As I was walking the levee trail, I met a rabbit who offered me a cigarette.
The rabbit wore a necktie and a suit jacket with shoulder pads. He had grayish white fur—in fact his entire body, his clothes, his cigarette case, even the sky behind him-were a matte gray like a black and white movie, and when he offered me the cigarette he put two in his mouth, ready to light them both so he could pass one to me, the way Paul Henreid passed cigarettes to Bette Davis in Now, Voyager.
He wasn’t bad looking, this rabbit, though he had an overbite the way rabbits often do. He had a hard time looking suave with two cigarettes poised between his furry lips and his teeth.
“I don’t smoke,” I said curtly. I was tempted to add that I find smoking so distasteful, so off-putting, that in my eyes, smokers are most unattractive, but I saw no need for overkill. “So no,” I said politely. “No thank you.”
He flipped the cigarettes away from his mouth extending them toward me in a contrite manner. “They’re only bubble gum,” he said, as the sun bounced off the pads of his paw, and the illusion dissolved into a stick of sugary pink candy.
I saw now the rabbit was only a rabbit, somebody’s albino pet, unequipped to hazard life alone outside. He was only trying to bluff his way beyond his own glaring vulnerability, trying to put on a brave face.
As we are all doing, in these times.
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi