The Rabbit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story somewhat like Kafka's absurdist stories

Submitted: April 06, 2017

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Submitted: April 03, 2017



Cecil Throckmorton was a rather large fluffy white rabbit, and as such, he was the only one of his sort to be employed by the J. Emmitt Pettibone and Son accounting firm. J. Emmitt and son considered themselves to be forward thinking individuals and were quite proud of the fact that they were the first and so far only accounting firm in the city to engage a rabbit. There was no dispute that in the employment of rodents, they were ahead of their time. So far ahead in fact, that no sensible person could manage to see a future where rabbits, and their various cousins, held many, if any, white collar jobs.

Now it just so happened that J. Emmitt Pettibone et al had in their employ one Morris Moffat. And it also happened that Morris Moffat occupied the office next door to Cecil Throckmorton’s. It was a decidedly smaller affair than that of Throckmorton’s and the consequences were that poor Morris was tied up in knots over the whole thing. He found that while he worked in a musty cramped little closet, his neighbor lounged luxuriously in palatial comfort. Morris told himself that he-Throckmorton-being a rabbit was of absolutely no significance to him-Moffat. He had not a single biased or bigoted or whatever it may be bone in his body. He liked rabbits just fine, he just didn’t see why one needed such a big office. Especially a corner office with two windows.

And so it was on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, that someone overhead those exact sentiments being expounded upon by poor Morris Moffat, while he was pouring himself a cup of coffee in the employee break room. And so it was that J. Emmitt Pettibone’s progeny J. Emmitt Pettibone Jr.’s secretary, Ethel Smoot, had been the owner of the ears that overheard those lamentations. Ethel Smoot always said, “Let it never be said that Ethel Smoot would repeat a word of gossip.” It was, of course, always said because she, of course, always repeated it. More so than simply repeat what she heard, she was known to take a very liberal literary license with the information. Ethel fancied an outright fabrication to be less insidious than a bit of gossip. After all, if it wasn’t true, who could it possibly hurt?

Ethel Smoot had listened intently while Morris vented and stirred his coffee. She even went as far as to pat him on the hand and say, “There, there.”  After Morris skulked back to his desk to sulk, since sulking and skulking went hand in hand, Ethel Smoot went straight away to Rowena Applebaum to relay all that she had gleaned from her commiserating with dejected and demoralized Morris Moffat. Mrs. Smoot had not heard all of what had been said but she felt that she had got the gist of it. She had been distracted by the loud crowing and general racket coming from the private office of J. Emmitt Pettibone the elder. It was later disclosed that he had been interviewing a rooster for a position in the firm but had changed his mind saying that, “A rabbit was one thing but a rooster was something else entirely. They might talk a good game but they have absolutely no head for figures.”

And so it was that Miss Rowena Applebaum had come into her knowledge of the situation first hand, having naturally been told by a third party.  She wasted little time in telling the water cooler gang about how poor Morris Moffat had had it up to there and was about to throw one Cecil Throckmorton out on his considerable ear. Junior Nonce, a mildly retarded young man that worked in the mail room, took that juicy tidbit directly to Cecil Throckmorton, assured in his feeble mind that he would be congratulated on his expediency in the matter and slapped on the back and lauded with quite a few “Atta boys”. Cecil Throckmorton had never slapped anyone on the back for any reason that anyone could remember and was not about to now. Instead he did what he normally did when confronted with such sentiments, he looked calmly on and wriggled his little pink nose, and said nothing.

His spirit dashed upon the jutting rocks of apparent indifference, Junior Nonce skulked and sulked back to the mail room, where his route happened to pass nearby Morris Moffat who, although no longer skulking himself, was still quite visibly sulking and looking forlorn as he stood at the copy machine not making copies. Taking a page from the Smoot-Applebaum Treatise on Inter-Office Politics, he turned to Moffat and said, “The rabbit hates you.”

“He does? How do you know? Did he say that?” Moffat in his excitement had inadvertently hit the start button and was now making copies, strictly against his plan of quiet rebellion. Nonce just stood and stared with an imbecilic expression, that is to say his normal one, on his face. He hadn’t expected to answer any questions since no one ever asked him any.

“I have to pee,” was the best he could come up with on such a short notice. With that, he scurried off to the men’s room, leaving his mail cart behind. He didn’t actually have to relieve himself, but having said so, he felt obliged to at least give it a go. Much to his chagrin, Morris Moffat followed him into the restroom, still pleading with him to divulge the source of this tragic news. Junior Nonce positioned himself in front of a urinal and attempted to use sheer will and the power of positive thinking to get himself to urinate. The combination of anxiety and physical exertion produced nothing but a=n astounding display of flatulence. Fearing that the young mail clerk may detonate at any moment, Morris quickly retreated back to his office to ponder the disquieting news of Cecil Throckmorton’s ill will.

Safely back in his humble quarters, Morris Moffat began to brood. He shuffled some files around on his enormous desk in hopes that he could get his mind off the rabbit next door and back onto some work. His Brobdingnagian desk had always been a source of great pride with him and helped to offset the great shame he felt in having a micro-office. Many people over the years had marveled at the size of his desk and often wondered how it could ever have gotten into such a tiny office. There was barely enough room to squirm between it and the walls on either side.  

It was about that time that J. Emmitt the younger came into his office laughing. He nodded to Morris and then over his shoulder he said, “Oh Cecil, you rascal you.”

Morris made a noise in his throat that he hoped would show a little contempt for such office frivolity, at least where the rabbit was concerned, but not too much as to be off putting to his superior. Morris Moffat had always considered himself to be a serious and no-nonsense sort of employee, unlike Cecil Throckmorton, who was apparently, a rascal.

“May I help you, Mr. Pettibone?” he asked, looking up from his stacks of papers, hoping to give the impression that he was too busy at the company’s business to engage in such trivialities.

“Hmm? What’s that you say?” asked Pettibone, still chuckling to himself.

“May I be of some service?” Morris really was annoyed now, but tried to keep most of it from spilling out.

“Oh, yes, yes, of course. Here, Moffat, I need you to take some of load off of old Cecil,” he said, depositing a large stack of papers onto a recently cleared off spot on his desk.

“B-but sir,” he sputtered in disbelief. “I’m already swamped.”

“Oh, come now, Moffat. There was a perfectly bare spot on your desk there.”

“But I just cleared it off.”

“Of course you did. That’s how it works, right? You clear it off, I put it on. I put it on, you clear it off. It’s our function, right? Really, we’re just cogs in the machine, you and me.”

“But my desk is bigger than everyone else’s.”

“Yes, it’s a magnificent desk, but let’s not be a braggart there Moffat. The next thing you know, everyone will be clamoring for a bigger desk so they can have more paperwork and where will it end? Those petty office politics are just so tedious.”

“But why can’t the rab…why can’t Throckmorton do his own work?” Morris was conscious of the fact that he was now whining, but he didn’t care.

“Cecil? No time, no time. He’s out of the office for the next few days.” J. Emmitt began to measure the desk with his eyes and wonder about the whole how-did-it-get-in-here problem.

“Out? Is he sick?” he asked, sounding a little too hopeful.

“Not at all. Fit as a fiddle, I should say. A good thing, too. He’ll be entertaining some prospective clients.” He now held his hands up to measure the desk and turn to the door as if he would suddenly realize how they had managed the feat.

This was all too much for Morris. Entertaining clients? Absurd. Preposterous. He had never been asked to entertain any clients. And he was a hardworking, steadfast, and loyal employee, not some rascal. A rascally rabbit, he thought to himself and let loose a little giggle. He clamped his hand to his mouth to stifle it. This was not an amusing incident.

“What was that, Morris? Nothing? Very well, I have to pop off just now, so be a good fellow and take care of that file by the end of the week.” And with that, he left.

The rabbit was responsible for this. The rabbit had it out for him. That numbskull Nonce had said so. He hated him. He wanted him gone. Out of the way. Well, two could play that game, he thought. If anyone was going to be let go, it was going to be that…that…rodent.

Well, that was all he was going to take and not one iota more. He gathered himself up and climbed over his desk, knocking files and papers hither and thither or hither and yon, whichever way they happened to fall. He fell to the floor in a heap with a thump but quickly picked himself up, and once again, gathered himself up until he was convinced that he was all the gathered up he could possibly get, and he stormed out of his office. Still storming, he travelled the three or four steps to the door of Cecil Throckmorton, and stormed in without knocking. He had been in full view of no less than one third of the personages employed by J. Emmitt Pettibone and Son, and they all stared agog. After he slammed Throckmorton’s door, the agogment or agogedness, if you will, changed to keen interest, and they all rushed forward to press an ear or two to the wall of said office.

“Now see here, you,” started Morris Moffat. “I don’t know what you’re playing at, but two can play at it just as well.” Cecil Throckmorton said nothing. He just wriggled his little pink nose in the most distracting way, and Morris felt obliged to tell him so. “Quit distracting me with all that confounded nose-wriggling.” But Throckmorton just continued his wriggling.

“If I had a little pink nose I might just wriggle it at you in that very same manner, and you would see for yourself just how distracting it is.”

Cecil Throckmorton scratched one long white ear and continued in his silence.

“Do you deny that you are trying to have me fired?”

Cecil Throckmorton wriggled his nose some more.

“Well then, do you deny that you dislike me?”

Cecil Throckmorton raised his little white head and peered at Morris with one red eye.

“Whatever in the world have I done to you to warrant such an antagonistic attitude?”

Cecil Throckmorton scratched his other long white ear.

“Oh the office thing?” Morris was a little unsure of his rage and took a step back from the other’s desk. “Well, you must admit, it is a very big office and well, you are a rather small…”

Cecil Throckmorton peered at him with the other red eye.

Morris Moffat tugged at his collar which had suddenly become very tight around his neck. “Not that there is anything wrong with your being… I mean to say that it doesn’t matter to me that you’re a…”

Cecil Throckmorton now raised up a bit and peered with both red eyes.

“I mean, my office is just so small… And you know very well that my desk is just so big…” Morris found it hard to concentrate with his tie getting tighter by the minute. He couldn’t remember for the life of him what it was that he had meant to say when he had burst through the door a moment ago.

Cecil Throckmorton began to nibble a small bit of carrot that lay on his desk.

“Well then, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just go back to my office now. We’ll just forget all about this silly misunderstanding. That’s all it really is, you know. Whatever would I do with such a great big office and with two windows to boot? Why, I might have sunstroke.” Morris was foundering now. He could feel his face flushing and wanted to be back behind that monstrous desk, in that tiny, dark hole with all those great big stacks of files and papers to process.

“All right, then. I’ll be shoving off. Good luck with those clients, Throckmorton, old boy.”

And with that a nod of his head, Morris Moffat crept back to his own office. He didn’t pay any attention to his coworkers rushing about the place and posing in anything but nonchalant poses. He climbed over his gargantuan desk and into his well-worn chair. He patted the desk. It was comforting, even if ridiculously large. No one else had a desk that big. Not even Cecil Throckmorton. He was, after all, just a cog. They were all just cogs. Except maybe Cecil Throckmorton. One day that rabbit would make partner. Morris Moffat was sure of it.

© Copyright 2018 Terrence Lee. All rights reserved.

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