Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Black Hare
The Black Hare
I don’t really know why you would care to hear this story again, but I’ll tell it. Mind you, this old lady doesn’t find any joy in telling it. I’m not long for this earth, and there are much more pleasant thoughts with which to occupy my time, young man.
Alright, you know how it began. My husband Walter was working in the yard as usual. You know, if it weren’t for Walter always needing to be working in the yard, we wouldn’t even be discussing this. Walter and his gardening. I’d thought being a golf-widow had been suffrage enough, but once Walter got too old for that, he’d gone to gardening. What’s wrong with that, you say? Fresh air, a feeling of accomplishment? Let me tell you, I knew what he was up to. Avoiding me. I’m fair skinned, you know. An hour in that Florida sun and I’d swoon. Never cared for rolling around in the dirt. I refused to clean his clothes after a day of rutting around. He’d wear the same shirt and pants until they were literally rags, then rinsing them with the hose, hanging them on the clothes line for God and everyone to see. Who knows what the neighbors thought!
Yes, I’ve wandered a bit. As I was saying, Walter was working in the yard.
I sat in the shade on the back porch, sipping on an ice tea, reading one of my romances. There are people in this world that are truly in love, young man; in those books. I usually kept to the air conditioning, but I think I chose the shade of the porch as it was an unusually cool day for July. I think I sat there, relaxing with my drink and a book to spite Walter, just a little bit. That’s when he called out to me.
“Look, Martha. Look!” he shouted to me from the very back corner of the yard, “It’s a hare! Entirely black!”
As soon as I heard ‘black hare’ I dropped my tea. It burst all over the stone porch floor. My book joined it, soon ruined and wet.
“It’s gone. You should’ve seen it. Maybe somebody’s pet got loose? Oh, well,” he said. Oh, well?
Walter went right back to weeding around his roses, by God. Yellow roses. I hate yellow roses. They were the color of pee, excuse my French. Went right back to his task. Germans. What do they know? Any Irishman worth his salt knows an omen of death when he sees one. And Walter had seen one. I was terrified. Soon a death would come to our household. There was no denying it. No avoiding it. Never begin to make a dress on Saturday, or the wearer will die within the year. Those who marry in autumn will die in spring. A broken mirror brings seven years bad luck. The fool! Walter had seen the omen, and was none the wiser!
I went inside, my stomach sour from the tea; my book forgotten. I sat hard on the nearest kitchen chair, ringing my hands, wiping them on my apron. Who would die? Myself? If only. I’m seventy seven years old; take me now Lord, if you should feel fit to. My Granddaughter? The dear had lost her mother, my daughter, but two years previous. Not even the Devil himself was going to take her away from me!
“What happened here?” said Walter, when he came onto the porch. He sounded concerned, but then men have their ways to undermine you. Never completely trust a man, even a husband. No offense meant, I hope none taken.
I sat crying at the table, my eyes blurred with tears. I could hardly make out the pattern of the apples and oranges on the wallpaper. You can well imagine my distress. Walter was as cool as a cucumber.
“Now, now. No use crying over a broken glass and a paperback romance…” he started, laying his dirty hands on my shoulders. Thoughts of my little girl lying in state darkened my eyes to pitch. I would lose her! Not another! Walter was oblivious. Walter became silent after I’d shrugged him off. He got the broom and dust pan from the broom closet at the top of the basement stairs. I tried to explain what he’d seen. He told me not to get hysterical. Can you believe that? Not get hysterical? Didn’t he care for our baby? A callous man, Walter. Callous. He cleaned up the mess. I heard that broken glass hit the bottom of that dust bin with the finality of a broken heart. My broken heart. I decided it wasn’t going to end this way. I’d save my Granddaughter! Walter went to put back the broom. That’s when I pushed him. You want me to tell it all again? That’s when I pushed him down the stairs. He was the one who saw the black hare. He brought it on us. He might have lived, you know? He might not have split his head the way you say he did. If he had lived, I’d have been resigned to believe it were me or my grand-baby that were to die. But God chose Walter, now didn’t he?
I didn’t know what to do. That’s why it took a couple of days to call you. My sweet Emily convinced me it was the right thing to do. Fifteen and so smart! I’ve told you everything twice over. It’s time to go? Alright, Officer Michael, I’ll go. You’ll find a good home for my grand-baby, won’t you?