Excerpt of The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp
(Page 4 of 8)
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Andre does not grasp the finer points of math, but he
got my gist and sprawled out on the floor, waiting
patiently for his number to be called.
I propped the envelope against the cereal box. On
the front was my name in Joanie's girly-girl handwriting.
Plus the number six. Only she didn't write the number.
There were just hash marks. Like an inmate counting
I sat there staring at the envelope and spooning up
my Cheerios. Andre remained a polite two feet away,
both eyes riveted on the spoon. "Explain something to
me," I said to him. "How come the Cheerios commercials
always show happy Moms with perky breasts, Dads who
seem to be on the right career path, and teenage kids
with no substance abuse problems? What about real families
like us? A middle-aged widower and his Cheeriosloving dog?"
Andre shifted positions and started licking his dick.
"You keep doing that at the breakfast table," I told him, "and we'll never wind
up on television."
I always put in too much milk, so I grabbed another
fistful of cereal, to establish a better oats-to-milk ratio in
the bowl. I still wasn't ready to open the letter, so I read
the box and was delighted to find that Cheerios may
reduce my cholesterol if I make them part of my heart-healthy diet. I decided
not to order a Cheerios T-shirt for
only $4.99 and wondered why they had to print "Limit 4
T-shirts per household." Are there actually households
that need more than four? And if so, why would General
Mills deprive them?
I left an inch of milk and about two dozen floaters in
the bowl and set it down on the floor next to Andre. He
stopped gratifying himself sexually and immediately dove
into the heart-healthier choice.
I waited for him to finish so I could pick up the
bowl, otherwise Rosa, my cleaning lady, would find it
on the floor and have to go to church to ask God to forgive
me for feeding the dog out of my dead wife's good
Andre finished his Cheerios and went back to his
dick. I put the bowl in the sink, went back to the bedroom,
and plopped down on the big stuffed chair. I used Joanie's best cake knife to open the envelope. Dios mio;
pray for me, Rosa.
Are these letters driving you crazy? Tough
shit. I've never been dying before, and I'm trying
to figure this out as I go along. It serves you right
for marrying a firstborn, perfectionist, Gemini
Assuming you're following my orders and
reading these on schedule (if you don't I'll come
back and haunt you) it's been six months. Hopefully
Rosa is still coming, or by now there are 180
pair of dirty socks and underwear piled up on the
I wrote the first five letters when I was between
chemo sessions. Today I'm vomiting between paragraphs,
so bear with me.
I'm sad for you. The hardest part of this whole
ordeal is not that I'm dying (although believe me
that sucks big time). It's trying to imagine you without
How can I not be there every morning when
you roll over all shaggy, scruffy, and if I'm lucky,
horny. How can I not be there on Sunday nights at
Gino's to split a sausage and pineapple pizza and
a bottle of dago red? How can I not be with you?
How can you behow can you existwithout me?
I don't know how many more letters I've got left
in me, but I'll write #7 tomorrow. Just to whet your
appetite, I promise to reveal the biggest secret I ever
kept from you. No cheating. You can't open it for
Michael, my sweet lover, I know these messages
from your dear departed wife must be like getting
greeting cards from the Surreal Section of the Hallmark
store. But I can't stop writing. I've accepted
the fact that I can't hold onto my own life. I just
can't let go of being part of yours.
I will love you for eternity. Give Big Jim and
Andre big wet kisses for me.
Copyright Marshall Karp 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduced by
permission of the publisher, Macadam Cage.