BY CELYNNE HINZMANN
Celynne Hinzmann writes literary fiction short stories, essays and novellas. Copyright is held by the author.
LISA’S FEET are so cold they’ve gone numb, which has at least stopped the pins and needles from stabbing her, and almost keeps her from noticing how cold the rest of her is too. Lisa’s been following Dad and the dog, which is too stupid to notice the cold, through this arctic forest for hours! Well, at least one anyway. Apparently rabbits are too smart to be out in the cold. Which is good, Dad assures her, they aren’t looking for the ones that are out, they’re looking for the rabbits that are in. Got a little visitor for them, Dad says. The visitor doesn’t stink so bad in the cold, that’s at least one good thing about being out here in this frozen wilderness, ’cuz goodness knows that ferret stinks to high heaven the rest of the time.
Mom says if the smell gets any worse the cage is coming outta the back porch and going back into the garden shed, worst deep freeze winter in 20 years or not. If Mom thinks the smell’s bad in the rest of the house, she should try it from Lisa’s room, right next to the back porch. But the overpowering funky stench isn’t even the worst of it. Lisa can hear that creepy critter out there all night long, chewing with its huge fangs on the wood of its cage. She knows it’s only a matter of time before it works its way right through the wall that separates them and she wakes up in the middle of the night with those evil little beady eyes staring at her from the foot of her bed while it gnaws on her toes.
Only Dad never seems to mind the smell, he actually likes that stinky little varmint; he’s named it “Snoopy” and thinks it’s cute and funny. Then again, Dad like rabbit stew, too. He’s so weird. Wonder how bad it smells inside Dad’s jacket right now, where he carries the horrible little rat around so it can keep warm. Looks like a pile of snakes squirming in there as it runs free range over Dad’s arms and tummy, poking its head outta the zipper opening every now and again, making Dad look like he’s got a neck tumour with fur and buck teeth.
Finally the stupid dog picks up a scent, and leads them to some tracks. They follow the tracks for what seems like forever, and then find a little hole, cleverly hidden in the snow. Dad scouts around for another agonisingly long time until he finds the other one, about 30 feet away. They always leave an escape, he explained to Lisa last night at supper when he was telling her all about the “big adventure” he was taking her on today. Just as Dad planned, he stations Lisa at the escape hole, with the rough burlap sack held in her popsicle fingers, and the stupid dog for backup. Dad runs back to the first hole where he fishes around in his jacket until he finally catches the squirmy, writhing rodent, and sets him at the edge of the hole. Snoopy twitches his ugly nose a few times, circles the hole once, then disappears in a puff of powdery snow.
For a minute Lisa’s not sure anything is gonna happen — but then it starts! She can feel as much as hear the commotion heading her way. The ground rumbles and shakes, the dog tenses, Lisa holds the bag tight as she can to the ground, and just as the ruckus is about to reach her…. she lifts the bag up, just a little. Off like a shot, into the forest they go! Two brown bunnies, one smelly ferret, one barking dog and one shouting Dad. Who knew he could run that fast? He’s almost 30 for heaven’s sake.
Wonder if a rabbit can out run a dog? She hopes so. Wonder if Dad can out run a ferret? She hopes not, ’cuz then she’ll have to come up with a whole new plan to get rid of that smelly nightmare. Dad’s not likely to risk taking her on any more “big adventures” any time soon. Oh well. She wipes the snot-sicle off the end of her nose with the back of her frozen mitten. Might as well start following the tracks in the snow back towards home. Mom’ll make her some hot chocolate and help iron out a story about the bag slipping out of her cold fingers before Dad gets home. She doesn’t like rabbit stew either.