In a cottage in a wood
A little old man at the window stood
Saw a rabbit running by
Knocking at the door.
‘Help me, help me, help me,’ he said
‘Before the hunter shoots me dead!’
‘Little rabbit come inside,
Happy we shall be.’
Sounds like an elevator pitch for a horror movie. Especially when you do the actions:
- In a cottage in a wood
Describe the outline of the cottage with your two index fingers. A simple design, just a square, really. But isn’t it too simple? The kind of simple you struggle to understand in retrospect, after the horror’s passed, just a scrap of blue & white POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS left round a tree. How did we miss it? For God’s sake – it was there all along, people. In plain sight.
- A little old man at the window stood.
Lower your arms and hunch over a little, old man style. Isolated. In your own world. Waiting.
- Saw a rabbit running by / Knocking at the door.
Raise your hands in front of you like two little paws, in a bounding motion, then segue immediately into a knocking mime. You’re a rabbit, goddamit. Running. Running in a nightmare. From some unspeakable thing.
- ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ he said
Stretch your hands up into the air and then back down again three times. Is this the rabbit crying for help? Or the old man mimicking its terror? You decide.
- ‘Before the hunter shoots me dead!’
Mime a shotgun, blasting away three times in a controlled spread-pattern.
- ‘Little rabbit come inside’
Extend one index finger and indicate for the rabbit to approach. This is where you start to think: Keep on running, little rabbit! For God’s sake! Keep running!
- ‘Happy we shall be.’
Nod & smile & slowly stroke your left hand with your right. It’s no good. The rabbit goes inside. Stands looking around the interior – the whole thing rabbit-themed. Cutlery, teapot, tablecloth. There’s an oil painting on the wall of an old woman dressed as a rabbit. The old man goes out back to ‘pop the kettle on’. Comes back wearing a rabbit head with crooked yellow teeth and maglites for eyes. Cut to the hunter. He’s actually a special forces cop. Out of breath, puffing into his shoulder mic. Sorry. I lost him. Repeat. I lost the target. He swears. It starts to rain. He takes his cap off, tips his head back. Closes his eyes to feel the cooling wetness on his face. Suddenly a bunch of crows launch themselves out of a nearby tree, making a terrifying noise. The cop wipes his face with the back of his shirt sleeve, puts his cap back on, levers a shell into the chamber. Moves on.
That’s the version I was taught, anyway.