Day 47: The Famous Torn and Restored Lit Cigarette Trick by Elizabeth Gilbert
Sometimes with a story you want to start a generation back. Two generations. Three. Seventeen generations back, and start with the pig who slept on the lawn.
There’s not actually a pig in this story, but there is a bunny.
“If you do the tricks for the children, you should have a rabbit,” he told her.
Esther hugged him. She said, “I never had a rabbit.”
Hoffman lifted the rabbit from the cage. It was an unnaturally enormous rabbit.
“Is it pregnant?” Esther asked.
“No, she is not. She is only large.”
“That’s an extremely large rabbit for any magic trick,” Ace observed.
Esther said, “They haven’t invented the hat big enough to pull that rabbit out of.”
“She actually folds up to a small size,” Hoffman said. He held the rabbit between his hands like it was an accordion and squeezed it into a great white ball.
I don’t know why, but I laughed really hard at “She is only large.”
This story sprawls. It’s a skinny teenage boy who sits with his legs and arms spread so wide it takes up the entire couch. It starts with a Rose Water mogul and his widow who squanders her fortune on séances. It quickly moves to a old fashioned comedy club, then a brutal murder, and then the bunny. And then bunny-napping:
“Is Bonnie in your house, Mr. Wilson?”
“Is Bonnie the rabbit’s name?”
“How would Bonnie get in out house?”
“Perhaps you have some broken window in the basement?”
“You think she’s in our basement?”
“Have you looked for her in your basement?”
“Can I look for her?”
“You want to look for a rabbit in our basement?”
The two men stared at each other for some time. Ronald Wilson was wearing a baseball cap, and he took it off and rubbed the top of his head, which was balding. He put the baseball cap back on.
“Your rabbit is not in our house, Mr. Hoffman,” Wilson said.
“Okay,” Hoffman said. “Okay. Sure.”
Hoffman walked back home. He sat at the kitchen table and waited until Ace and Esther were both in the room to make his announcement.
“They took her,” he said. “The Wilsons took Bonnie.”
Hoffman’s crazy is funny and then sad, and when it does turn out that the bunny was in fact -napped by the Wilsons, I thought I’d be annoyed, by Gilbert sticks the ending.