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 loved him.
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 thousand bucks.
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.
Copyright Marshall Karp 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Macadam Cage.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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