Did Jerome, the Easter Rabbit Really Get His Hopping Papers?
The night before Easter Sunday started out to be fairly calm this year. We cats in the neighborhood had decided months ago that this year, we would not be fooled by Jerome, the Easter rabbit. In the past few years, he had asked for our help, because he had a cold, had sprained his foot, bruised his ears or some other mishap which had befallen him and thus he had required our assistance. Out of pity for the clumsy rabbit, we had dyed Easter eggs, filled Easter baskets and then carted them all around town. By the time dawn had arrived, we cats were exhausted. Jerome, however, was well rested and basking in the glory of another successful year of Easter basket distribuion, for which he usually claimed completer credit. "I have a knack for convincing others to perform my job," he told a group of rabbits who lived in West Rock Park "I should get a few more years of milage out of bruised ears and sprained feet!" Well that did it! We cats and rats all decided we would never, never help that miserable rabbit again!
The night before Easter Sunday arrived, Helen thought we should have a little party as our persons would be away from the house, so we invited Rumsfeld, Penelope, Max, our next door neighbor, Carlyle, Frank, our new neighbor from West Side, Raymond Hazelwitz, rodent activist, Falstaff and Abbott. Helen had invited Hillary but she was busy campaigning in New Haven. We had enough for two sets of Bridge. Fortunately, Ashley our dog was watching television so we didn't have to face her annoying remarks and barks. Helen prepared a large platter of tuna patties seasoned with catnip and after everyone had arrived who was going to arrive, we settled down for an evening of cards.
Frank didn't know how to play Bridge or Pinochle but was eager to learn. Raymond Hazelwitz offered to teach him Pinocle because he thought perhaps the cat would be able to catch on more easily as it is not as complicated a game as Bridge. Carlye and I decided to play with Frank and Raymond. The cat was not terribly quick at learning the card game but since we were just having an evening of fun, it didn't matter that Frank could not master the art of bidding with card points against an opponant.
We were all enjoying ourselves. No one was taking the games seriously although Raymond told Frank if they beat Carlyle and me at Pinochle, he would be permitted to eat all of our shares of tuna patties. "Don't count on it, Frank!" warned Carlyle. "I shall fight you to the death to defend my tuna patties!"
It was I who heard the soft meows of a cat asking for help. "Who is that?" I asked. "Does anyone recognize that meow?"
Helen nodded. "I do think that is Sasha," she meowed. "We had better go and see what is wrong!" She then ran into the kitchen and pried open the the door to the deck. Indeed, standing within the halo of light was Sasha, one of Frank's neighbors from West Side.
"Something terrible must have happened!" she howled. "There is a large rabbit sitting on your front steps, crying his eyes out!" I ran across the backyard and peering through the gate. Yes, a large rabbit was sitting on our front steps. The rabbit was non other than, Jerome!
My heart sank! Would this be another year of egg dying, basket filling and distributing and parading about town at the crack of dawn and pretending to be Easter rabbits? I am a reasonable cat but I could not bear the thought of this impending humiliation!
Then I heard Raymond's sharp chattering! "If you have come to this house to con me and this group of honorable felines into performing your job as Easter bunny for the town of Hamden, I and my rat scouts will personally chase you out of town! It's about time you faced your responsibilities, Jerome! Be a real rabbit! Do the job that you were assigned to do by the Great Easter Rabbit!"
Jerome began to wail loudly. He wiped his eyes with his gigantic ears. "I'm not the Easter bunny anymore! I've been fired!"
"Fired!" hissed Carlyle. "How could you be fired? No one can fire the Easter rabbit!"
The big rabbit shook his head, spraying droplets in an arc of tears. "The Great Easter Rabbit can fire you! Yes he can! And he did! He fired me for deralution of duties. That's what he did!"
"I think you mean dereliction of duties," meowed Carlyle. "Look it up in the dictionary, Jerome."
"Whatever!" sighed the rabbit. "I have also been evicted from the big hole in the ground where we rabbits live. I forget the name....."
"It's called a burrow," growled Carlyle. "You should spend some time with me in the library."
I was perplexed. "Who is going to be this year's Easter Rabbit for Hamden?" I asked. "Who can take your place and train the rabbit assistants?"
"I'll tell you who!" shouted the distraught rabbit. "It's my cousin Daryl! He's a traitor right through to his tail! He's going to take over the whole operation! And I'm left out of the barrel!"
"I think you mean burrow," meowed Carlyle, shaking his head.
"Whatever," sniffed the rabbit.
At that moment, Frank stepped forth. "As a community service, perhaps we could all do something to help this rabbit. We could dye some eggs and trim some trees with colored ribbons and perhaps make some fancy bonnets for the Easter parade."
"Don't get carried away, kittycat," chattered Raymond. "We've all been stung by this rabbit before, believe me! The most I am willing to do is invite him in for bouquet of carrots."
"That would be nice too," meowed Frank. "Does anyone have some carrots handy?"
Helen, my housemate shrugged her shoulder. "I'm sure I will find a few carrots which didn't make it into last week's stew. Let me go look in the refrigerator."
So I invited the big rabbit into our kitchen and Helen put some eggs on the stove to boil. We decided we would dye a few eggs and fill some of the empty wicker baskets with colored straw, then Jerome could take them home with him. Perhaps then he wouldn't feel go bad about losing his job. It was getting a little late to continue the card games and Frank was now very busy explaining to everyone his new ideas of promoting neighborhood activities. So we all just sat around meowing and chattering. Two of Raymond's friends, Samual and Petrie dropped by to say hello and pass the time. Helen was waiting for the eggs to begin boiling and had prepared more tuna patties for us all. It was Petrie who first heard Ashley, our dog and her friend Samantha barking at the back gate. I had no idea that Ashley had left the house and I rushed outside and unlatched the back gate. The two hounds came bounding onto the deck, yipping and yapping their heads off.
"We had so much fun tonight!" barked Ashley. "Samantha and I helped the Easter bunny pass out the Easter baskets. We went all over Hamden. We borrowed a tractor lawn mover from the Home Depot and the little bunnies tied a wagon on the back of it! We had a great time!"
Carlyle stood before the two dogs, his tail switching back and forth like a whip. "What Easter bunny and what Easter baskets?" he demanded. "This had better be good!"
Samantha shrugged her shoulders. "Oh don't get your fur in a ruff, kitty! We were helping Hamden's new Easter bunny, Daryl. This was his first year on the job and the assistant rabbits stopped by my backyard and asked if I could help out. I thought Ashley would like to come along too so I barked over the fence and told her about it. Naturally she agreed!"
"Of course, Ashley would agree to help!" I hissed. "That dog would do anything to get attention. And she will use any excuse to drive a lawn mower, the bigger the better!"
"You're just jealous because you don't know how to drive a tractor lawn mower, Henri!" barked Ashley. "The person across the street had his under lock and key and then one of the bunnies said that a friend of his said that there were lawn mowers at Home Depot and so we went there. I found just the one I wanted!"
"You have broken the law, you silly mutt!" I protested.
Clarence just sat on the deck, shaking his head. "I can't believe this has happened!" he growled. "I hope the police didn't see you....."
"Well, I think they did....." whimpered Samantha, "but we jumped off the lawn mower and ran down a driveway on Blake Street. We hid behind some garbage cans until they had gone. A big truck came to pick on the lawn mower. We hadn't removed any of the store's tickets from it so they would know where to take it."
"That's just great!" growled Carlyle. "And you probably left your fur all over the machine. Now they can find out who you are by checking the fur DNA!"
"I don't think so, Carlyle," countered Clarence. "I don't think the police department keeps a data base on canine DNA. But this is the second time you have been caught riding around on a tractor lawn mower. The first time you landed in the dog slammer. You also have no license to drive a lawn mower on city streets."
Ashley began to whine. "You never want us dogs to have any fun! All we do is go for walks and stuff. Here we had a chance to come to the aid of a poor Easter rabbit and you get all upset about it!"
At that moment, Jerome burst through the kitchen door. "Hi Ashley! Hi Samantha! How did it go? Did you get all the Easter baskets delivered to the right homes?"
"You know these two dogs, Jerome?" I growled.
"Yup, I sure do!" said the rabbit. "I told them all about my situation and they agreed to help Daryl if he took over the position of Easter rabbit for the Hamden area. If Daryl didn't make a go of it, I'd be stuck with the job, doncha know.."
"I thought you had been fired from your job!" challanged Carlyle.
The big rabbit shrugged his shoulders. "Well not exactly fired. I really wanted to quit. I'm a little tired of the yearly grind. Tired of hard boiled eggs. Never did care for them. Tired of getting dye all over my paws. Tired of filling baskets with icky candies. I especially hate those awful chocolate rabbits! They give me the creeps. Humans eat those things. They usually start with the ears!"
"So now what are you going to do, Jerome?" hissed Carlyle. "Who is going to keep you in carrots?"
"Since Daryl was successful at being the Easter bunny, I can now go and live at the assisted living complex for retired rabbits," chortled Jerome. "I'm so happy! I can play cards all day. I can feast on carrots and watch classic movies and take trips with my buddies to the big city and see a Broadway play. You know, do things that other retired rabbits do...."
Helen, my housemate stepped forward, her lower jaw thrust forward. "And what am I supposed to do with the dozen hard boiled eggs I prepared? I thought it would make you happy if we gave you a few colorful eggs to take home with you. Then you wouldn't feel so neglected."
"I don't care what you do with them. You could eat them I suppose.." answered Jerome. "Frankly, I don't want them hanging around my home. Evenually they would begin to smell bad."
"Did you come over here, all whining and complaining about getting fired just so Ashley could slip out of the house without being noticed by us cats! Was that it, Jerome? You deceived us so Ashley could steal the lawn mower and cart the wagon of baskets around for distribution?" I growled.
"And I shall be forever grateful to Ashley and Samantha. Without their help, Daryl might have failed at the job. He would never have gotten all those baskets brought to all the homes on the list," nodded Jerome. "And I would be forced to remain as Easter bunny!"
"Oh, it was nothing," gushed Samantha.
"You poor, poor bunny!" sneered Helen. She aimed the hard boiled egg right at Jerome's head. Unfortunately, he ducked and the missle sailed right between his ears and landed on Clarence's nose. It must have smarted!
Jerome took off like a rocket with Helen and Clarence hot on his tail! Raymond Hazelwitz pulled a stop watch from the pocket of his vest. "I like to see just how long it takes before the cats give up the chase. I happen to know that last summer, Jerome won the trophy in the Rabbit Olympics, Senior Devision."
Frank purred. "This has been an exciting evening! I had no idea a hand of cards could be so stimulating. I just love a good chase around the block to end a game! We should do this again sometime!"
And I had no idea a cat could be so dumb......