Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chapter Two

Everybody has a laughing place, and on this dusty country road, it seems that Brer Fox has finally found his.

“We done caught you, Brer Rabbit!” he cackles triumphantly. Behind him, Brer B’ar nods dumbly and chuckles. He casually holds a gigantic club (more of a tree stump, really) in his massive paws.

Doused in honey, Brer Rabbit struggles weakly, almost absently, to free himself from the smashed beehive, as if the syrupy prison is nothing more than a skeeter bite.

“You hear me?” says Brer Fox, and he leans in hungrily. “We done caught you, Brer Rabbit, and there ain’t no escapin’ this time.” For added effect, he grins foxily and licks his lips.

“Yup, yup,” adds Brer B’ar. “Ain’t no escape.”

“Thass right,” says Brer Fox. “We ain’t gonna throw you in the Briar Patch this time, nosirree. We just gonna eat you up.”

Brer Rabbit says nothing.

The bees continue to buzz happily, and Brer B’ar still chuckles dumbly, but there’s no sound from Brer Rabbit. He isn’t shaking or shivering or begging for mercy, and worse still, there’s no sign of that delicious fear in his eyes.

“What’s a matter? You got honey in yo’ ears or somethin’?” sneers Brer Fox. He grabs the sticky scruff of Brer Rabbit’s neck and tries to turn him ‘round and face the proper way.

“He done got honey all over him, Brer Fox,” observes Brer B’ar.

“I kin see that, dummy,” says Brer Fox.

With his other hand, he pokes Brer Rabbit square in the chest.

“Listen, you, and y’better pay attention. We gotcha and we gotcha good. What you got to say to that? Huh, Brer Rabbit? You in a stew now, ‘cause we gonna stew y’up!”

Still Brer Rabbit says nothing. He looks blearily at his enemies, trying to recognize them, and though his mouth slowly opens and closes, no words come out.

“Brer Rabbit look sick,” says Brer B’ar.

With some effort, Brer Fox unsticks his hands from the honeyed mess. He eyes his prey, who continues mouthing silently.

“I hate to admit you’re right,” says Brer Fox, “but you may be right... Naw, what am I saying? He, he’s foolin’!” Nodding at his own suggestion, Brer Fox slugs his larger companion for believing another of Brer Rabbit’s tricks. “He tryin’ to trick us so we let him go!”

And before he can convince himself otherwise, Brer Fox picks up the still-silent rabbit and carries him over to the waiting cauldron.

“You ain’t sick, Brer Rabbit. You just up to your old tricks. But they ain’t gonna work this time! I don’t know what you was thinkin’, just dodderin’ around here, play-actin’ like you’s sleepwalkin’. This is one trick we ain’t gonna fall for!”

Both fail to notice Brer Rabbit’s missing tail, torn off by Brer Tarrypin not too long ago. At first, the only thing that had been wounded was Brer Rabbit’s pride, as he had the fluffiest tail this side of the big river, and he was pretty sure it wouldn’t grow back.

But as the hours passed, he started to feel not quite right, until he was wandering around, barely conscious, right under the hungry eyes of Brer Fox and Brer B’ar.

Now he can’t even distinguish the constant drone of the honeybees from Brer Fox’s singing about rabbit stew. Slices of carrot, celery, and potato are added to the cauldron, and even when the water starts to boil, Brer Rabbit doesn’t scream.