Excerpt of The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp
(Page 5 of 8)
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I closed my eyes and let it soak in. Then I read the
letter again. I was about to read it for the third time when
the annoying little voice that lives rent-free inside my
head told me to put the fucking letter away now.
I try not to argue with the voice. I extricated myself
from the sagging green chair as gracefully as one can
extricate 180 pounds from anything.
I walked over to Joanie's dressing table, and picked
up the double-sided silver picture frame she gave me for
our first anniversary. On the left side of the frame was our
wedding picture with her handwritten inscription below.
"To my darling Mike, We've only just begun. Love, Joanie"
On the opposite side was the identical picture, but
through the miracle of Photoshop, Joanie had digitally
aged us fifty years. My hair was silver and thinning, but at
least she gave me hair. I was thirty pounds heavier, and
my face was lined with crags and crevices.
Joanie was even harder on herself, thickening out her
middle, bluing her beautiful strawberry blonde hair, and
adding liberal amounts of wrinkles and liver spots to her
glowing skin. But she didn't change her eyes. There were
crow's feet on the outside, but inside they were still the
color I told her was Cavu Blue. My father flies a Piper
Warrior on the weekends, and CAVU is pilot talk for a sky
that has Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited.' To me nothing
"I resent the fact that you think I can't function without
Rosa cleaning up after me," I said to the left side of the frame. "For your
information, I was recently honored by Good Housekeeping as one of the only men
on the planet who has actually mastered the art of picking up his own dirty
socks and underwear. And you thought I couldn't live without you."
Andre paddled in. Andre, just for the record, is a sixyear-
old black Standard French Poodle. Not the kind of
dog you'd expect to be living with a cop. But this dog has
instincts like Sherlock Holmes and better communication
skills than a kennel full of movie Lassies.
He cocked his big curly head and gave me his most serious man-to-man look, which
I clearly understood to say, "Hey, Lomax, I heard you talking, and now I see
that it's just you and the picture of your dead wife. I'm starting to worry
about you, pal."
I half-put the frame back down on the dressing table,
then pulled it back to my lips, pressed my face to the
glass, and set it back down. Andre, realizing that this was
a private moment and that there was nothing edible in it
for him, toddled off back to the living room.
The phone rang. It was my partner, Terry Biggs.
"Hey, Mike, we got a live one." A live one' was Terry's
standard lame joke for a homicide victim.
"Ask me if the vic was a man or a woman," he said.
Terry is a wannabe stand-up comic, but he's never sure
he's going to get the straight line, so he helps you serve
it up to him. I was in no mood to resist.
"Okay, Terry, who bought it? A man or a woman?" "A rabbit," he answered, hoping to get a bigger reaction
from me than I was capable of giving. "Actually a
guy in a Rambo Rabbit suit. It happened out at Lamaar's
"Familyland?" I said. "Is no place sacred?"
"I guess the scumbags are branching out. More work
for you and me," Terry said. "I'll pick you up in fifteen."
I hung up. The letter was still in my other hand. There
was a wooden box on top of Joanie's dressing table. I had
found it gift wrapped at the bottom of my shirt drawer a
few days after the funeral.
A brass plaque on top was engraved Mike and Joan
till death us do part. That's where I found the letters. I put
Number Six back in the box. There were still three more
to be opened.
Copyright Marshall Karp 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduced by
permission of the publisher, Macadam Cage.