5:31am, part 6

Tommy inwardly cursed the dark brown puddle growing around his feet. The beheaded rabbit just sat there, reclining against a container of imitation butter. Everything was fine, Tommy tried to reassure himself. But everything wasn’t fine! That pleasant slice of solitude and subsequent unconsciousness he experienced were the most delightful things in recent memory, and “look at me, I have no head” had to materialize and crash the party.

Grogginess still clung to Tommy, but adrenaline was rapidly replacing it with alertness. He had to dispose of that headless furry sack before his parents and Lamarr came home! The solution was simple, he would find an old shoe box for the rabbit, spray some febreeze inside the fridge and let it air out. Everything would be fine.

Tommy waited for at least a half an hour to make sure the fridge had a normal, if slightly artificial, odor. Then he tucked the box containing the rabbit underneath his left armpit, intent on grabbing his bike and zooming like a rocket over to his friend Billy’s place. But he heard the front door slam shut. Now was Tommy’s time to shine. He had to rebel against his parents for a reason he never could have anticipated. Tommy decided to head for the basement and exit the house through the slopped cellar door. It was a messy escape plan, and he mostly hated improvising, but time wasn’t on his side.

Once in the basement, Tommy slowly descended the wooden stairs, avoiding any nosy weak spots. The only source of light he had was his cellphone, which was on its last battery bar. But he was feeling around just fine in the dark, gripping the railing all the way to the foot of the stairs and instinctively turning right. Finally flipping open his cellphone, he immediately saw the door that was his escape route. As Tommy did his best to quietly open the cellar door, he breathed a soft sigh. He didn’t know what to say to his parents about the rabbit, or the slightly sticky floor. Or the very possibly still odorous fridge. Tommy couldn’t get that metallic taste out of his mouth though.

It took about fifteen minutes to bike to Billy’s house. Everything was quiet. Billy’s parents were rarely home, and he had no siblings. But it was okay. He had just gotten on offer to star in a kool-aid commercial, and was considered “supermodel good-looking.” The kid was going places. Seriously. Tommy knocked on the door and Billy opened it promptly. Even his door answering was punctual and perfect.

“What do you have in the box?” Billy asked.

“Um, I feel more comfortable showing you this upstairs,” Tommy said. Billy drew his eyebrows together.

“That doesn’t sound good,” Billy replied. “You’re probably worrying over nothing.” Tommy shrugged and followed him upstairs.

“You haven’t come over in awhile,” Billy said. “Can’t handle my newfound fame?” he winked.

“Heh, no. I threw up in Zhang’s class today. All over my new white t-shirt!”

“I know how much you like those.” Billy joked. “But Zhang?”

“Our biology teacher. He’s been teaching there for at least three weeks.”

“Huh,” Billy said, stretching back on his bright green beanbag. “But what’s this about your dilemma in a box?” Dammit, he was witty too. Billy really did have it all. But, to Tommy’s credit, he was only mildly jealous.

“Found a beheaded rabbit in the fridge today. Had to throw the imitation butter out just to be on the safe side.” Billy nodded sympathetically.

“So…there’s a beheaded rabbit in that box right now?”


“Let me see!,” Billy demanded, taking the box from Tommy’s hands and opening it. “Wow, that’s actually a dead, decapitated rabbit! What the hell do we do with it?”

“Was thinking about burying it.”

“That’d be the right thing to do, but digging graves has always made you squeamish. I’ll take care of everything.”

“Really? That’d be a load off.” After a long pause, Tommy said “you know, the strange thing is that I saw another one while walking up McLaughun street. I’m glad you saw this too. At least I’m not going crazy or something.”

“How do we know that you didn’t lapse into another personality and put it there?” Bill asked, laughing but putting his straight face back on when took in Tommy’s expression.

“Someone probably would’ve caught me and reported me. I’m really not that stealthy, even if I were another personality.”

Billy didn’t know what to say to that. “You should crash here for the night,” he said. “Get away from the rabbit and its voodoo.”

This was partly why Tommy liked Billy. He was a character, but had a good heart too.

That night Tommy fell asleep in the spare room, Billy’s old one. The ceiling was adorned with fake glow in the dark stars. Tommy dreamed of a nuke falling to the earth, it was fat and prosperous and speeding toward an immense jug filled with kool-aid. As the nuke landed, Tommy glimpsed a crimson swell falling over the lip of the jug and then a cleansing white light that he wanted to name because dream logic told him that was the appropriate thing to do.

5:31am, part 7

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