Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Unusual Stake

I was engaged in a friendly game of cards the other night at a local tavern when a fellow walked in and asked to join the game.

“You are welcome to join us,” I said, “but you’ll need at least ten dollars to start.”

“Ten dollars!” he cried. “I don’t got no ten dollars. Does it have to be cash money?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked.

“Just a minute,” he said, and walked out. He returned hefting a sack over his shoulder with a large, live animal of some kind kicking inside.

“What’ll you take for this critter?” he asked.

“What is it?” I replied.

“See for yourself,” he said. “Weighs a good 50 pounds at least, I should think.”

“Fifty pounds?” I said.

“Take a gander,” he said, swinging the sack over his shoulder and slamming it on the floor as if he was breaking up a load of walnuts. The sack’s contents lay still. “Only be careful. Don’t let him out.”

Cautiously, I untied the twine and peered inside. There, stunned and insensible, lay the largest rabbit I had ever seen. Its size alone would be cause for remark, but I could not help notice that it was also wearing a red vest and bow tie.

“My good man, do you know what you have here?!” I cried.

“World’s biggest jackrabbit,” he said.

“Yes, but in addition to that! This is the one and only Easter bunny!”

“The Easter what?” he said.

“Rabbit! You know, the one that brings colored eggs to little children.”

It turned out the gentleman, who’d grown up in the back woods, had never heard of said creature.

“Eggs? Rabbits don’t have nothin’ to do with eggs,” he said.

I assured him that this one did.

“Well what’ll you give me for ‘im?”

I was a little short on funds, but a way forward occurred to me.

“I will stake you in this game, sir, in exchange for your rabbit.” He thanked me and sat down to play. The sack on the floor remained immobile.

As it turned out, he drew several poor hands and the game was soon over. I thanked him for his trouble and carried the sack out to my wagon.

“What are you doing?!” a voice exclaimed behind me. I whirled around. It was the sheriff.

“Shh!” I said. “I am taking a present home to my wife and I do not wish to disturb the contents.”

“And what would that be?” he asked.

“You would not believe me if I told you,” I said, “- but we shall never lack for eggs again!”

“I’ll bet you won’t,” he replied. “We’ve had reports of chickens disappearing and I think I’ve found the culprit.”

So saying, he grabbed the sack and began to open it.

“No!” I cried. “Don’t let it loo-“

Heedless of my warning, he un-cinched the sack and shook it. A large white-and-red blur fell onto the ground, kicked up considerable dust, and took off like a bolt of boiled lightning, knocking the sheriff over in the process.

“I told you not to open the sack,” I said loudly when he regained consciousness.

The sheriff did not see it that way. The fine he charged cost me the rest of my winnings. I offered to pay with a case of my elixir, but he refused.

I must look into to getting flashier packaging. You can’t always count on the locals accepting a marvel, whether it comes in a bottle or sack, or other common container.

Copyright © 2013 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

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