5. The Rabbit, Part 2

“What am I supposed to do with a rabbit?” she said, handing her friend a coffee.

“You could always boil it up,” her friend said, more than a little high-pitched. “I hear it’s very good all peppered up.”

“You could eat this rabbit?” She turned to the friend, who sipped and winked.

The friend said, “Well last night, did you give them to him? Was he thrilled? You’ve been at this plan for weeks.”

“Oh, yes, yes,” she said. “Pelgram is such a romantic. It went just as I’d planned, yes.”

She was always early. But didn’t expect him to be. She stood under an awning, across from the bridge, waiting. She almost jumped when he appeared with the cage and the rabbit. And shadows, always that long shadow he walked with, like a knife for cutting.

“We met under the lamp. You remember when I told you that the first thing I noticed about him was his shadow.”

“Which I never understood.”


And it was his shadow that first appeared, which is what made her jump. The last orange sunset light had crawled before him, complicated by the bridge lamps. At first she wanted to dash across and up the slight cobble rise, meet him, show him.

“He gave me just a little kiss and smiled, the way he does. Oh my, the dinner, the dinner with wine at Adaggio’s. Yes. The dinner and the wine were wonderful.”

Her friend said, “But the tickets. How did he respond? Go on.”

The rabbit padded to a leaf. Began its quiet nibble. It observed while chewing whatever rabbits observe.

“I’ll get to that. Wait. It’s a story.”

She waited. He put the cage down. Stood there for a moment watching the water, his shadow foreshortened, drawn at angles by the bridge lamps, crosses behind him.

“We talked. We ordered another bottle. It was going down like water, you see. Wine and laughter. He told me about how his parents had met in China. Yes in China.”

“China now that’s a coincidence. His parents met in China? Was he born in China?”

He left the cage, the rabbit, which she couldn’t believe. He’d attached a note. With the rabbit and the note, she followed him across intersections. She hid behind an elderly couple. Pelgram walked slow, as if in no particular hurry, shadowless on this dim boulevard. He held to a brick wall, waited. He watched for the Walk sign. Crossed. Once he looked behind and she sided to a nook in a wall, holding the small package to her heart.

“Yes, he was born in China. They moved back to San Francisco when he was four. Imagine that. His parents separated. He went to school. Was very successful at the school of architecture. Went back to China, worked there for years, then became lead at the firm here. He told me about some merger, some big deal upon which everything depended and I mean everything. He said it all went smashingly.”

“And so he gave you a rabbit? I think it’s a sable or something like that.”

He leaned to a cab at a line. She had to time this one well, better than she’d had to other days. “Can you follow that one?” she asked the cabbie, who said, “Yup.”

She sensed watching eyes from the dark row windows, one lit high in a house where she imagined children reading. She watched a house across the street from behind a tree, where the moon played and passed from behind the leaves. She wondered if it was an elm, an oak. The bark was rough and cold. She felt the weight of the rabbit. An orange cigarette coal rose and fell, rose and fell from the dark of the porch, then he appeared, stepped down the sidewalk.

“Yes,” she said. “He said he used to raise them. He said they’d always been a part of his life, and that’s why it was a gift to me.”

“Dear, this sounds like commitment,” her friend said. “But you still haven’t told me about yours, these wonderful coincidental tickets to China. What did he say. Tell me.”

She knew nothing of boats. At the marina, 1:00 AM shown bright green on the surface of her watch. She never knew of a boat, never knew of that house. Pelgram’s boat leaning with the movement of the night’s thicker surfs, the ocean out there past the flags and the masts flat and crystal and loud but not loud. He was a dark shadow on the docks, an even thinner shade at the wheel. This was her thought: If I’d just known of a boat. What adventures we’d have.

She heard the engine come to life. Slowly the boat moved away, this now 1:15 craft. It grew small. The water calmed. Over the hills at either edge, the stars crowded, while the moon hung big and silver like something that should fall and sink into the sea. She unfolded the note and looked for words. But the paper was blank.

She watched the rabbit. She listened to it chew. She said, “He was thrilled, so thrilled. He said China this time of year is something not to miss, something to long for.”

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