there’s something about rabbits

I meet Vicky over the woods. I hear her before I see her, singing along to a backing track.
‘I’m trying to get the words down,’ she says, tugging out the ear buds. ‘Concert’s next week.’
She pulls an eek face.
We fall in together, the dogs running on ahead.
Somehow, in the way these conversations go, we get to talking about rabbits.
‘Someone put a dead rabbit on the footbridge.’
‘Why would they do that?’
She shrugs.
‘I dunno. Some kinda cursey magic thing? Or a dog dropped it? Strange it was so carefully laid out on its side like that, though. I threw it in the bushes. At least it was some kind of burial.’
‘I was walking the Ridgeway this one time, and suddenly out of nowhere a big black rabbit leaped out of the bracken – stopped – looked at me – then leapt into the bracken the other side. It was so weird. It was just like it raised its eyebrows and pointed at me.’
‘A black rabbit?’
‘I know! Maybe it was an escaped pet. If it was, it’d come a long way. There weren’t any houses for miles. Anyway, a couple of seconds later a weasel leapt out of the bracken from the exact same spot – stopped – pulled the same what the hell are YOU doing here? expression – then carried on after the rabbit.’
‘If you’d stayed there longer you’d probably have seen a shit load of other animals. Goat. Tiger. Elephant…’
‘Maybe it was a genetic thing. Or maybe it was just filthy.’
We walk in silence for a bit, thinking about rabbits.
‘There’s a strange guy who lives near the pub,’ says Vicky after a while. ‘Half poacher, half crazy. We were sitting there having a drink. He comes wandering past with a big canvas bag on his shoulder, stops, puts the bag on the ground, dives in with both hands, pulls out a dead rabbit, and stands there looking at us. I didn’t know whether he wanted us to make an offer or clap. But then he moved his hands, and he was holding it in such a way that the head was in his right hand and the body in his left. Like some kind of fucked up magician. Then he put the two bits in the planter, picked up his bag again and carried on. The landlord didn’t seem that bothered, though. He came over with a carrier bag, used it as a glove to pick the rabbit up, tied it up, threw it in the bin. Like this was something that happened every week.’
‘There’s definitely something about rabbits…’
‘Totally.’
‘I went to this patient once. He had two long eared house rabbits. Lops I think they’re called. Anyway, he was sitting in his chair with a rabbit on each shoulder, watching Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s a favourite he said. But anything with swords or guns they’re pretty much okay with. He told me how well trained they were. Yeah. It’s perfect. Every night we watch a film together, share a pizza, then they climb down, take my socks off, and we all go to bed.
‘Ew!’ says Vicky. ‘I can’t unhear that.’

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