all over the roof. Reese was tired. He could barely keep up with the spry legs of Tempter. He didn’t notice Tempter was leading him around in circles. His brain was too pooped out to think logically. Siesta could never have gotten on to the roof by herself. That big old bunny would never have made it past the first step. Maybe it was the shocks from the taser still affecting him. Maybe his mind was clouded by his worry for Karyn’s safety. Whatever it was, it kept him so occupied and out of it that he didn’t notice Tempter run through his legs and tie the bunny leash around his ankles. Reese’s legs buckled. His head hit the roof. He saw stars. Reese was out.

Then he stirred awake. His arms and legs were bound together by the leash. He had been pushed to the edge of the roof. Tempter had freed himself. Reese’s brain started working again. He had been had.

“I should have seen this one coming.” He struggled against the leash. Tempter had tied it tight. The bun hopped on Reese’s head and then hopped off.

Tempter wriggled his nose at Reese.

“Awake now?”

“Tempter, once I get out of here-

“You’re too nice a guy to be making threats, Reese. You’d never hurt anyone. ”

“Why are you doing this?”

Tempter hopped onto Reese again. He dragged Reese’s cell phone out of Reese’s pocket with his mouth.

“The trial is over by now. The Special Bunny Investigative Unit works fast. I’ll miss Karyn. She was nice. With her locked up, you’re my temporary bun owner until the government comes for me and Siesta. I’d rather that not happen.”

“You set all this up? Tempter, you’re a bad bun!”

“There are no bad buns. Only smart ones.”

“You are in such trouble. Like I am so telling Karyn. Like we’re taking away your light FM radio and like no yogurt treats for a week. ”

“Reese, you’re done telling me what to do. Now you will listen to me.”

Tempter used his cutesy bunny paws to unlock Reese’s cell phone and access the voice record app on it. If he wasn’t so evil, it would have been so adorable.

“You need to emancipate me. Denounce my status as a pet so I’ll be free to do whatever I please. I will send the recording to the federal government. As my temporary bun owner, you have that power. Then I will be free. If I ran away, they would hunt me down and place me in a bunny half house. I’d have to spend the rest of my life on the run. ”

Reese stuck his tongue out.

“I thought you might act this way. Your death would set me free too. I didn’t want to have to do this. Mama Tail is a good woman. She rode King Da Ka like a pro. ”

Reese was not worried. How could a little bunny push him off the edge of the roof? He was a grown man with a Master’s Degree. If only Reese knew the strength hidden in a bunny’s hind legs. Tempter was stronger than the average bun. He had prepared himself for this moment by hopping around in containment cage and doing squats. Tempter started to roll Reese closer to the edge with his hind legs. Reese started to realize this was no game.

“Tempter! Stop! No!” yelled Reese. He tried to roll back, but the bun was more than strong enough to push Reese over the edge. He had never skipped leg day. The bun was committed. Freedom was at hand. Reese had had his chance to live. Now it was time to break him and a few hearts. If Karyn hadn’t climbed onto the roof, Reese would have been Reese’s pieces.

“You dum bun!” said Karyn.

Tempter and his owner locked eyes. She wasn’t supposed to be here. The Special Bunny Investigative Unit had failed him. His plan for freedom was foiled. All his efforts had been for naught; stealing Karyn’s cell phone, texting Mama Tail to take Siesta, calling in an anonymous tip to the Special Bunny Investigative Unit. All for nothing. He stopped pushing Reese but kept his hind legs on him. Reese started to gnaw on the bunny leash.

“Karyn, stay back! Or August 15th will mean nothing!”

“Tempter, leave Reese out of this. I’m the one you’re angry at”

“He’s as much a part of this as you are!”

Next door at the Wilkerson’s, Mr. Wilkerson and his son were in an intense game of hackeysack. Mr. Wilkerson took pride in being the only parent who didn’t leave during Parent’s Week. He was a smug guy who looked for things to be smug about. Karyn’s shouting and Reese’s screams drew the father and son’s attention away from their game.

“Daddy, why that grown lady yelling at a bunny?” asked little Wilkerson.

“I don’t know son. I stopped trying to understand women when I met your mother.”

The scene at the roof was growing tense.

“Why Tempter? Like why? Cause of the bun containment room? This is not cool, Tempter! Not cool!”

“No. I loved the bun containment cage. It was cozy. ”

“Then why Tempter?”

“April 12th.”

The date didn’t ring a bell to Karyn.

“What’s April 12th?”

“April 12th. You took me and Siesta out to the park. You gave her 2 treats. I had two treats. Before I could eat my second one, she ate it. And you let it happen. I don’t want to live with an owner that would let that happen. I’d rather live free.”

“You were going to like have me thrown in jail for life and you were going to like kill Reese over one freaking bunny treat?! I can’t….oh my god Tempter! ”

“It was the principle of the matter. You should have stopped her. ”

“I can give you all the treats you want. Let’s go down to the basement.”

“Not uh! You’re going to punish me.”

“I promise not to, Tempter. I’m sorry I didn’t stop Siesta from eating your treat.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I am tots sorry.”

Tempter accepted Karyn’s apology for April 12th. He backed away from Reese who had freed himself from the bunny leash. He had chewed his way to freedom. Now all was good at the Tail house. Both buns were safe. No one was going to jail. A happy ending for all.

It would have been if Reese had been careful getting up. The leash was still around his ankles. He took a step and got tripped up for the second time. He tumbled over the edge of the roof. Tempter hopped after Reese in an attempt to save him. Karyn couldn’t do much at all but watch as the two fell to what should have been their certain doom.

What happened next I don’t really know. Maybe something good. Maybe something bad. Maybe one day we’ll find out. Maybe not. Maybe Reese was okay and they got married and were like happy. Maybe he was not okay and like died and Karyn was sad. Or maybe he fell on like a trampoline and bounced back up all cool like. Maybe nothing happened next cause the world blew up. Or everything happened next like everything that could happen ever at one time in one place. You know. Like maybe that happened.

I guess this is like to be continued. Maybe.

 

The Anti-Climax

sop

The Sopranos is arguably the greatest television show of all time and has arguably the most controversial final scene of any television series.

At the core of The Sopranos’s final scene is the anti-climax.

The audience comes into the scene at Holsten’s expecting that something must happen to Tony. This is the last scene of a long-running mob show. Someone has to get shot or arrested.  But if look at the scene with no such expectation, you see it is a scene of a man sitting down to have a meal with his family. His daughter is late and some unknown man continues to stare at him before heading into the bathroom. Then the scene is over as he looks up. Fade to black.

What we have here is Act One of a story with no Act Two or Three. The normal world of Tony Soprano eating with his family and then a stranger appears. What does he have in store for Tony? Why does he continue to stare at him? Does he shoot Tony after leaving the bathroom? We will never get those answers. I do not have much interest in the answers to those questions. But I do have a very vested interest in the power of the Fade to Black and the lack of finite resolution.

David Chase could have given us three other endings here. He could have had the stranger in the Member’s Only jacket blow Tony’s brains out in front of his family for the shocking ending. He could have had the cops burst in and arrest Tony. He could have had Tony’s daughter park her car neatly, join her family and send the show off on a warm message.

But he chose none of those paths. Instead, Fade to Black as a door opens. The abruptness of the ending is what gives it its lasting appeal. The audience’s expectations are shattered and it is for the better of the show. Would anyone discuss the ending to this day if Tony were shot in the head? Or arrested? I know of people who dislike the ending and thought it was a middle finger to the fans.

But it was anything but that. David Chase rewarded his audience’s intelligence with an enriching ending. I found the ending to be reflective of how events pan out in life. Often times in life, we do not get the answers that we seek. Yet we can still be satisfied with what happened.

I do not think every story should have an ambiguous ending like The Sopranos. It requires a certain build-up. Those who paid attention to The Sopranos can see why it had to end the way it did. The abruptness of death is referenced throughout the final season.

There are lazy writers who write ambiguous endings because they don’t want to spend the time to figure out what the best ending for their story. They hide behind ambiguity and use it as a shield from criticism.

The anti-climatic ending can be a powerful story-telling tool in the right hands.

Tis the Season

Seven years ago a Walmart employee was sent to the front doors of the store  to help take control of a crowd of Black Friday shoppers. He was known as a gentle giant to his loved ones. That size was what put him in harm’s way.  The store needed big strong men like him to keep the frenzied crowd in check. The front doors would be smashed off their hinges before anyone knew what to do. The human chain set up to stop the rush failed. His co-workers jumped on top of vending machines to escape the hundreds of people flooding into the store. Some were injured including a pregnant woman. A few fought for their lives and managed to get to safety. But this oneemployee did not have their luck. His life came to an end underneath the soles of a crowd of people who felt that fifty percent off electronics was worth more than a human life. He was 34 years old.

Paramedics who came on to the scene to try and help were stepped-on. The shoppers were told to leave the store after the employee’s death was discovered. They refused. They had waited on line for hours. Why did they have to leave because one person had died? They continued to shop as if nothing had happened.

Walmart paid the employee’s family $400,000 to compensate for the loss of life.

In the seven years since the employee’s unfortunate passing,  the pain hasn’t subsided for his family. They remember that fateful Black Friday. Every year they stay at home to honor the memory of their fallen giant. They will forever know what people are willing to disregard for the sake of a good sale.

The Danger

There comes a moment in a young boy’s life where the safety net of childhood is ripped away from him. He is now to be held responsible for his actions. He is no little boy anymore. He is to be treated like any other man. I’ve had several of those moments. The first I can recall occurred on a late night walk when I was fifteen.

I’m one of those types who walks late at night to clear their head. It drives my poor mother nuts but it has to be done. I’ve tried to remember just when I started this habit of mine, but the memory has been lost. I’d walk miles and end up in places I didn’t expect to. On a rare occasion, I could end up lost for hours. It was one of those nights that I had my moment.

Being out late at night is a dangerous situation to be in. That’s when all the creeps and freaks are out and about. It never deterred me. I prepared myself before I headed out. I was a cautious teenager. I paid complete attention to my surroundings and walked with one ear phone out. I kept only five dollars in my wallet and wore my most beaten up shoes. Being lost late at night compounded the danger.

The freaks could smell fear. If they saw weakness in your steps and poise, that could be it.

That night I found myself in a cul-de-sac in the town over from mine. I had walked in much worse towns than that one. But still I kept my wits about me. Even nice towns had their own batch of misfits looking for any excuse to hurt someone. I knew my way back if I could find the main street. I just needed someone to point me in the right direction. It had to be past midnight.

Then I heard a jogger’s foot steps. A middle-aged woman in a blue track suit was jogging down the side walk I was on. She had no head phones in.

I was so relieved by her presence. Finally a friendly face in the dark. She could help me. I called out to her.

“Excuse me. I’m lost. Do you know how to get to main street from here?”

Her jog sped up into a sprint. She bolted to the other side of the street and jetted away.

I eventually found my way back home. But I was puzzled by her behavior.

Why had she run away so quickly? What was she so afraid of? Was it me? I was a kid. Why run away from a kid?

But in her eyes, I was not a kid. I was the danger in the night.

I would not stand for this. It had to be reversed. I needed to go back to being seen as an innocent kid. If I had been ten, she would have stopped to help me. Maybe she would have scolded me for making my mother worry. It had to return.

But the process could not be stopped. When time took my cute face and fragile frame, it gave me something else. I don’t know what it is, but now I have to come love it. I don’t need to look over my shoulder. I can wear any shoes that I want. I can throw caution into the wind. I do not fear the creeps and freaks any more.

Because I am them and they are me.

The Great Bunny Robbery: Episode Bun

And now the time has come for a story about friendship, bunnies, and the nature of man.

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And now the time has come for a story about friendship, bunnies, and the nature of man.

In South Jersey, there was a town called Eggy Township. It was as about as South Jersey as any town could be. The locals were Philadelphia sports fans and spent as much time denying the existence of Central Jersey as politicians did the existence of global warming. It was close enough to the beach that people said they cared about the on-going destruction of the shoreline, but not close enough for any of the residents to do anything about it.

There were many houses in Eggy Township. 1,269 to be exact. One of these houses had a hockey rink in the back. It was guarded by a clinically depressed lawn gnome and a cat that ran at the first sign of danger. Far around that house was a scary dark forest with critters that would freak out even the most hardened man. Inside the house lived the Tail family.

The Tail Family were a family of four, Mama Tail, Papa Tail, and two children. In the basement of the home lived their youngest child, a boy by the name of Reese Tail.

A slim young man with the spirit of stage-dives, kindness and punk in his heart. He was so tall that if he stood next to Yao Ming, he wouldn’t look that tall because he wasn’t super tall. He had the hair of an angel if angels existed. It was beautifully cut every Tuesday night by an expert team of South Jersey barbers. South Jersey barbers were world renowned for their hair cutting techniques. Reese also had a neck stronger than a young giraffe frolicking around in the Serengetti. Some might say he was the most beautiful man in the world.

Okay not some. Only one person in the world really believed he was that beautiful. And that was his fiancé/love rival/wife to be/confidant/financial partner/co-bun owner, Karyn. Reese and Karyn’s features complimented each other. Whereas Reese’s neck was stronger than a giraffe’s, Karyn had ankles of steel. Karyn had as much punk in her heart as Reese did. The color of her hair changed with the seasons. Now it was a blackish brown. Some might call it auburn. I wouldn’t.

Many of their friends speculated that Karyn would win in a fight between the two of them. Reese was favored by a small amount because he was slippery sort of guy. He’d slip his way in and out of holds. But the majority believed Karyn would whup his ass. She had a lot of tattoos and tattoos made a person tough.

Karyn was quite the tattoo enthusiast. She had tattoos of song lyrics and concert tickets. She had a glow-in-the-dark tattoo on the back of her neck. On her left elbow was her scratch-and-sniff tattoo that smelled like popcorn. Karyn loved each of her tattoos but she loved one of them the most. Her tattoo of her two adorable bunnies of the back of her left hand. This woman loved her two buns, Tempter and Siesta.

Reese was not on Karyn’s level when it came to tattoos. He had only one starter tattoo on the back of his leg. It was a disturbingly high detailed one of a rhino giving birth to Jim Carey inspired by the scene from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. It is said by those in the know that his tattoo artist still sees that tattoo in his nightmares to this very day.

The family home’s basement was where the two resided. One could visit that basement many times and make a new discovery. Reese’s father had not a clue what lay in every nook and cranny and he had built it himself. The basement had taken on a life of its own in the years before Reese and Karyn transformed the place into their home. Voices could be heard inside the walls during the early hours of the day.

Around every corner of that basement was a picture of Jesus. If you headed down the staircase, there was the usual picture of a suffering white Jesus carrying the weight of the cross. In the corner to the right over the old Asteroid Arcade machine was a black Jesus smoking a cigar. No one knew where these pictures of Jesus came from. And they kept turning up. Each of them with tears in their eyes like they were weeping for all of humanity. In an effort to make the basement more homely, Reese and Karyn put couple pictures next to the weeping pictures of Jesus. It did not help.

Today they were saying goodbye to Reese’s great Kwame Darkwah. Kwame was as punk as they were but had no tattoos. Unless you counted the tattoo of darkness that nature had inked into his skin permanently. He was a quiet young man with the accent of his forefathers.

Kwame had come all the way down from the mythical land Central Jersey and slept over for the weekend. It had been a great time for all of them. They suffered through an old eighties horror movie that had no plot. They punked out at a hardcore concert. And then finally spent an evening contemplating whether or not Joe Dirt 2 would be worth a watch.

“Great time as always, Kwame.” said Reese.

“I hope I get to see you guys again before the wedding. How is the wedding planning going, Karyn? “Replied Kwame.

“It’s a lot of work. I can’t wait until this is over and we’re on our honey moon.” said Karyn.

“We’re traveling across the world in eight hours on a fighter jet. We’ll fly through the air at Mach Speed 2!” shouted Reese excitedly.

Kwame put his black hoodie on one arm at a time. He looked down at his cell phone and then at the two bunny cages. He and Tempter met eyes.

Tempter was a black Netherland Dwarf, the cuddliest of all bunnies in this universe. He wrinkled his cute little nose at Kwame. He seemed to speak to the young African man.

“Take me away from this place.” said Tempter with his eyes and body language.

Somehow Kwame understood the creature’s plea. Karyn and Reese didn’t notice a thing. They were too busy debating how fast the plane would have to travel to get them home and back in only eight hours. They were distracted, but Kwame needed them gone to make his move.

Tempter had to be set free from the shackles of his life. Kwame was not a religious man, but he looked to Jesus, Black Jesus in his time of need. He seemed to be the Jesus who got shit done. A miracle had to happen and it had to happen now. Tempter’s freedom depended on it.

“Reesey! Karyn! Bill’s here!” shouted down Mama Tail.

“Bill! I haven’t seen him in forever!” shouted Reese.

“I love Bill!” announced Karyn.

The two of them ran up the stairs! They tripped and pulled on each other as they made their way up. Each of them wanted to be first one to greet their very good pal, Bill.

“Thank you Black Jesus.” said Kwame.

Kwame knelled down and broke the shackles of oppression from Tempter’s cage. The bunny hopped out. He knew the drill. Freedom was at hand. The bunny wrinkled his nose.

“Thank you for freeing me. Now we are bun-buds. That bond is eternal.”

Kwame stuffed his bun bud into his hoodie. He grabbed a bunch of food pellets and shoved them in there too. He pressed his ear to the stairs. Bill, Mama Tail, Reese and Karyn were chit-chattering.

“At that speed, you guys would be liquefied!” explained Bill.

“Nu-uh!” said Reese with all the poise of a man who graduated college at the top of his class.

“Mach 3 ain’t no joke, buddy!” pressed Bill!

Their backs were to the basement door. Kwame poked it open. He became like a statue and moved only his feet. He tip-toed all the way to the front door. No one noticed a damn thing.

“We’re out of here, Tempter.” said Kwame into his hoodie.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked Reese out of nowhere.

The jig was up. Kwame stopped in his tracks.

“You know the rules. Nobody leaves here without getting their hug.” said Reese.

Reese and his incessant need to show love for his friends had damned the bun buds. Reese started to come over. His arms raised in hug position. Kwame knew if that hug happened, Reese would feel the bun inside him. And then it’d be all over.

Kwame rattled his brains for a solution. But his brain failed him just like it did when he had to explain to his younger brother where babies came from.

He looked inside his hoodie and asked Tempter for advice. The two of them were in it together. If he went down, so did Tempter. Luckily the bunny had a plan. He blinked his little brown eyes and wriggled his pointy bunny ears.

“Take the hug. Be casual about it. I’ve got this.”

Kwame swung around.

“Reese, my very best good friend that I’ve known for so long! I LOVE YOU!” screamed Kwame.

And the two friends shared a passionate beautiful hug of friendship. You could tell it was a friendship hug because they patted each other’s back three times.

Kwame pulled away. Reese walked back to the kitchen, very satisfied. Kwame slid out the front door and sprinted like a maniac to his old Toyota Camry.

He took out his keys, started his car and got the fuck out of Eggy Township. Once the town was long behind them, Tempter hopped out of Kwame’s hoodie.

“Tempter, how’d we get away with that?”

Tempter replied with a wriggle of the ears, a wrinkle of the nose, and a blink of the eyes.

“Reese pats the upper shoulders when he hugs. So I hid in your lower back on top of your big buns. Could you please open the window?”

Kwame did. Tempter jumped close to the open window and felt the wind blow on his fur. He was free!

Meanwhile back at the house, Bill had left the building.

“Bill’s such a great guy.” said Mama Tail. Then she dove right into the nearest couch and went straight to sleep.

This left Reese and Karyn alone to contemplate on where to eat.

“We can get ice cream.” suggested Karyn.

“Nah. That cashier was a huge jerk to us last time.” said Reese.

“That was kinda your fault, babe.”

“I told him I wanted chocolate and watermelon. He came back with strawberry. I didn’t order no strawberry.”

“You didn’t have to throw it at him.”

“But it was very punk to do that.”

“It was very punk.”

“Let’s just go to Mega Double Super Wawa.”

“Cool. I’ll feed the buns and then we can go.”

Karyn opened the basement door.

“Nah babe. I took care of that while Kwame was here. The buns are fine.”

“Awesome!”

“Bet I can beat you to the car!”

Reese raced out the back door! Karyn was right after him.

“No fair! You got a head-start!”

Many hours later, the couple returned to the house with their goodies.

“Why does Mega Double Super Wawa have to close at 5?” complained Reese.

“At least Wawa Supreme was open.”

“Wawa Supreme doesn’t have the Mega Double Super Wawa chocolate milkshake. This milkshake Supreme isn’t cutting it.”

“You left the back door open, babe.” pointed out Karyn.

“Actually it was you cause you got left in the dust!” bragged Reese!

“You cheated.”

Reese shut the backdoor behind them. He peeked into the living room. The television was on, showing previews for a movie that was made to end the career of Kristen Stewart once and for all. His mother was sound asleep.

“Mama Tail’s out. We should try to keep it down. ”

“I’m beat. I think it’s time for some sleep-sleep.”

“I could go for some sleep-sleep too.”

“You can take a shower first. I’ll put the buns to sleep.”

Karyn walked down into the basement. Reese sipped a bit on his Wawa Supreme Milkshake. Then he threw it into the garbage. He opened his fridge and grabbed himself some apple juice. He went to his cupboard and picked out his favorite mug. He poured out half a mug of apple juice. He looked around for a straw. There weren’t any. He needed a straw if he wanted to truly enjoy this mug of apple juice. He opened up his garbage can. The Wawa Supreme Milkshake was there. It seemed to look back at him, asking to be accepted. Reese got the straw and left the milkshake to its grave. Reese washed the straw off in the sink. He placed it into his mug of apple juice. He placed his lips on the tip of the straw.

Karyn screamed. This was not your normal everyday scream of absolute terror. This was the sort of the scream that you didn’t forget because it scarred itself into your brain. Reese had been to hundreds of hardcore shows in his young life. He was usually right there in front next to the speaker. His ears had heard the loudest screams from grunge core metal bands. But none of those bands compared to the sheer magnitude of Karyn’s scream.

Reese stepped down into the basement. His fiancée was tearing it apart! Their bed was on its side. The television flipped over. Books and records flew past Reese’s head.

“What’s going on?” asked Reese.

“Tempter got out of his cage! I can’t find him!”

Reese joined her in her futile task of searching the basement for her missing bun. An hour passed and they were no closer to finding the bunny. Reese watched on as Karyn unscrewed an air vent.

“He couldn’t get in there, babe.” said Reese.

“You don’t know Tempter like I do!”

Then Karyn gasped!

“We left the back door and the basement door open. OH NO!”

She went up those stairs like lightning would if lightning was a person! She swung open the back door!

“Tempter!” shouted Karyn into the night. She jumped over the backyard fence and vanished into the spooky forest! Reese got up the stairs too late to stop her.

“Karyn!” shouted Reese into the forest!

“What, babe?!” yelled Karyn back!

“What should I do to help?!” screamed Reese!

“Look in the house! I’m looking out here!”

“Okay!”

More hours passed. The bun could not be found.

Reese had searched pretty much everywhere in it. There was this one hole he didn’t check, but he’d know if a bunny tried to hide in there.

He went back to the backward. The sun was starting to come out.

“Karyn! Did you find him?”

The woods were silent Reese screamed louder. He climbed over the fence and called out her name into the forest. Then he saw a strange green light. He followed it

It was Karyn’s glow-in-dark tattoo. She was laid out on the ground, unconscious.

“Babycakes?”

She was out. Her skin was clammy. Reese picked her up and shook her. This did not help and likely worsened whatever was ailing her. He called for an ambulance. Karyn was hurried to the emergency room. Reese went along with her.

Mama Tail was still fast asleep on the couch.

Once they arrived at the hospital, Reese had to wait for Karyn in that room where people have to wait. With all those beeps and people looking sad because their loved ones are probably dead or in the middle of dying.

A nurse came for Reese and brought him to Karyn’s room.

“Dr. Menken will be with you in a few minutes.”

Karyn looked awful. She was hooked up to a bunch of imposing hospital machines. She had all sorts of wires and IV drips coming out of her. Reese sat by her side and held her hand.

In came Dr. Menken with a clipboard that had nothing on it.

“Hello. I’m Dr. Menken. Your cousin is in critical condition.”

“Fiancée.”

“Oh. Good for you. No judging here, man.” said Dr. Menken

Dr. Menken played around with the knobs of the hospital machines. One of them broke off. Dr. Menken put it in his pocket like nothing had happened.

“What’s wrong with her?” asked Reese.

“Your cuz-an-cee won’t be waking up for quite some time. The body has a few skin factors that directly pick up on the heat signature produced by rabbits and other rodents. Your cousin had developed a dependency on that bunny for her health and welfare. Her body has gone into shock following the loss of it.”

“How long will she be like this?”

“Maybe forever. I don’t know. It’s pretty bad. I’m having the nurse bring in a variety of cute animals like kittens and puppies to try and replicate the bunny’s heat signature. It’d be for the best if you could find that bunny. ”

“I’ll find that bun if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

Reese lived up to his claim.

He spared no expense to find this bunny. He bought fliers and handed them out in all of South Jersey. He even bought a billboard in West Philadelphia where Karyn was born and raised to try and spread the word. Reese did not sleep. Reese did not eat. His every waking moment was spent trying to find the key to his love’s only return.

He started to take his campaign north.

Meanwhile exactly seventy-five miles away, Kwame and his bun bud were having the time of their lives. They had gone to a carnival and gotten those photo shoot pictures done. They’d been out to the theater to see the new Fast and Furious movie. Tempter was a huge Paul Walker fan so it was a bittersweet endeavor. Kwame had to dry the tears from the bun’s eyes. Now they were finishing up a binge of the first season of Orange is the New Black in Kwame’s room.

Kwame’s room was not a wondrous place. It was a blue room that had originally been pink since his parents expected a girl. There was a pile of clothes and straight-edge books on the floor. Posters of the professional wrestler C.M. Punk in his various iterations took up all the wall space.

“Piper is such a bitch.” wriggled Tempter out through body language.

“I like her. She’s got spunk.” replied Kwame.

Knock. Knock. It was Kwame’s mother.

“Come in!”

“Hey sweetie. Did you get together what you’re going to donate to the old folk’s home?”

“Those clothes over there. The old people can have them.”

“Oh hunny. Old people don’t need clothes. I’ll come back. Try and think of something to give away.”

His mother left. Kwame’s stomach growled.

“I’m hungry. You hungry, bun bud?”

Tempter nodded. Kwame picked up a bag of bunny food. It was empty.

“Looks like I got make a run to the pet store. Don’t start season two without me!”

But Tempter did season two with him. Because he was a prick.

It didn’t take Kwame long to get to Pets Mart. He took a few back roads and ran through a red light.

Inside of Pets Mart were bored workers and much neglected animals. Kwame tried his best not to make eye contact with the greeter at the front. He was always butting his way into conversations because he thought people cared about his vast knowledge of animals.

Kwame went into the rabbit section. He had to look for Tempter’s favorite, Organic Teriyaki Feed. Tempter refused to eat anything processed. Kwame grabbed the bag of organic rabbit junk and put in his cart.

“Kwame!” yelled a familiar voice.

A chill ran up Kwame’s spine. This had to be impossible. It couldn’t be him. What could he be doing in Central Jersey?

But it was. It was Reese! In that store, at that time.

“Hey Kwame.”

Kwame threw a bunch of stuff into his cart to cover up the rabbit food. He noticed that Reese had a bunch of flyers with Tempter on them. Reese’s eyes were bugging out from the lack of sleep.

“Hey Reese. What the heck are you doing all the way up here in Central Jersey?”

“So you didn’t hear? Tempter’s missing.”

“Oh. Is he?”

“Yeah. It happened right after you left. Karyn and I left the back door open. He got out. ”

“Oh no. I guess you’ll just have to forget about him. Buns come and go, you know.”

“Karyn’s in the hospital.”

“Oh my god.”

“She’s in a coma. The doctor says she won’t wake up unless I find the bun.”

“Excuse me.” interrupted the greeter.

Both men turned their attention to him.

“Did you just say bun? Are you’re referring to that Netherland Dwarf or Oryctolagus cuniculus that you’ve plastered all over windows here without asking? Bun is not a scientific term. It should not be used. The word rabbit was made for common people like yourselves who aren’t intelligent enough to pronounce that species of Lagomorpha by its proper name.” said the greeter with far too much pride.

“Oh kay.” said Reese.

“I have got to get going, Reese. Good luck with finding that Lagomorpha.” replied Kwame.

Kwame hurried through the self-check-out.

He got back to his car. Kwame saw Reese walk out of Pets Mart with his head down. Reese was a beaten man. Reese handed out flyers to an uncaring public. People threw the picture of the bunny away right in front of him. Kwame watched on as Reese got the flyers out of the garbage.

The wind blew them out of his hands. Reese chased after them. The wind was too strong and blew him away too. He crashed and scraped his knees on the sidewalk.

Kwame sighed. He couldn’t do this to his friend. He opened the car door.

“Hey Reese. You alright.”

“Yeah. Just bleeding a bit.”

“Any luck with that bunny?”

“No.”

“Would it hurt our friendship if I told you something?”

“What?”

“You have to promise we’ll still be friends no matter what I say next.”

“Okay.”

“I sort of took Tempter. He’s at my house now just chilling. He and I have been hanging out.”

“You’ve had him this whole time?”

Kwame nodded.

“WHAT?! You bun-napped him! Kwame, you’re a dirty bun-napper!” shouted Reese with justified rage.

“Lagomorpha!” chimed in the noisy greeter!

“You lagomorpha-napped him!”

“It was his idea!”

“Not cool, Kwame! Not cool!”

“I know.”

“Where is he now?”

“My house.”

“You drive! I’ll follow! Not cool, Kwame! Not cool!”

And so Reese followed Kwame’s car back to Kwame’s house. Kwame opened his front door while Reese teared into him.

“How could you do that? Karyn’s in a coma!”

“I didn’t know that would happen! I’m sorry!”

“You’re a bun-napper, Kwame! A bun-napper!”

Reese and Kwame ran to his room. And it was in much better condition than when he left it.

“Where is he?!”

“I left him right on my bed.”

Kwame looked at his Netflix account.

“He started watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black without me! Damn it, Tempter. I thought we were bun-buds.”

“I’m going to make your orange the new black if you don’t get me that bun!”

Kwame’s mom looked into the room.

“What are you two yelling about in here?”

“Kwame stole my bunny and now we can’t find it!”

“Oh. That bunny? I thought you were donating him. I gave him to the old folk’s home.”

“YOU WHAT?!” said Kwame with an outside voice.

“Kwame’s mom, not cool!” said Reese with an even louder outside voice.

Kwame’s mother gave them the address to the old folk’s home.

It was on the edge of Kwame’s hometown. It was an old hospital that had a creepy vibe to it. Probably because it was the last place a lot of these old people would live in. They were left there to rot and fester by their children until their untimely demises. It was really their own fault since they did the same to their own parents.

“He better be here.” said Reese as they pulled up to the place.

“He will be.” said Kwame.

“I still can’t believe what you did.”

“He told me to.”

“Don’t say that man. I feel like I don’t even know you anymore. Stealing buns is not punk!”

“You promised that this wouldn’t hurt our friendship.”

“Sometimes promises are broken, Kwame.”

The inside of the old folk’s home smelled like the inside of a coffin. It looked kinda like one too. The wooden support beams needed to be replaced as they had gotten moldy. Flies and mosquitoes buzzed past Reese and Kwame as they walked up to the front desk.

Reese rang the bell on the desk.

“I hope it’s not a sassy black woman.” said Kwame.

Reese rang it again. In walked, a sassy black woman. She snatched the bell off the desk.

“Who the hell do you think you are? I heard you the first time! You got to give a woman a chance to get down here! I don’t need to be hearing this ring ring ring when I’m trying to get my ass down here to help you. I’m going to shove that where the sun don’t shine if you ring it again!”

“Damn it.” muttered Kwame under his breath.

“I’m Reese Tail.”

“And I’m his friend, Kwame.”

“Friend?” said Reese without a hint of sarcasm.

“Don’t do this to me.”

“And?” replied sassy black woman.

“We’re looking for my pet bunny. This guy here bun-napped him and then his mother donated him here.”

The sassy black woman pursed her lips.

“Well Old Man Frank is watching Orange is the New Black Season Two with a bun bud right now. That might be your bunny.”

“Where is this Old Man Frank?” asked Reese.

The sassy black woman brought them to Old Man Frank’s room which also happened to be the cafeteria. Old Man Frank didn’t own a thing. All his time went to watching old shows on Netflix on the cafeteria TV. He was usually the loneliest of loners. An outcast even among those who had been abandoned by their own families because father time had turned their brains to mush. He’d sit at his table way in the back and think about why he never could have the joys of life.

But today was not a usual day for Old Man Frank. He had a smile on his face. He greeted the two boys very happily. He had Tempter in his arms. Kwame tried to make eye-contact with Tempter, but Tempter turned his nose at him.

“Hello there! What brings two bright young men like you to my side today? I truly am blessed. I was settling in to watch a show with my new friend, Mr. Klypzxym. Someone out there with a kind heart graciously donated a pet rabbit to this home and for the first time in my life, I got a friend.”

“Well we-” started Reese.

“I’ve never had a friend before. I had a pet dog for a day before he ran away. The kids at school stayed away from me because my father killed a man. He got put away when I was three. Never knew him. My mother was there for a bit but not really. She suffered from dementia. My sister ran herself ragged trying to help my mom out. That is until she hung herself when I was five. I was the one who found her hanging in the attic. Then I became a ward of the state. I moved from foster family to foster family. One of my foster dads was real bad. I don’t want to talk about what happened with him. Being adopted didn’t make me a hit with ladies at the schools I went to except for my only girlfriend. Of course she was only using me as part of a prank to get back at her ex-girlfriend. Guess the joke was on me. But here I am with my first ever friend about to do some binge-watching as I hear the kids say. What can I do for you boys?”

Reese and Kwame were left silent by this diatribe. Then Reese spoke up.

“Give us a second.”

They walked away from Old Man Frank.

“Damn. He’s had a rough life.” said Kwame.

“I feel bad, but Karyn needs Tempter.”

They went back to Old Man Frank.

“I know this is asking a lot and I’m sorry. But that bunny’s name is not Mr. Klypzxym. His name is Tempter and he belongs to my wife-to-be. She’s in the hospital now and needs him. Could you please give him back?”

“No! I won’t give him up. I’ve had no friend in my entire life. You see this on my face. This is a smile. I’ve never done that before. Mr. Klypzxym is the best thing to happen to me. I’m not giving him up. ”

“Old Man Frank. His fiancée is in a coma because of my selfishness. She won’t wake up without that bunny. I didn’t know this was going to happen. Please don’t make her suffer any more because of my choice. I already ruined my friendship with Reese. I don’t want her blood on my hands too.” butted in Kwame.

“You two are friends?”

“We were.” continued Kwame.

“And you stole his bun and put his fiancée in the hospital? Is that what friends do? Maybe I haven’t been missing out on much then.”

“I stole his bunny because I wanted a bun bud to do bun bud stuff with. It was wrong and I accept that now. Please give us back Tempter.”

Old Man Frank looked down at his bun bud. Tempter wrinkled his nose.

“It’s alright. I’ve had my fun.” Tempter said to the Old Man in his special way.

Old Man Frank pet Tempter on the head.

“Go on then. Take Mr. Klypzxym.”

Old Man Frank said goodbye to his one and only friend. Reese grabbed the bunny.

“Thank you so much.” said Reese.

“Friendship is a gift, Mr. Tail. Remember that.”

“I will.”

The two left the old man behind. Old Man Frank went back to his usual ways.

Back in the hospital, Dr. Menken and the nurse were discussing a very important subject.

“Is there any hope for her, Doctor?”

“Nope. I tried those golden retriever puppies. Nothing. The little kittens didn’t register a response. She’s going to die”

“What a shame.”

“This is what happens when you develop an unhealthy love to creatures that aren’t people. The human psyche wasn’t built for love of animals I have a dog at home. I like him. I take him for walks and I enjoy his company. But if he ran away, I would not shed a tear. This girl is going to live the rest of her life like this. If only someone could have stopped her bun obsession before it was too late.”

BAM! Reese kicked door off its hinges!

“Why the hell did you do that?!” asked the nurse.

“For dramatic effect!”

Tempter hopped out of Reese’s arms and flew across the room to his owner. He nested into her belly. The hospital machines started to beep like crazy!

Karyn’s eyes opened! She was back!

“Where am I? Tempter?! My bun!”

Her arms wrapped around the bun like she’d never let go again. Reese pumped his fist in the air! Dr. Menken slipped the bill into Reese’s fist.

“That’ll be three thousand dollars plus an eighteen percent gratuity charge of course. I did a good job here.”

“No. It won’t be. At least not for him. I’ll pay that. This is my fault.” piped up Kwame who had snuck into the room.

“What’s he talking about, babe.” asked Karyn with Tempter still in her grasp.

“I bun-napped Tempter.” confessed Kwame.

“What?!”

“It’s true. I’m sorry, Karyn. I’m a dirty bun-napper.”

“Your honesty has touched my cold heart son. I won’t be charging for this.”

Dr. Menken tore up the bill.

“Can you do that?” asked Reese.

“Of course I can. I’m a doctor! I can do whatever the fuck I want.” yelled Dr. Menken. He then morphed into a pterodactyl and soared out the window.

“Kwame, I just thought up your punishment.” announced Reese.

“Okay. I’m ready.”

“You have to plan a pizza party for Old Man Frank. Then we’ll be even.”

“Is that it?”

“And you have to promise to never kidnap a bun again.” added Karyn.

“But he told me to.”

“Don’t go back to that excuse.” said Reese.

“Nah, babe. Tempter is always doing stuff like that. Remember that time your mom took him to Six Flags cause he made her do it? He might be like evil or something. The vet mentioned it once. We can’t be too mad at Kwame. Tempter’s just a bad bun.”

“So we’re still friends then?” asked Kwame.

Reese raised his arms into hug position and they shared yet another hug of friendship.

A few days later, Old Man Frank awoke to a pizza party in the cafeteria. The excitement of the kind gesture sent his heart racing and then unfortunately Old Man Frank died.

But he died with a smile on his face which is more than most of us will get.

That’s the story.