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Rabbit in Paris
by Zsolt Stanik

People are unique creatures. Everyone has something the other does not and those who are "different" sometimes defy usual practices. Others will then touch their foreheads and say things like “how crazy can you get". But these special people believe it is they who are absolutely normal.

There was a man who knew how to be special and how to enjoy himself in the process of ignoring his neighbours and society. Jean Lefebre, an extravagant Parisian painter. Like many I hear you say. Well, Jean was more extravagant than most. Tall, skin and bone, aged fifty or thereabouts, with a proud head of thick, albeit greying hair falling down on to his shoulders, a fine moustache with upward turned tips, stiffened with beer, smoothly shaven face and a hairy chest, proudly demonstrated to the world by an unbuttoned, chequered shirt, worn casually over his jeans. The sleeves were rolled up his long arms to the elbow. On his neck he wore a silk scarf and on the left ring finger a huge gold ring with a protruding gemstone, which could be used as a weapon. The trouble was that during the cold winter, he found it extremely difficult to find gloves that would fit his left hand. On his feet he wore large, leather, lace-up shoes with thick soles.

He lived in a vast studio in the loft of a large nine-storey building, in Paris. The layout of the studio was as peculiar as its owner and consisted of a large hall and tiny auxiliary rooms e.g., bedrooms, a kitchen, a toilet, a bathroom and a walk-in closet. The ceiling of the large hall was fully glazed, which gave Jean the impression of living in the open air: the sun, clouds and sky above and green grass under foot. Yes, lush green grass covered three quarters of the floor area of the studio. The floor was insulated, covered in earth and a computer controlled drainage system, which not only irrigated the grass but also supplied it with nourishment. It was intentionally full of weeds – goodies like dandelions, clover and the like. The system was by no means cheap. But his love of rabbits outweighed the costs. During the day it was inhabited by six lovely rabbits, named after his girlfriends, regardless of the sex of his lovely pets. “I could”, Jean argued, “have a large rabbit farm if I were to use the names of all my girl-friends”. At that time there was Simone, Denise, Margarette, Tereze, Claudette and Antoinette. They all had enough to nibble, a free range to hop about in during the daytime and a cosy bedroom in one of the closets. This closet was open all day and served as an area for their droppings with airing windows, that opened and closed, controlled by an automatic system. Jean even loved the very specific odour of his pets. He operated a computer-controlled droppings-evacuation system and cleaning system. This allowed him to enjoy his pets and fully devote himself to painting.

Jean also loved to work to the tones of music, namely American jazz from the 1920īs. He believed his pets, especially his favourite Denise, loved this kind of soothing music. He would simply do anything to make the lives of his pets as pleasant as possible. He wanted his rabbits to eat like kings in an environment fit for royalty. And to achieve this he would do anything.

One fine, bright morning he looked down and lo and behold, just below him on the balcony of the eighth floor, he saw that his neighbour, Anne-Marie had a kitchen garden. Meaning, not only flowers, but also exceptional goodies to eat, such as lettuce, peas and beans. What a feast for my beloved pets, Jean thought. And then he designed a plan, one that would naturally, only work in the absence of Anne-Marie. On that very day Jean went into action, shopping for a long rope and baby safety straps with tiny panties, size Rabbit. When he got back he meticulously put together a fitting rabbit suit with openings for rabbit legs. “Now my darlings you will do something no rabbit has ever done before. And it will not take long and it will be beyond anything any rabbit has ever dreamt of," said Jean. And he ran downstairs to find out whether or not Anne-Marie was home. He rang the doorbell but no one answered, so he decided to start the experiment immediately. He ran upstairs took Simone, dressed her up in the safety straps and slowly but surely let her down on the rope. Safely on the 8th floor balcony, Simone headed straight for the lettuce. Jean gave her some time to feed and then pulled her up. The other four followed suit with Denise, the favourite, being lowered down to the finest vegetables. He had no intention of devastating the vegetable garden below, because in his plan of action, this definitely was not to be the last time. He gave each of the four, a taste of the goodies, offered them what he believed was a pleasant experience, which he himself had enjoyed tremendously and then pulled them up again. What would Anne-Marie have to say, he wondered. He knew she loved pets – but did she also enjoy rabbits? He would soon get the answer to that question.

Two days later, Jean was giving his beloved Denise a taste of paradise, when Anne-Marie unexpectedly returned home. She opened the balcony door to air her flat when she caught a glimpse of the rabbit-paraglider coming down from above. “Now, this must be a bad dream”, she thought, as she watched the scene. Denise comfortably landed onto the vegetable patch and Anne-Marie was furious. All the more when she discovered that the rabbit was devouring her best lettuce. She ran for the scissors and cut the rope.

Jean was in total shock. There was nothing he could do. He knew Anne-Marie was no tame shrew and that there was no place for discussion with a lady who was holding good fresh meat which had fallen from heaven, and had just attempted to devour her vegetables.

Yes, Anne-Marie loved rabbits, especially in cream sauce. Jean was to find out in a few days’ time. “For the unprecedented roguery, Mr. Lefebre,” she screamed, “I have eaten your rabbit.” But that was not enough. She went on to vent her fury by laying out the bones of poor Denise on the balcony floor, on display for Jean to see. Someone else might have pulled the bones up, say farewell, and lay the bones to rest. Not so Jean. He was simply different. Following the procedure of the tragic event, he intended the ceremony to be mediated through the pleasant feelings of another pet. A pet dog would respond, he thought. He would love the bones. I could then embrace him and a bit of that warmth from Denise would come back to me, he thought. And so, shortly after he had designed this plan, he borrowed a nice black poodle from a lady, who was walking her dog in the nearby park. The owner of the dog, who gave her consent to Jean’s plan, stood under Anne-Marie’s balcony and watched Jean airing her poodle above. A crowd soon assembled. People do many strange things; they all thought and touched their foreheads. The poodle licked the bones laid out on the balcony. Satisfied Jean pulled him up. He then embraced the poodle and felt the warmth of his beloved Denise being transferred to him through this peculiar medium. Jean then returned the poodle to his owner.

The King is dead, long live the King, Jean thought and decided to name his new pet rabbit after Beatrice, another girlfriend.

So what do you think – was Jean, painter, artist and rabbit lover out of his mind?