Bunny in Bath (the city), a short story by KiwiDreamer. Date added: 2012-05-31. Times viewed: 715.
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- Intro: A bitter-sweet short story about a guy on a mission.
Bunny Watson (as a kid he had noticeably pointed ears and later surgically reworked), also known as Raymond Watson, looked in the doorway to a staircase leading upstairs between two shops in Hong Kong and saw a kid, probably no more than sixteen, nude and with her legs apart and showing no sign of hair.
Bunny thought sensibly no, she’d probably be tight and athletic and would kill him with her frenetic demands. He thought he really should go up to her, swat her ass and send her upstairs, telling her to do her school homework.
He signed and instead continued to search for suitable gifts for his ex-mother-in-law and her two other daughters. God what a fruitless mission this was, he thought, aware he was a boat builder who made things. He wasn’t programmed to shop.
Bunny hurried past a sex shop, at least that’s what he thought it was. It was called Accessories for Females. Probably if he handed out three vibrators that might really totally disintegrate his popularity in the Crowther household that thus end his association with the family. He probably should have shopped at the hotel but the prices shocked him and the shop assistants spoke as if they were royalty. In one shop the beautiful Chinese girl spoke to him in flawless English and asked what would he like to see?
“Dunno?” she asked as if she’d never heard of the word.
“Sir what category within our range of fine products would you care to examine and negotiate on?”
“Negotiate? I don’t negotiate,” Bunny said stoutly. “No under the table payments and other shoddy deals for me.”
The elegant woman appeared shocked and asked, “Where are you from sir?”
“I’m from New Zealand.”
“Ah from New Zealand, of course. Perhaps I should advise the place for you people is the Stanley Markets.”
“Nah I’m told that’s the place for peasants to shop.”
She looked confused.
“I want to buy something for my dead wife’s mother.”
The woman lost the little bit of colour she had on her cheeks and bowed and said, ‘Excuse me sir.”
Bunny waited ten minutes and when she didn’t appear he left the shop and thought, Hong Kong is a top place to shop? Assholes. People who say that must believe the bullshit travel writers churn out.”
He boarded the flight next day to the UK with the gifts, satisfied with purchases and a charming woman with an accent difficult to understand sitting beside him. He thought she said she came from Pussy but he hadn’t heard of a country by that name and thereafter he spent most of the trip sleeping, eating, smiling at the woman and listening to music.
At Heathrow a woman who actually spoke English escorted him to his Ford Mondeo and he was away, driving to Bath. He’d sailed skippering a crew of four around the world and so navigation was a breeze to get out of the airport and on the right road to Bath 82 miles away. The vehicle was fitted with GPS and that helped.
He called his mother-in-law and Janet answered and was surprised to hear he was driving himself to Bath.
His deceased wife’s oldest sister said, “Then we may not see you today because you’ll get lost. England is terribly big for you.”
“God it’s just a collection of villages, many of them joined up with fancy names like London and Liverpool and Great Yarmouth and Chipping Sodbury.”
“Where is that last one located?”
“Never mind you’re English. How the fuck the English managed to colonize half the world at one stage beats me.”
“Oh Bunny don’t use words like fuck within mom’s hearing. She’ll have a fit. She’s strict Anglican.”
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that. Where did she catch that affliction?”
“At church I suppose when she was a young girl.”
Bunny had no idea what she was talking about.
He checked the GPS.
“I’m thirteen minutes away from you.”
“You can’t be.”
“Is your dad home?”
“Yes he’s just in.”
“Tell him to have a cold one for me on the table.”
“You mean a beer?”
“Yes, what did you think I meant Janet?”
“I’ll keep it to myself. Things you say often horrify me.”
He drew up just along from the house and Janet came running up and they kissed and he massaged her right breast and her mouth opened and shut like a goldfish’s but she looked pleased.
“I knew you were more than thirteen minutes away from us. You said that sixteen minutes ago.”
“Yeah well slow buggers getting away at the traffic lights stymied me a couple of times.”
“Um may I carry Kate into the house?”
“Yes sure, she’s wrapped up with my underpants.”
Janet pushed up against Bunny as he unpacked the bag he said dryly, “Didn’t you marry after I last saw you?”
“Yes, the last time was at your wedding and you banged me the night before when I came home early from the Hen’s Night at the pub. God that was the best fuck I’ve ever had.”
“Yeah will you need to go out with more guys but don’t let Cedric catch you out.”
He handed Janet the ashes and said not to drop the container.
She almost dropped it and said, “Mom will be disappointed Kate is in a stainless steel tube. She’s been talking about a Grecian urn.”
“They break on long flights.”
“Go on, take her in to her family. I’ll wait here and give you guys some quiet time with her.”
“You are such a wonderful guy Bunny. It’s a pity about your name.”
She went and managed to disappear indoors without having dropped the tube.
Bunny entered the house fifteen minutes later to be greeted by Alf who clapped him on both shoulders quiet affectionately and said rather huskily, “Thanks for bringing her home mate.”
“Just say hello to that lot of chest beaters and wailers in there and come into the kitchen for a pint. No let’s go down to the Irish pub because that lot in there will never step into those premises.”
Janet rushed over to him and managed to get an open-mouthed kiss in with a slight bit of tonguing.
She stood, holding Bunny as if he were a National Treasure and said, “Mother you’ll remember your son-in-law Raymond Watson?”
“Indeed I do,” said Iris, who was dressed in black. “Thank you son for bringing her home. It was such as shame they both died during the birthing.”
“It was fucking awful,” he sniffed.
The family looked agog but Iris just patted him on the shoulder and she said, holding the tube in her other handed, “Let’s have a quick prayer.”
It was over in a flash, much to Bunny’s relief.
“You’ll remember my other son-in-law Cedric?”
“No I’ve never met him before.”
“Oh yes, you and Kate were circumnavigating Australian in a two-person yacht race when they had to get married because Janet thought she was pregnant. It turned out to be a benign tumour but Cedric thought he should do the honourable thing because it was obvious he and Janet had been engaged in illicit sex.”
“They should have got a medal for managing to keep it from you Iris. You pinged Kate on me only the third time we were at it.”
“But you both claimed that was the very first time?”
“Well Iris we knew you’d be a lot happier if we said that than giving you the accurate number of times.”
“And how many times had you been at it.”
“Fifteen sessions, according to Kate and many of those were multiple times.”
“Good heavens, that’s probably more than I’ve ever had and you’d only know Kate for three weeks.”
The daughters looked astonished while the two other guys looked impressed.
“We you know Iris, idle hand must be kept busy and so we did. Kate was a wonderful young woman and I did miss her dearly for a couple of weeks but I got over that and decided to bring her home.”
“For which we are very grateful Raymond.”
“Er Iris, couldn’t you bend a little and call me Bunny.”
“Thanks and who’s the pretty wench by your side Iris?”
“That’s my grown up Leah who was only eighteen the last time you saw her three years ago. Isn’t she beautiful?”
“Well she certainly had a great smile and great… um dee, doublity-dee, a great body.”
Leah glared at him and Bunny said, “And she may lack the edge of humour that makes great females ever so charming.
Leah showed bared teeth.
“Well Iris, Alf has invited me down to the Irish pub and asked me to tell everyone not to follow us. We’ll be back home by 7:00 for a lovely English dinner designed to made one fat and stupefied.”
“We’ll have pan-seared cod, carrots and potatoes and fresh-shelled baby peas because I knew you’d throw off at stodgy English food and for desert it will be pears simmered in honey water and served with double clotted cream.”
“Oh baby, you’re wonderful and so thoughtful,” Bunny said, and kissed Leah before she knew what was happening and with great strength lifted her till she touched the ceiling as he sang, “I can see your panties, we can see your panties.”
He put the young woman, who was close to tears down, and he said, “Get used to it baby because you’ll be returning to New Zealand with me but I’ll also pay for your return flight if you decide you can’t stand me.”
“Over my dead body I say. I want nothing to do with you. You killed my darling sister by making her pregnant. God you are so disgusting.”
“That’s enough,” Iris said.
“No let her be Iris. The girl is entitled to take a stand and Leah is entitled to have an opinion. I guess this will be more difficult that I thought because I do tend to be optimistic about things. Come on Cedric, you too come with us too.”
“I-I best stay with Janet.”
“Give her an hour off the leash Cedric. These women need to be alone.”
Leah snarled, “God how can you be so sensitive after your performance to date?”
“Bye Leah, want to kiss me goodbye.”
“Only if you promise not to return,” she practically spat.
“Go with them,” Janet said and kissed Cedric. “My family is upset and it’s a time for unity, not splitting into factions, but as Bunny so rightly said, we girls need to be alone with our sister at this time.”
“I’ll have to get my jacket,” Cedric said.
Bunny said, “Hell no Cedric, it’s summer and you won’t need to pay. The beers are on me and I’d like you to get the courage to call me Bunny.”
“Okay Bunny. Um are you looking for a punch up?”
“Christ no Cedric. I’m like this all the time and I don’t fight in fear I might kill.”
“Jesus,” said Cedric as they went into the passage and the women heard Bunny said, “Watch your mouth Cedric, you saying Jesus like that might upset Iris. She lets me get away with it because she accepts I’m uncouth.”
Iris stood with her daughters holding hands looking at the tube.
“It’s so lovely Kate is back home with us. I would have been heartbroken had she been buried in that far off land.”
“Well you did the right thing by asking for a cremation and for that awful man to being Kate home after taking her away from you and us.”
“Oh Leah I didn’t ask him darling. He decided that himself. He phoned me two weeks ago and said he wanted to bring Kate home.”
“Omigod,” Leah said, sniffing and appearing to be fighting back tears. “I can’t believe it. It’s impossible for that man to think like that.”
Iris said, “He’s just a type of man we’re not used to Leah and I’m telling you that man would have done anything for Kate and I believe her tragic death must have hit him hard. The ward manager at that hospital where Kate was dying wrote to me.”
Iris went to the sideboard where she kept papers and pulled a letter from the blue envelop and handed it to Leah.
“Read it to us darling. Janet didn’t know about this letter either.”
Leah began haltingly:
Dear Mrs Crowther. I feel compelled to write you about a wonderful act of love I have witnessed in this ward. It was between your dying daughter and her husband. As soon as he knew mother and child were in serious trouble he dropped everything and stayed at their side and was outside the theatre suite all the time the medical team were attempting everything to achieve a successful birth, but not to be. That was so sad for everyone here because your daughter Kate had such an infectious personality.
The three women were weeping.
Leah sniffed, and carried on.
Kate was taken to a special room and Mr Crowther followed and we had to bend almost every rule in the book to allow him to stay with her, always touching her face and holding her hand and then continued during the last hours when Kate slipped into a coma. She died and we had to attend to her and Mr Crowther refused to vacate the room saying we might not allow him to return. Well the next day when I arrived on duty he was still there, looking dreadful after three days and nights of practically no sleep. Sadly the medical registrar had to get authority to administer an injection to pacify Mr Crowther so we could release Kate’s body from him. We explained what we would be doing and he just said, “Well do it and I can’t stop you because you’ve doped me.
My god, it was so sad. I trust I’ve done the right thing in writing to tell you this: Rightly or wrongly I am proud to have done this on behalf of a remarkable couple and their baby who was not born alive.”
“Much love in your loss and grief, Cynthia Childs.
Mother and daughters stood, hugging as a group.
“Did you write in reply mum.”
“No but I phoned her. She sounded so pleased but we didn’t talk for long. After the thanks there was nothing more to say really.”
“Mum that former brother-in-law of mine can’t be real.”
“He’s very real dear, shall we say a tough guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and who becomes vulnerable at times. And I’m saying this, don’t be surprised if you join him in New Zealand.”
“Mum what are you saying?” Leah cried.
Janet said, “I reckon she thinks our beloved dying Kate made have told him to focus on you.”
“My? This is insane. Mum is that true?”
Iris said quietly, “I think enough has been said. Just remain calm and level-headed and don’t be swayed by emotion, either way.”
“I can’t believe this. You two want me to go with him.”
“Janet and I didn’t express any such desire. Do you desire to see Leah go?”
“No mum I don’t and only Leah can determine the outcome of this and fiery Leah knows that. You are only twenty-two Leah, still learning to think like an adult. It’s up to you to ask why would you want to leave England and do you even like our former brother-in-law even just a tad.”
“Well I can answer both questions right now,” Leah said angrily. I…”
“It’s an adult thing to be in possession of as much crucial information as possible before making a non-urgent decision,” her mother said calmly. “Why don’t you go and stay the weekend with Aunt Jess and Uncle Colin. It’s quiet where my sister lives and you’ll have quality thinking time.”
“No I can’t.”
“Why not, you’ve broken dates with your boyfriend of the moment before this?”
“Because Janet, I can’t leave Bunny with the impression I’ve run out on him. It’s discourteous especially when he’s brought our sister home to us.”
“Ah yes,” Janet sighed. “Here was me thinking this was pretty straight-forward, that for you it would be just a simply choice of yes or no. But here it is, getting more complicated by the moment.”
“Then what should I do?”
“Pray for guidance,” said her mother.
Janet suggested, “Talk to Bunny about the things he doesn’t mind telling you about what Kate said to him when she was dying.”
“Oh god,” Leah wailed.
“Come on girls, hold hands and let us pray, I’ll take the lead,” Iris said but Leah said no, that she was going to watch TV to relax.
“Yes a good idea,” Iris said. “I’ll join you. Remember you are on dinner.”
Leah had finished banging in the kitchen and Iris was resting and the house was quiet. Janet went into Leah’s bedroom and her sister was standing by the dresser, with the top left drawer open where she kept her valuables.
Leah jumped and swung the hand she’d been holding in front of her out of sight.
“What are you doing?”
“What are you holding behind your back?”
There was a brief tussle and the stronger, older sister one.
Janet looked at the passport and said, “You’ve decided to go haven’t you.”
“But why? Initially you were so vehemently opposed to the idea.
While I was preparing dinner several thought came flooding into my mind.
“He can’t be all that bad. Kate loved him dearly and she was no fool or noted for making wrong choices. He also had the decency to bring Kate home and then came the biggest thought of all… I know Kate would have wanted me to return home with him.”
The young women stood silently embracing and then heard the noising arrival of the men arriving back from the pub.
During dinner Leah looked up to find Bunny was looking at her. Her courage assembled and she said loudly above the chatter of her family, “Will I like it in New Zealand.”
“Yeah Leah, you’ll have a cracker of a life.”
There was silence.
“All you lot will be coming to New Zealand at my expense for the wedding,” Bunny smiled. “The timing of that will be up to Leah.”
There was bedlam.
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