Eddie Elkins ambled down Fantasy Avenue. A
light breeze penetrated his costume, and he felt
relatively cool inside the furry white rabbit suit.
Of course, these were the balmy days of April. July
and August would be unbearable, but for Eddie, it would
be a small price to pay.
Six weeks ago he had lied, cheated, and bribed his
way into the best job in the world. And now, he was
Rambo. Rambunctious Rabbit, the most famous character
Dean Lamaar ever created. The acknowledged superstar
at Lamaar's Familyland.
Eddie waved at the kids as he wandered through the
sprawling theme park. Occasionally some wiseass teenager
would give him the finger, but for the most part kids
And Eddie loved kids. In fact, he loved them so much
that he was mandated by Megan's Law to register with the
Los Angeles police, so they could notify people in his
community that he had moved into their neighborhood.
But he hadn't registered. Not this time. He had complied
with the law when he lived in Boston. But the Irish
bastard across the street keyed Eddie's car, slashed his tires,
and put dog shit in his mailbox. Eddie tried to explain that
there's a big difference between high-risk offenders who
are violent and regular guys like Eddie, who would never
hurt anyone, but the guy wouldn't listen.
Then one day Eddie made the mistake of saying hello
to the man's ten-year-old son. That night two bullets came
flying through his bedroom window.
Eddie moved to Rhode Island and registered with the
Woonsocket police. Life was better there. Nobody wanted
to kill him, but nobody wanted to hire him either. Not for
the kind of jobs Eddie wanted. He finally got work as a
clerk in a paintball supply store, where he had plenty of
time to think about his life.
He was born Edward Warren Ellison in Trenton, New
Jersey, majored in English Lit at Rutgers, was never any
good at sports and was never really comfortable with
women, although he had had sex with four of them. People
said he looked like Buddy Holly, or at least what
Buddy would have looked like at age thirty-six, if not for
that plane crash. Eddie even wore the black horn-rimmed
glasses to heighten the effect.
He tried real hard to break his pattern with the kids,
especially after the first conviction. He had a smart therapist,
but stopping wasn't as easy as the shrinks make it
sound. He didn't want to hurt the children, but fondling
wasn't hurting. After three months in Rhode Island, he
decided it would be easier to find a better job in a big
city. Especially if he didn't register.
He moved to Los Angeles. Getting a new name and
new identity cards were easier than he thought. Other
men like him had done it and there was the New Beginnings
Network on the Web. His closest confidant, whom
he e-mailed almost every day, was Vandy333.
Vandy was divorced with two kids of his own and had
been a school principal in Tennessee for twelve years.
"Changing my identity made all the difference," Vandy
had told him.
So Eddie Ellison became Eddie Elkins. He found a
nice clean place to live and set up his new persona just
the way New Beginnings instructed him. Finally came his
big break. They told him about Caleo.
Anthony Caleo was a scumbag, but he was a great guy
to know. He worked in Human Resources at Familyland.
His job was to verify the résumés of people applying for
jobs. Caleo didn't care about New Beginnings. He only
cared about what was in it for Caleo. He charged Eddie six
For that he cleared Eddie's bogus résumé and prepped
him on how to handle the one-on-one interview with
Marjorie MacBride. And that's how Eddie landed the job
of his dreams.
His first day at work he reported to the Wardrobe
Department. One of the Dressers, a chatty little Mexican
woman whose name tag said Provi, helped him into the
furry white Rambunctious Rabbit costume, with its distinctive
red, white, and blue denim overalls. Provi was
prattling on, but Elkins's mind and heart were racing too
loud and fast for him to hear.
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