Bad Earl

Earl wasn’t always bad. He started out as an average pet store rabbit; cute, fluffy and oblivious to the stew pot intentions of his purchaser. Growing up on a farm left me with a soft spot for stew bound rabbits. Learning that we just ate my missing “pet” rabbit, was more horrifying than all the plucked birds and game carcasses put together. When the “intervention” ¬†by one of my children and friends delivered Earl to my doorstep – I had no choice but to let him in.

Not told of the planned rabbit caper; Earl arrived one evening, accompanied by teenage exuberance. Rescued from the Aunt of one of these kids – a woman who planned to fatten him up for a special dinner – I agreed to give him sanctuary. As he was snatched from his cage in the course of a daring rescue – Earl arrived cage-less and quivering in a towel. I had no cage, we had a dog, so the only place I could think of to put Earl was a room in my basement.

The situation was supposed to be temporary. I found a card board box, cut it down and shredded newspaper for a bed. Being decades since having contact with rabbits, and then under very different circumstances – I had no idea Earl would use this as his litter box and start construction of his “domain” amongst our stored belongings.

Days turned to weeks, weeks became months Рassurances that this person or that would be taking Earl or had a cage Рcoupled with my busy life Рleft Earl free to build his solitary basement kingdom. He was well fed,  litter box cleaned regularly , his realm taking on mythic proportions in the room beneath the basement stairs. Our house is old, his room a place where camping equipment and old toys collected dust along side roller blades and bicycles.

Within the first year, Earl managed to construct elaborate tunnels and passages – our junk became his brier patch. Any time we needed or moved something he went to work, shoring up defences or creating new exits and chambers. For the next few years he became faster, wiser and more elusive – taking such control over that room, we dared not move a single box. Sometimes if I sat quietly at the bottom of the stairs he would sit in my lap while I stroked his fur. Earl ruled the basement for more than five years.

One afternoon, skirting the edge of his kingdom on my way to the laundry room – he snapped. In hind sight it was like something from a Monty Python skit. I dropped the clothes, howling and kicking as Earl hung mid calf; his teeth firmly embedded in my leg – no intention of letting go. Bad Earl was born.

I can’t blame Earl; no rabbit should be allowed to reach mythical proportions in a basement. We made a decision to deliver Earl from this madness. Jericho Beach, a place over run with rabbits year round was his next stop. We like to think he became King of the rabbits – without question he developed some mad skills in our basement. In all honesty, I’m haunted by Earl’s fate more than the day I ate my childhood “pet”.

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