There is a rabbit on the pavement, with long soft bunny ears and big bunny feet with fur between the toes. It is sitting up, all alertness, not running yet, wiggling its nose at him. Because it is simply there in the open with the sky above it, John does not understand why it is not fleeing from him. He crouches low and extends his hand, slowly if stiffly, setting down his Faro case. He is on his way to deal at the saloon, but the rabbit must be tame, for it hippity hops over to him and looks up expectantly. Perhaps it is a magician's rabbit. In any case, there are dogs about, to say nothing of citizens over-eager for stew.
He picks it up, so soft and cleanly white. It nestles into his arms, and he is enchanted.
Once Gabriel had become bunnies for him, at Easter, as he could be a flock of crows or ravens, a school of (freshwater) angelfish. John had spent a delightful time encouraging their trust and little attentions, watching them move sometimes separately, sometimes clearly with one will. He had fed them fresh greens, and let one curl up to sleep in his waistcoat. He will never harm any rabbit now, and indeed finds them irresistibly attractive.
The bunny turns, nuzzling his wrist and he feels a warm pleasant current run through him, almost luxuriant.
Suddenly, the Alhambra does not seem so important. He can go deal Faro tomorrow. Normally he puts in an appearance or sends a message, even if he does not intend to work. But it is a nice day and he has the excuse of having slept poorly and a tubercular pain in his chest. He seats himself on the edge of the sidewalk as it is convenient. The dear rabbit squirms and hops away with a powerful kick of its big bunny feet. He watches it serenely, but no longer feels conscientious enough to save it from an unfortunate fate. He leans against a post for a small pleasant snooze.
On waking he decides to simply entertain himself. Rather than taking the faro case back to his room, he walks into the nearby Oriental and deposits it with Morgan. He is needed as casekeeper there but performs his duties perfunctorily, thinking more of the softness and furriness of the little rabbit, especially his feet. As the deck becomes thinner he feels an unrelated desire for spaghetti. This is something he regards as a pleasant novelty and he immediately rises in search of it. The turn has not yet been called, and Morgan looks up in alarm fearing he is severely ill. But John is already departing, his trousers and the edge of his jacket marred by dust from the road.
It is a good thing he has already washed and shaved. Across the street he sees Ike Clanton combing his hair and the rabbit hopping further down the boardwalk.
He investigates the lunch counter and, when he discovers there is no actual spaghetti being served he does not approach the hotel but settles for ice-cream and lemonade, into which he pours a healthy slug of scotch, then another and another. Wyatt pulls up a chair next to him, taking the flask from his hand and simply pouring it into his mouth. He catches John's eye and laughs, his eyes crinkling. He points at John's coat and snickers, then prat-falls from the chair in parody of Eddie Foy. "Did you see that remarkable trained rabbit out there on the street?"
John shrugs and does not bother to answer.
But as the alcohol makes its way, flowing through their veins to supply their intellectual centres with added golden stimulation, they feel another current sizzling cold. And they stare at one another aghast.
Immediately they become sheepish.
"I should be at the Alhambra."
"I need a cup of coffee."
Ike Clanton enters, snuggling the sweet and enticing rabbit, who wibbles his nose attractively. When Ike offers to stand them lunch, they recoil in alarm.
Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 680
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