I was about 18 when the incident I am about to tell about took place. We had a black rabbit, and his name was Messa Brother. (Don’t ask me to explain that.) I think I may have been the one responsible for introducing him to the household one Easter? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but like many of my “good ideas,” it was really a bad idea. (I should have learned my lesson with the chickens.)
Messa Brother soon grew from a cute little Easter bunny into a full-grown pain in the rear. He had free-range of the house, and I mean anywhere in the house. Even though my mother housetrained him (sort of) to use a litter box like the cats, he sometimes got lazy, and if he was at the far end of the house from the litter box when the urge hit, he simply left his “buckshot” wherever it suited him. And the “far end of the house from the litter box” was my bedroom.
Like all rabbits, he had a need to chew stuff, and what he chewed didn’t matter all that much to him—most of the time, that is. He seemed to have a strong preference for my dad’s shoes. It took the loss of a few pair of shoes before MB made sure his closet was always closed to keep Messa Brother out. After that, he shifted his chewing needs to the electrical wires for the various appliances, like lamps, alarm clocks, radios, and TVs.
One day while I was watching TV, Messa Brother hopped into the room and went behind the big console TV standing in a corner. I paid him no mind as long as he was leaving my shoes alone. Suddenly, the lights dimmed, the TV went dark, and Messa Brother rolled from behind it and ricocheted off the wall like he had been shot out of a cannon. When he came to rest, he was lying on his back with his black fur looking real frizzy and a wisp or two of smoke rising from it.
Messa Brother had discovered electricity—again!
How it didn’t kill him, I am not sure. He laid there for a while looking kind of dazed, then eventually rolled over, shook a little, and hopped off to find some shoes. They didn’t bite back.
Well, maybe they did bite back, in a manner of speaking.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I came in to find my dad sitting at the kitchen table drinking his Regal beer. Like most people in New Orleans, everyone consumed alcohol in some form. MB’s favorite was beer. I can remember seeing him what I would consider as a bit snockered only one time, and that Saturday was the time.
I took a seat at the table to talk to him. I believe my mother and two sisters were in Waveland at the time, so we were the only two in the house. I asked what was troubling him.
He just sat there and kind of nodded before taking a pull on his Regal. “I hate that rabbit!”
He wasn’t going to get any arguments from me on that point, since Messa Brother had taken to chewing my shoes now that my dad’s was safely behind a closet door, and wiring seemed to bite back. My Weejuns didn’t look very cool with the back chewed out!
He continued in a low monotone voice, “Lane, I gave that rabbit enough morphine to kill a horse.” (Being a doctor he had access to morphine.)
Somehow, I knew there was a “but” coming, because Messa Brother was still very much alive and apparently enjoying good health. “What happened?”
He shook his head and eventually continued after another long pull on his Regal. “He just slept for three days! He should be dead, but he slept for three days! I hate that rabbit!”
Messa Brother lived less than a year after that. He suddenly died while on a family trip to our house in Waveland one summer evening. Heat prostration was my dad’s diagnosis. Those cars we had back then without air conditioning could be very, very dangerous! (Snort!)
But I always suspected it was a two-horse dose of morphine that did Messa Brother in.