You know how when your neighbor is chasing you around with that fifteen-inch barbed dildo and electrical nipple clamps, your heart swells up with such a rush of adrenaline that you feel like you might die right then and there in a pantsful of terror-based soft-serve shit? That’s how I felt the day when I was fourteen and being hunted by a cannibalistic rabbit.
I was ambivalent when my brother Ryan won the fight against our parents, the one where every seven-year-old begs, pleads, promises, swears that they’re responsible enough, that they’ll feed it, that they’ll scrape the shit off the floor and pet it and hold it and love it forever and forever, until my parents cried uncle and allowed him to bring home a rabbit. He chose a standard black and white cow-spotted one and after quickly conferring with me, the all-knowing Big Sister and thinker of The Best Names EVER, the final choice for the new pet’s name was Rudy, after one of the kids from Monster Squad, a Kelly Family classic.
Rudy was a motherfucker. We kept him in a large cage in the garage, where he would gnaw at the flesh upon our fingers every chance he got. Feeding him was a nightmare, and I began to fear it more than church. My mom, trying to shove a carrot in between the grid of his cage, was left with a shaving of thumb skin dangling in the air, exposing the bright pink under layer of her hand. And that was only a sampling of the damage Rudy could cause.
That summer, my dad bought a hutch for him; we thought perhaps being one with nature would soften his temper, maybe the birds could do some social-workin’ on his dingleberried ass. But evidently, the great outdoors amplified his testosterone level and Rudy just kept growing more violent and more bloodthirsty.
One fateful day, Rudy squeezed his way out of the hutch when I was attempting, nervously. to toss some slop into his bowl. I was almost relieved, figuring instinct would send him hopping for the woods at the edge of our yard. Instead, he set his beady evil eyes hungrily on my legs. His nose twitched devilishly. For one frozen moment, we stood in tense stances: Rudy, hunched over awaiting to pounce; me, half-twisted at my waist, anticipating the start of a chase. Almost as if a gunshot fired, Rudy and I unfroze at the same time and I began sprinting wildly and blindly through the backyard, Rudy hot on my heels. I wasn’t sure if my appendages were going to be used as a humping post or a dinner buffet, but neither sounded very savory to me. I screamed in vain for someone, anyone to come to my aid. Preferably the Crocodile Hunter.
Bring a shotgun! I don’t care!
My dad was in the garage, engaging in a leisurely afternoon phone conversation, when I whizzed past him, followed closely by a black and white streak of unbridled fury.
Hysterically, I screeched, “Daddy help me! Before he kills me! Daddy help!”
An outsider might have mistaken my screams for over-dramatics. But my dad was no stranger to the extent of injury we feared Rudy could cause, and so he abandoned the telephone in favor of a broom, then quickly joined the frantic chain of hunter and the hunted. My dad gained on him and began swatting with frenzied heroics, but it was all for naught: Rudy was too quick and agile for me, his paws powered by the wrath of Hell, and soon had me tackled to the freshly mowed grass.
Rudy’s sharp bucked teeth pierced through the flesh on my ankle. I swung and kicked my leg around, like I was the bull at the rodeo, but his fanged clench abated. My dad finally unlatched him with one hard smack of the broom. I’m against animal cruelty, but Rudy earned no tears from me that day.
Later that summer, even though I vowed to never speak to Rudy again, I didn’t think twice about coming to his aid when our dog, Dazee, chased him into the neighbor’s yard before grabbing his neck with her gnashing jaws. When I reached the scene, Rudy lay unmoving under a pine tree. Luckily, I was in the middle of summer health class, so I grabbed my notes and embarked in a relentless series of CPR attempts.
Sadly, Rudy was a goner. I think of him every time I look at the scar on my ankle.