Category Archives: Fiction

I’m Cooking Wabbits

I need some advice.

I’ve never had rabbit. I’ve always wanted to try rabbit. So imagine my surprise when browsing through the meat department of Market Basket, I saw rabbit. Skinned and clean, of course, wrapped in cellophane, but a whole rabbit.

Later, I would post on Facebook whether or not anyone knew how to cook rabbit. They can be cooked liked chicken, someone replied. That’s fine, because I’ve cooked plenty of chickens. I was less interested in the tips on how to prepare the rabbit––seasoning and such––because I only wanted to know how cooked the rabbit must be before it’s safe to consume. I like to know what the animal tastes like free of herbs and condiments.

John informed me that I would be eating the rabbit alone. That’s fine, because there would be more for me and Dicky. (Oh, can dogs eat rabbit? That’s something else I need to know)

My dilemma is this.

April, 2012, I was living in Danvers. On Easter Sunday, I went for a walk to the Liberty Tree Mall. I like going to places where I know no one will be. And owing to Massachusetts Blue Laws, there’s no place more desolate and silent than the shopping mall. (Yes reader, the mall was closed. No reader, this is not a confession I am writing from the interrogation room of a police department, so you can be confident in knowing that I wasn’t walking in the mall)

Along the road that runs behind the mall, connecting Walnut Street to Endicott, I found a dead rabbit. Immediately, almost involuntarily, my hand went into my pocket to retrieve the camera that I bought myself on my last birthday. Immediately, almost involuntarily, the joke was clear in my mind (What’s that reader? You don’t know what the joke is? You don’t understand what’s funny about this? Let me spell it out for you. Dead Rabbit + Easter Sunday. Go on, I’ll wait.) I wanted to take a picture of this rabbit, who had been struck down sometime on or before Easter, and post it online. Maybe make a cleverly worded meme and see if I could achieve my fifteen…th of a second’s fame through Facebook or Twitter. But I hesitated.

I hate Easter.

It’s nothing from my childhood. My memories of Easter were always pleasant. Okay, there was one particular Easter that wasn’t so nice, but it wasn’t enough to color my feelings about the entire holiday(there were actually two). The day it happened was the day before Easter, when I was working the cash register at K-mart. What was in the carts, the amounts they totaled.

K-mart sold eggs and Easter candy, but these weren’t Easter sales. Video games, movies, Transformers toys and dolls. This was… Christmas shopping. I remembered Lewis Black’s famous joke about Christmas being Thanksgiving Part One and thinking, “Oh Crap. Easter is Christmas Part Three.”

And that’s why I hate Easter. Because as a child, Easter was a day to color eggs and then go looking for them and then to start devouring them along with the chocolate bunnies and other assorted sweets.

Oh and to religious people who are going to try to respond with shame, over how I could hate a holiday that marks the resurrection of Christ, I reply, “You or wrong, Sir or Ma’am!” Easter is named for the goddess of spring. A pagan goddess. If you were truly devoted as your brain tells you you are, you would refer to the day in question as Resurrection Day. But if you insist on celebrating “Easter” then I remain steadfast in my hatred of this day and the failure of humanity that prompted my feelings.

Moving on.

I could not take the picture. It wasn’t that I was worried about the backlash from the media or from the knee-jerk reactionists that inhabited Twitter, Facebook, and Buzzfeed. It wasn’t that I was afraid of destroying the innocence of children the world over (although I know and am related by blood and marriage to a number of kids who would have found it hilarious). I couldn’t take the picture, because I felt it would be disrespectful to the rabbit.

Yes, I did not want to show disrespect to an animal that that the world collectively describes as something that destroys gardens and reproduces. I didn’t kill the rabbit, but it didn’t die for my amusement, or for the continued amusement of the Internet.

Fast forward to 2016.

I saw the rabbits in their nice packaging, with the label that told me they came from a farm in Iowa. The clerk told me they carried this often, so there was no rush to buy it now.

Later, I will buy one. I will cook it to perfection, trying my hardest not to ruin it. And I will serve it on a plate, with some eggs. Maybe they’ll be scrambled, maybe they’ll be boiled. And some greens. A nice green salad. For full effect, I may also place an appropriately decorated Easter basket on the table beside the plate with the rabbit and the eggs and the salad.

I know, faithful reader, that you see where I’m going with this. To I take a picture of this? Will it make me a hypocrite, to feel so horrible for doing this to roadkill, but not to the one I am about to eat (The rabbit I bought from the store, not the roadkill, please keep up)?

What do you think? Please tell me soon.

 

Sincerely,

Nathanielle Sean Crawford

Author of the blogs Confessions of a Cart Jockey

  The Salem Author From Bennington

And the e-books: Survive by the Sword

The Sweetest Death

 

Reader’s Reply:

Try roasting it with some sage.

Deleted Scenes from Scripture Episode 1: Written In Stone

And Moses placed the tablets on the ground and prepared to make a second trip to the top of Mount Sinai, to retrieve the tablets upon which Commandments 11 through 20 were written. But before he did, he gazed down on his followers and what he saw angered him.

“Aaron? Aaron, what the fuck did I just say?”

And God sayeth unto Moses, “Now you see the shit I have to put up with.”

The Wrong One On the Couch ~ A Short Story

The therapist sat there for a long time, consulting his notes while his thirty year-old patient waited, patiently. He seemed to be struggling with the urge to shake his head, or to sigh, both of which could be misconstrued. Of course, the patient would have been happy with any sign of life beyond the light in the tired blue eyes of the man he had spoken to for an hour the week before.

“How’s the job hunt?” The patient snapped out of his daydream and wasn’t sure he heard the question.

“Job hunt?”

“Yes. Any leads?”

“No. No, I thought we covered this. Finding a job is not my problem. Surviving the first day is.”

“Ah yes.” There must have been a surge in the therapist’s nervous system, because when he looked down to check his notes again, the urge to shake his head was too strong to ignore. He put the notepad aside. “It seems like you’re always going to have a hard time wherever you go.”

Silence. A confused, maybe frustrated glare accompanied by the patient holding his hands outward in a gesture of annoyance. “Did you finally reach that conclusion on your own? Because it seems like the exact same thing I told you last week.”

“You don’t need to be sarcastic.”

“Well you don’t need to be oblivious,” the patient shot back. “I came here as a last resort, because you told me that the only way to get any help was to speak to a therapist. I told you that my problem was dealing with coworkers and their bullshit and now you’re just going to throw in the towel?”

He shook his head. Then the therapist swiveled around in his chair, to the little cabinet beside his desk. After rummaging through the top drawer, he pulled something out.

“No, I want to help you. But I think this is your best option.”

The therapist handed him a 30-day trial package of pale blue, oval shaped pills. The blister packs were attached to a card that read: “Solvasall.” The patient just stared at the package.

“These will really help.”

“How, how will these help?”

“Well,” the therapist scratched the back of his neck and said, “I just think they’ll help.”

The patient flipped the package over and shook his head.

“You’re just a therapist; you’re not even supposed to suggest medication. Do you even have a clear idea of how this pill is apparently supposed to ‘help’?”

“No.” The therapist said. “No, I really don’t.”

There was a long silence between them. The patient finally stood up, tossed the package on the desk and made his way for the door. The therapist looked on helplessly as the patient stood at the door for a solid minute, as if he were debating the benefits of ending this professional relationship. Then he stopped and faced the therapist, apparently wanting to unload one last time.

“Why did you even get into this line of work? Why spend all that time and money getting your degrees and then your doctorate, just so you could pursue this as a career?”

This time, there was no silence. Almost as if the therapist had been wondering at this his entire life, and was only waiting until someone finally had the balls to call him out.

“I wanted to help people once.” He paused. The patient was still standing there, prompting him to continue. “When we’re kids, they ask us what we want to be. They tell us about these wonderful careers and how everyone should do their best to be a productive member of society and all I wanted to do was help people.

“So I went to school, got my scholarships and did the work and do you know what I realized when I finally saw my first patient? I realized that we live in a supermarket society that expects results with the click of a button. Those of us who are good at our jobs find a way to drag out the relationship with a patient so that we have a steady source of income. Those of us who are terrible seize on the first easy solution we can think of. Then there are the lucky few that land the book deals, or translate the right papers and we gain the worldwide following we need to pay off our student loans and put the down payment on the nice house with the sundeck and the pool.”

“Where are you in that equation?” The patient asked.

“I’m the one that figured all that out and stopped trying.” The therapist blurted out. He knew this was completely unprofessional, but he couldn’t stop himself from going on. “Somewhere down the line, this just became a paycheck for me just like your jobs were only a paycheck for you. It sucks, but it’s what you’re stuck with and you have to make due. Or at least, I do. Like you pointed out, I spent all that money on school and now I have the debts to pay off and nothing to show for them.

“The truth is, I’m stuck between wanting to help you and having to help myself. I don’t want to take advantage of you, but I don’t want you to go trashing me in online forums, or in one of those patient satisfaction surveys that expect me to be some mythical being with the powers of foresight and telepathy. So the second I realized you were going to be more than two sessions worth of work, I fell back on the cheap and easy solution. I’m sorry for being human.”

The patient considered the therapist’s position. He glanced at the clock and then at the therapist. He sat down and leaned forward.

“I’ll make a deal with you.”

The therapist shrugged, but didn’t object.

“How about I promise not to treat you like an all knowing, mythical being and you agree not to treat me like a paycheck. Let’s agree right away that we’re both human and that we both need each other to continue.”

The therapist considered the patient’s offer. He glanced at his notes and then at the pills on the desk. He tore the notes from the yellow pad and crumpled them, with the trial package, into a tight ball and tossed them into the wastebasket. He picked up a pen and looked at his patient.

“Hello, Mister Crawford. What brings you in today?”

Bitter Coffee ~ A Short Story

Forty became fourteen, fourteen became one hundred and one hundred became seven. Only in retail did that kind of math make sense and then only to the people who signed the paychecks. Right now, Jack only needed a dollar, seventy-five to get through the next hour, which would lead him to the four he desperately needed to turn one hundred into one, twenty-five and make it to ten and a half if he was really lucky.

The aroma hit his brain, lifting the fog as he took a deep breath. The cafe was brightly lit which stung his eyes at first, but then he settled on the Halloween décor which was already covering the walls. In a glass case in the corner, a scarecrow with a pumpkin head waved at him from top of a cake he wished he could bite into – mostly because the chemicals used to preserve it would put him in the hospital long enough to get some sleep, but he was sure it would be a tasty way to start the unintended vacation.

“Here you go.” Kathy filled the mug to the brim and nudged it towards him. As always, she didn’t leave room for milk and she gave him that playful, all knowing grin that annoyed him when he first met her almost two years ago.

Even now he could remember conversation that cemented their relationship. He had just come off the night shift at a school for trouble teens and was about to begin an eight hour shift at the store. With only two hours to get showered and dressed, he stopped into the Bake Shop, just down the road from his apartment.

“Coffee with three espresso shots please.” He said, pulling out his wallet.

Kathy frowned.

“We usually only serve it with two.”

“Can I have three please?”

“Alright, but even two shots isn’t very good for you.”

“Make it four.”

Whether it was from exhaustion or not, Jack’s voice remained deadpan and maybe that’s why Kathy laughed that morning. She gave him his four shots with a friendly reminder that it still wasn’t good for his heart. Her smile made the bitter coffee easier to swallow.

Anytime he had a buck, seventy-five, he went to the Bake Shop. She wasn’t always there, but she was always there. Even if the cashier was a snotty college brat, his brain was rarely functioning enough to register that it wasn’t Kathy’s concerned frown or affectionate grin responding to his simple requests for coffee and however many shots he thought he would need. Sometimes she talked him down from the ledges so to speak.

Today she ordered for him. Jack was barely awake and this time it wasn’t because he had two jobs, or three jobs, or one job that was equally tasking until the big thing in the news occurred. This time the hours were barely enough to cover the rent and to please the other people who wanted his sweat and his blood. This time he couldn’t sleep, because he was certain that every morning would be the beginning of his life on the streets.

Kathy must have seen him, barely awake, his head in his hands and his elbows on the counter.
“It’s light roast,” she said. “None of your ‘Next Stop Cardiac’ crap. Just drink it.”
He couldn’t argue with that. Mostly because he was too tired to know what he was arguing about. The first cautious sip was warm and bitter. Jack grimaced. How had he managed to choke this stuff down all of his adult life?

Jack reached for the sugar and Kathy stopped him.

“Oh no you don’t.”

“Jeez, Kathy I’m not in the mood.”

“None of us are, Jack.” Kathy leaned forward, almost getting right into his face. They had never been closer than the counter before, but he wasn’t as surprised by the action as he was by how serious she seemed all of a sudden. “But all the sugar in the world isn’t going to make it any sweeter.”

Kathy pulled out a packet of salt and tore it open. Before Jack could say anything, she carefully shook a small amount into the coffee and started to stir it with the spoon.

“What are you doing?”

“There, take a sip.”

Jack stared at her, incredulously. He looked from her to the coffee and had to fight the urge to get up and storm out. All he wanted was this little but of comfort to help him understand the six months of showing up for his shift on time, doing a damn better job than the guy who had been there for ten years, only to have to suddenly compete with some bratty high school kid for his right to a fair amount of the hours. Instead she was making things more complicated.

“Right or wrong, the coffee is on the house.” Kathy said, easing the tension. She knew when to push him and when to let him be. Clearly, this was time to push and he didn’t want to storm out.

“Fine,” Jack said.

He took a sip and was surprised to find that the bitterness had gone. There was no salty flavor exactly, but the bitter coffee was somehow tastier. Jack took another sip to see if he was imagining things and it was the same.

Kathy stood back and shrugged.

“Just a little trick I picked up,” she said. “Maybe everything else will get better too.”
For the first time that he could remember, Jack found himself returning the smile.