Ajay Rogers and the Vampire Bunnies, Part 2

Experimentation Log – 26 October – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Just a Kid

First of all, it’s not my fault. I was just trying to make the rabbits tamer. It’s not my fault I can understand what they’re thinking. So, when Charlie first started catching the rabbits, I thought if I mixed them with normal old earth white rabbits, it would make them nicer. It did. That part of the experiment was a success. How was I supposed to know it would make them like being around people? And then imitate them. I even had to google César Chávez.

Note: Make sure the TV remote is nowhere near where Kayotae can reach it. That little bunny’s got issues. Whoever heard of bunny’s rights? What the heck is she talking about?

Double Note: Look up Che Guevara. On second thought: don’t. I liked them better when they were just sneaking out and hunting dogs. I feel bad about Aunt Charlotte’s little Chihuahua.

 

***

 

Experimentation Log – 28 October – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Screwed

I’ve been staring at this stupid computer screen for fifteen minutes. I don’t know how to write this so it doesn’t sound like I’m making it up. The rabbits seem to be planning some kind of revolt. A Coo-Day-Ta (sp?).

I had the bunnies in the backyard playing, and this little brown bunny comes hopping up like he lives here. So Rocky walks over, and the bunny bows to him. It. Flipping. Bowed! To. Him.

What the Heck? Over.

Then they get all whispery, and they’re looking back at me every so often. So I get suspicious and I walk closer to them. Suddenly Kayotae hops over to me, and starts acting friendly. And, get this … she looks up at me and says, “You love me.” I like to died laughing. I told her to go away, ‘cause I’m not Charlie, and that stuff won’t work on me. She got really mad, and started chasing me all over the yard. The little monster bit through my sneaks and made me drop my hat! Then she took the hat over to Buzz. Buzz ate my hat! My grandpa gave me that hat.

So anyway, I still could overhear the rabbits a little. The little brown one was asking, “Bunny swarm now?” He doesn’t talk so good.

Rocky told him no, then looked at me and said, “Need more bunnies.”

I think I might be in big trouble.

Oh yeah, and the stupid dragons’ laughing keeps me up half the night. I don’t know what is so danged funny about hunting raccoons. Stupid dragons.

Note: Give things another couple of weeks, then maybe tell Robin. She’ll keep Auntie Charlotte from killing me.

I’m so dead.

 ***

Experimentation Log – 18 November – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Rabbit Herder

Well, some bunnies staged some kind of rescue at the Bunny World Rabbit Sanctuary in Suffolk. At first, I didn’t pay it any attention. But then Robin read how over a hundred rabbits were stolen, even though the place was still locked. All they found was a hole in the wire fence near the ground, and rabbit tracks. The police think someone who used to work there stole some keys, and let the rabbits out by cutting the hole in the fence.

That’s what we thought too.

But Kayotae let it slip that she was in love with the bunny who lead the “rescue mission.” That rabbit cannot keep a secret. Anyway, so we grilled Kayotae until she talked. I found an old high chair in the attic and we strapped Kayotae in it and shone a light on her. She’s a tough little bunny. It took almost an hour to get her to talk. (Well, an hour and a piece of carrot cake.)

Apparently, Rocky had been working with other small rabbit groups in the area. They managed to sneak five or six bunnies on a UPS truck that took them to Suffolk. Those crazy bunnies even left a box for UPS to take to the bunny sanctuary. UPS picked it up, and all they had to do is follow the box. You’d think the UPS people would have noticed half a dozen brown rabbits hopping around.

Anyway, they got to Suffolk, found the rabbits, and set them free.

Kay said they were all chanting “Amandla Awethu.” We have google that later. I don’t know if I spelled that right – rabbits spell funny.

So now, Robin said, “Miss Kayotae and Mr. Rocky are on double restriction.” No more outdoor trips for those guys.

We’ve found out there are hundreds of these little bunny groups all over Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. Rocky and Kay won’t talk, but we have cake, and we have Buzz. I think we’ll have a nice little map laid out by morning. Buzz told us they were trying to start a bunny group in Washington, DC, but the rats kept killing them.

Robin said, “Sheesh, who’re you supposed to root for in this war?”

I don’t know what she means by that. I like rats much better than rabbits.

Anyhow, now we have to figure out how to tell Aunt Charlotte. Robin says I have to do it. Man, I hate rabbits.

Ajay Rogers and the Vampire Bunnies

Ajay solo

Experimentation Log – 6 October – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Chief Scientist

These stupid vampire bunnies are freaking me out a little. So, like, Rocky has always been kind of weird. Robin says he acts more like a coyote than a rabbit. I think he’s more like a little grizzly bear. He’s not afraid of anything. Last week, he escaped from the basement den. (Okay, I may have left a door open, but that’s not the point.) Anyway, when I found him (before Mrs. Patterson came home – thank God) he was chasing a Pitt Bull down the street. Just little Rocky, hopping like crazy. The stupid dog almost knocked me down. He had a bite mark on the side of his neck, and his stupid dog eyes were about to pop out of his stupid dog head. If I hadn’t shown up when I did, that dog would have been bunny kibble.

I’m getting tired of cleaning up their messes. I’m just a nine-year-old kid. I shouldn’t have to deal with this stuff. Kayotae is teaching herself to read. How is a baby rabbit that escaped from one of my nightmares learning to read??? Aunt Charlotte is gonna kill me. Then, she’ll bring me back to life, like Frankenstein. Then, she’ll probably kill me again.

Oh, and Buzz ate Charlie’s left sneaker.

 ***

 Experimentation Log – 21 October – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Head of Genetic Research

Yikes! Please, please, please don’t let Auntie Charlotte find out!!! God, you’re reading this, right? Holy crap!

Sorry God. I meant Holy … something else.

 ***

 Experimentation Log – 23 October – Rabbit Study, Ajay Rogers, Head of Genetic Research

I think I may be okay. (Thanks, God.) A truck ran over the last of the squirrel-rabbits. They are fast like squirrels, but the vampire bunny part makes them too stubborn to move out of the way of cars. The one that got into the attic got chased away by Kayotae. Boy, she can be scary when she wants to. I sure hope for Charlie’s sake that Robin isn’t spooky like Kayotae, or he’s gonna be one unhappy guy.

The rabbits act like the people they spend the most time with. I’ve figured out that’s how they are learning to talk so well. At first, it was me, right? But I stopped when I saw Kayotae reading that old Hop on Pop book by Dr. Seuss. She thought it was the funniest thing ever. I guess if you’re a rabbit, hopping on folks is a hoot. She’s always with Robin, and that girl always has her face stuck in a book.

I KNEW books were a bad idea!!

Anyway, I stopped teaching them stuff, but they learn anyway. Turns out all the baby talk was just because they were babies. Not anymore.

Rocky acts just like Charlie. He hops back and forth when he’s mad, and scrunches his face up a lot. We think it’s hilarious, but nobody will tell Charlie. Kayotae is a furry little Robin, always cheerful and bouncy. But she’s the smartest one too, just like Robin.

Charlie thinks I have a crush on Robin, but I don’t. She’s 17 and I’m only 10. So, that’s stupid. I just think she’s smart and pretty.

(To be continued)

Days of the Never Was – Excerpt

As I’m too lazy to edit a poem, here’s an excerpt from my favorite novelette (long short story), “Days of the Never Was.” The book (The Juice and Other Stories) is free Monday, 20 January 2014, the last free day for a while. I hope you guys get a copy and enjoy the stories. I have tons more in my head, but honestly, I need more feedback as motivation.

“Days of the Never Was” (Science Fiction / Romance)

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Griff sat on the hood of Peyton’s green 1965 GTO convertible, unwrapped another Hershey’s Kiss, and popped it in his mouth.

Peyton, seated in the dirt that abutted Maryland’s Interstate 70, glanced up at his companion. “You’re going to get fat eating all that chocolate,” he said. “And would you get off my hood? Your pants will scratch the paint.”

Griff grinned, unwrapped another candy, and slid off. “Dude, these are soft corduroy. They aren’t going to hurt your precious car.” He wiped dust off his bottom and turned to look at the car, which now sported a butt-wide streak of bright forest green amidst the layer of road dust accumulated along their trip from Chicago. “Hell, I oughta charge you for the buff job. Looks like Betty hasn’t been waxed in a while.”

The other man rose, likewise brushing himself off. “‘Soft corduroy.’ Now who sounds gay?” Griff continued chewing and smiled. Getting no rise from his friend, Peyton continued. “Betty’s been garaged until two days ago. I didn’t have time to make her look  pretty.”

Griff turned and ran a hand along the car’s right front quarter panel. “A beautiful girl like this needs pampering,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

This time, an uncomfortable look crossed Griff’s face, like a cloud passing beneath the sun; however, he remained silent. Calling the man stoic was like calling space empty; it was at once an inadequate description, and completely wrong, once you knew the subject better. He was not opposed to sharing his feelings; however, it took him time to get around to it. Patience was requisite. If Griffin McKenna wasn’t ready to share, there would be no sharing.

Sighing in frustration, Peyton brushed a long strand of dark hair from his face, gave his friend a sly grin, and walked to the car’s front. “Where the hell are we, anyway?”

“Last sign I saw said ‘Boonsboro.’”

Peyton looked around. There was little to see except hills dotted with snow, evergreen trees, and open fields. “They sure named it right.”

“I don’t know, I kind of like it out here.”

“You would … farm boy. It’s like home, just not as flat. You driving the last leg, or me?”

“I’ll drive. You drive like my grandma.”

“As I recall, your grandma ran the fastest hot rod in Southern Illinois,” Peyton shot back, handing over the keys. “What was she, like first or second on the drag circuit for a few years?”

“My point exactly. You drive like a maniac. I’d like to get to D.C. alive.”

“What ever happened to Griff the wild man? I remember that one time in high school they clocked you doing 110 in a twenty-five mph zone. Now you’re all … grown up.”

Peyton stepped back and looked his friend up and down. Even now, on the first Christmas break they had spent together in a decade, the tall brunette was dressed in a conservative turtleneck, corduroys, a stylish sport coat, and boat shoes. He looked as if he could have stepped out of the cover of Needless Markup’s latest catalog. Hell, maybe he had; he was certainly handsome enough.

“What happened was that I found out that guy couldn’t get a job. So, yeah, I grew up.”  Griff smiled with half his mouth, the way he always did when he thought himself clever. “You should try it some day.”

“I grew up once. It was boring. I decided to stay young and beautiful.”

Griff erupted in a short burst of laughter. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

Peyton fixed his friend with an intense stare. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for ten years, Griff.” His voice was barely audible over the din of passing tractor-trailers.

“Peyt, I … I know, it-it’s just been hard to accept, Okay?” Vertical frown lines separated his eyes. “Jesus, can we not have this discussion again?”

They both sat back, leaning against the GTO’s gleaming grill. Peyton snatched Griff’s bag of candies and unwrapped one, pulling the little string with the care of a bomb squad expert, then unfolding the foil as if it were actual gold leaf. “I forgot how long it used to take you to open presents,” Griff said, chuckling. “You really are my grandma, you know that?”

“My ponytail is prettier,” Peyton said. He turned to his friend and shoved the chocolate into his mouth.

The taller man began to gag and cough, before recovering himself and chewing. “Jesus, you trying to kill me?” His cheeks and ears blossomed red, and he stood and walked to the driver’s door.

Peyton shrugged. “I thought you could use a kiss,” he said.

“That is so …” Griff started, but shook his head and entered in the car without finishing the sentence.

“Gay?” Peyton mouthed to himself. He allowed his eyes to close for several beats before exhaling and joining his friend in the car.

Excerpt from “He Ain’t Heavy”

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This is an excerpt from my 1st short story collection, The Juice and Other Stories. It’s available now, on Amazon.com, and is free through this Monday, 20 January. “He Ain’t Heavy” is a story about twin brothers who couldn’t be more different. One is good and the other, well, he ain’t.

“Dunc, I’m not so sure about this.”

Quentin sat with his brother under the old pier, watching him down almost half a bottle of cough syrup. He had always trusted his brother’s advice, despite his being Duncan’s elder by six minutes. Dunc had never steered him wrong. This was different, however. Today, they were tearing through boundaries that had defined the entirety of their lives. Church, school, prayer, obedience, conformity – that was the family credo. But now drugs? For the first time, Quentin began to fear how far his brother’s insistent rebellion would take them.

Continue reading “Excerpt from “He Ain’t Heavy””

Tomorrow Was Yesterday, (conclusion)

Prior sections: part 1, part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

I suppose for simplicity’s sake, from this point on I should stop marking the times of our jumps in terms of my linear age. I could use years, or Gia’s age, or any of a hundred means of marking time. Mostly, however, we thought in terms of what we began to call AS time, or years After Sex. You see, the night we hooked up in Gia’s apartment that sultry August, when the linear and non-linear strings met, was the last time either of us lived in purely linear time. From then on, it was jump after jump after jump. That was also the night, according to Gia, that we consummated our marriage.

Fortunately for my sanity, as well as my marriage, almost all of our leaps remained in tandem. I’ve studied all my life trying to understand why – quantum mechanics, advanced time warp theory, theology, you name it. Nothing helped. Gia, on the other hand, had a simpler explanation: our spirits were entwined. I shrug my shoulders at that after all of these years. Science certainly hasn’t presented us with any logical answers, so we may as well go with romantic notions.

We did have a child, as it turned out. That was a difficult endeavor, full of love and fraught with guilt. You see, our daughter is a jumper. The initial difficulty, however, was that Gia and I jumped six months into her pregnancy. One day, we were returning from the OB/GYN, happy that we’d managed another checkup without the doctor revealing the baby’s sex, and the next we were escorting our dark-haired daughter to kindergarten. Gia was distraught.

Kelli, our daughter, was equally upset, since she’d apparently jumped into her five-year-old self on her prom night. It took us most of an hour to convince her to get out of the car and be a good kindergartener. Needless to say, she did remarkably well those first three months of school, despite our implorations that she “slow down a bit.” Fortunately, soon after, she jumped to another time period, and the Kelli that was left was a normal five-year-old girl. This became the pattern with our daughter throughout her disjointed childhood –  a seemingly random series of time periods where she exceeded all expectations, followed by periods wherein she struggled, both socially and academically.

For reasons known only to God, Kelli’s jumps have always been out of synch with ours. Indeed, she seemed to jump into her childhood years relatively late in life, which lead, ironically, to her performing at a remarkable level, interrupted only by bouts of “dormancy.” Schools labeled her gifted, though possibly bipolar or suffering from borderline personality disorder. After much debate, Gia and I allowed them to think so, even thought we wouldn’t let them treat Kelli for obvious reasons. It was certainly easier than explaining her periods of dormancy were those times when the child was either the correct mental age or even younger than she should have been. When prom-night Kelli jumped to kindergarten, for example, nine-year-old (in linear years) Kelli took her place in the prom. It was a Disney Princess’ dream.

After a lifetime together, leaping from when to when, I found myself here, in a nursing home, weak of body, waiting for the inevitable day when my heart gives out. Most days, it is a struggle to breathe, with what I know is protein build-up in my brain interfering with this old body’s ability to process thoughts clearly. Gia is still by my side, as she’s always been, and I’m certain the old gal will outlive me by quite a while.

Or, rather, by at least eight years. I’ve finally figured out where she was all those years between when we met in Venice and when she first showed up in my linear life at 19, with a non-linear age of 27. She’d been alone, enjoying her “widow” years with the youthful vigor of a young woman, which she was, in her head, anyway. Even better, as I lay here, dying, it gives me pleasure to know her waning mental years will be spent bouncing between the linear ages of 7 and 19, the only years she cannot account for from her direct memory. Ah, it must be the dream of many to live a long, wonderful life, and then die while young. Of course, that presumes she doesn’t live into her 100s.

I will always remember how we met, and finally …

 

… but here I am back in Venice. I can feel a youthful vigor this body hasn’t felt in years. Gia is with me, giving me odd looks. Perhaps this is another period she has yet to account for. But no, I know that look – it is concern, for me. And the light is wrong here. It is sunny, but all I see is shadows. The light is waning and I am having difficulty … concen … concentrating.

“Will! Don’t you leave me! Don’t you dare. I-I’m not ready.” Gia is crying now. Surely, we are connected as we’ve always been. Perhaps she can feel the life force fading from within me.

I try to give her a weak smile, and look at her young self once more – the self-same visage I saw when first we met. After a twisting, jumbled, leap-frog life, it is fitting that I leave this earthly plane on the day of my first jump, when I met my wife.

“Stop it, Willie.” She cries and touches my cheek. She is shaking me now, screaming at me to fight against “the light.” I haven’t the heart to tell her I’ve seen no light. But the music … ah, it is glorious.

“I love you,” I manage to croak out.

She is shaking her head and weeping. I am lifted, airborne, scattering like particle dust in the cosmic wind. Beneath the universe’s music, I hear a faint shouting. It is Gia’s perfect, sweet goodbye:

“Are you even listening to me, you asshole?”

Tomorrow Was Yesterday, Part 4

If you haven’t read part 1, part 2, or Part 3, please do so.

(The soundtrack of my mind.)

Now, I can see the little linear-logic wheels turning in your head. If I met Gia when I was 27, which in non-linear time was after I met her in Venice at age 45, and after I was 21 in linear time, then why didn’t I remember her? Simply put, by then, I’d forgotten what she looked like. Sounds horrible, considering we’d been intimate, but that is only if you continue to think in a linear manner. There was a period of my life between age 21, to when I returned from this second jump, until 29, when Gia and I returned to her apartment to make love for the first time, that my life returned to its plodding, linear ways. By the time I met Gia for the 2nd first time, I’d convinced myself our initial jumps had been a bad series of dreams. I even managed to forget her completely.

Jumping through time does not preserve a pure linear logic. In other words, in my mind, I went from age 21 to 45 to 29, and then back to my 21st birthday party wherein I remained until I was 29. Sounds pretty neat, right? Well it is, from the comfort of this retrospective. My understanding of the timeline was built on myriad hand-scribbled notes which I began at Gia’s suggestion and kept diligently all my life. After decades, I’ve been able to pen a fairly close retrospective. As the events happened, however, memories were much more fragmented. By the time I met 19-year-old Gia, for instance, she produced only a vague sense of déjà vu, and a profound sense of being drawn to her.

She, on the other hand, seemed to have a much more complete sense of the non-linear timeline. While she attributed it to a complex explanation of “the intuitive nature of non-linear travelers,” I summarize it by saying her brain was much better suited for making sense of the disjointed way we lived our lives. In addition to which, Gia had started jumping at a very young age, from at least age 7. I, on the other hand, didn’t start jumping until I was an adult. She never said so, but it became clear that my not believing in such things had been the delimiter all along. Even when I started jumping, it took years to get my head around it.

Gia not only remembered every detail of our prior adventure, but she had an eight-year series of solo jumps the details of which she refused to reveal. So to her, she was a 19-year-old intern who had lived 27 years in linear and non-linear time, and was meeting an older man who was exactly her age. Starting to get the non-linear logic now?

She introduced herself to me that day knowing we would be married, or had been married, and precisely how long it would take her to convince me to go out with her – two summers of internships. This second date was the very first time I had dropped my guard and given in to the inexorable attraction that drew me to her. Little had I known it was the fact that we had already made love, long before we returned to her place to make love.

It was a damn shame time didn’t allow me to relive that night twice.

As we lay in each other’s arms that August night of our first lovemaking, we spent a long time arguing about how non-linear time worked, until I finally stopped arguing and let her teach me. (Rather, teach me again, according to her.) We could remember our relationship, the one we’d built during the fifteen minutes of non-linear Venetian time, and the linear memories from her time as an intern, but none of the other memories we had previously accessed. For example, neither of us at the time remembered our honeymoon, since it hadn’t happened to us yet, but we did remember part of our fifteenth anniversary trip to Venice.

Make sense? If you said yes, you’re nuttier than I am, which is considerably, after all these years. But that’s good, because it gets weirder.

No sooner had we finished our discussion and fallen asleep, than I “awoke” in the midst of a 21-year-old’s birthday party at the seediest strip club you can imagine. For a moment, I considered looking Gia up, but realized she would be no more than 13. By the time I downed my fourth drink, I had convinced myself I’d imagined the whole thing. Thus began my six-year-long wild-man period wherein I astonished my friends by going from the shy geek to the playboy via my sudden burst of confidence. Had any of us realized I’d actually lost my virginity in the future to my future wife … well, never mind, the logic of that makes my head hurt.

Tomorrow Was Yesterday, part 3

If you haven’t read part 1 and part 2, I recommend doing so now. Reading them out of sequence will pretty much spoil the story. In addition to which, I think this is my 2nd best short story ever. Gracias por leerlo.

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I forgot the honeymoon memories during the second jump, which ensued seconds after I turned to follow Gia to the canals. As my mind was reeling from meeting my wife, finding I could take time-traveling leaps, and trying to make sense of it all, I jumped again, this time sixteen years earlier, to our second date. One second I was reaching for the comfortable softness of Gia’s hand, and the next second found me in a darkened bedroom pounding away at my lovely companion from behind.

Yeah, awkward.

It was also explosive, vocal, strange, and exciting. Imagine meeting a woman, finding out you are married, deciding you like her, and two seconds later you are both rutting like screaming animals. As I said, awkward, in the way that having your wildest sexual fantasy come true in front of your great aunt would be awkward – meaning afterward. The actual sex was amazing, ending in a feminine explosion of F-words and Ohmigods in rapid, alternating succession that only added fuel to my fire.

When peace finally returned to the bedroom, Gia was lying on her back, placidly staring up at the ceiling. “That was nice,” she said. This was how I discovered my wife was a master of understatement.

I didn’t answer right away as I couldn’t catch my breath. I nodded instead and lay back on the bed. She arched her back, stretched, and lay her long legs across me. “You don’t seem very uncomfortable being naked around me,” I said.

She raised up just enough to look me in the eye. “Why would I be uncomfortable?”

“Well, we sorta just met.”

“We’re married.”

“I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened yet.

She shrugged. “Did happen, will happen, is happening. Don’t get lost in the linguistics. Time bends. Bend with it.”

That didn’t seem completely logical to me, but I didn’t have a better answer, so I let it go.  The strangeness of the conversation was exacerbated by a) the fact that all I could see of her in the dark bedroom were the dirty soles of her feet and b) the fact that whereas I was a confused wreck she was acting as if jumping through time happened to everyone. And yes, if you’re wondering, I do feel more comfortable when I’m making lists.

“Do you want kids?” she asked. “I think we should talk about kids.”

“Don’t you think we should date first?”

“Pretty sure fucking counts as a date. Anyway, we were already married when we met.”

“Not sure that’s a reason to jump straight into having kids. I mean, shouldn’t you at least tell me your last name or something?”

She sat up, flipped around, and lay back down in my arms. “You already know my name.” Gia leaned in close as if seeing my face for the first time. “Did you know you’re black?”

Five seconds of silence followed. “Yeah, I knew that,” I finally said. “Didn’t you?” I resisted the urge to check my arm to make sure I actually was.

A cheeky smile took her face. “Yeah, I was just wondering if you remembered. You seem pretty confused.”

“So not funny.”

Her thirty seconds of laughter disagreed. Just when I began to get mad, she kissed me on the cheek. “Relax. We met two years ago. You even know my mom.”

As if her words triggered some switch in my brain, two years’ worth of memories came flooding in, all at once. I remembered meeting her at work. I was a 27-year-old software engineer working in the dreadfully exciting world of cloud computing, and Giovanna Alicia Moreno was a 19-year-old intern working for the summer in the marketing department. Our first (in linear time) meeting was memorable. Gia walked up to me, dressed like a miniature banker, shook my hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Gia. You’re gonna marry me some day.” Then she walked away. I spent the rest of the summer avoiding her, partly because a) I thought she was crazy and b) I was very attracted to her, and c) getting fired for being romantically entangled with a college intern was not part of my career goals. In addition to which d) I’d already been through a succession of meaningless romances and had begun to settle down and focus on my career.