Yesterday after a somewhat hectic morning and afternoon, due in no small part to my expedited server moves and the subsequent scramble to get them back online and available, I sat quietly at my desk staring at the wall. My mind had wandered to a place I can never intentionally visit. It’s a relaxing world free of concern and anxiety, but the path that leads there can only be followed without purpose and direction.
Kazon lay comfortably in my lap with eyes closed and a soft purr rumbling his frame as I gently stroked his fur. Even that movement required no thought from me, an automated process wholly managed in my hand without need for brain involvement. There we both sat in near silence.
And then I heard a most horrendous scream from outside. It came from my own patio.
I quickly put Kazon on the floor and went to the window, but I saw nothing and decided to go investigate.
I heard something scramble through the bushes as it scampered around the corner, and this the moment I opened the door. I couldn’t be certain what it was since I never saw it. But I knew it had been on the patio before I startled it.
Yet that had not been the only visitor. In fact, that had not been the source of the lamentable cry I had heard.
My attention immediately was drawn to something hobbling along the inside of the patio fence. It was small and grey, and it appeared to be wounded or fatigued, or both.
I assumed at first that it was a mouse. Its size fit with that idea, as did its color.
Only when I stepped closer and looked more carefully did I toss aside my first presumption. This was no mouse.
It was a baby rabbit, a young, cute, tiny little creature so frightened that it bounced against the fence several times as it tried to escape. I knew at once that it was hurt and so completely tired that it wouldn’t get far if I let it go about its business.
I could see a few small drops of blood near its shoulders, and that brought to my attention a few small stains of it on the concrete. There wasn’t much, but there was enough to know the bunny had been attacked. Certainly it was this baby’s cry I had heard, and most certainly it was the attacker that I scared away. My timing had likely saved this poor child.
Only then did I realize something else was on the veranda with us, something on the opposite side of the space, something small and not moving.
Before turning my attention to whatever might be sharing the moment with us, I cornered and scooped up the terrified rabbit. I couldn’t leave it there for I knew precisely what horror would befall it were it not protected.
The moment it was in my hands, it curled up tightly and rested itself against me.
Such a small body, this creature. In that position it barely covered my palm. Had I splayed my fingers and wrapped them around it, I could have enclosed its entire body with a single hand, essentially placing it in an inescapable jail made of human fingers. That’s how small it was.
Once it was safely tucked against my body and held securely, I turned and made my way to the other end of the patio to investigate what else might be there.
It was another baby rabbit. I suspect it was a sibling of the poor thing I held in my hands.
But it was already dead. A small pool of blood cradled its head, and what I suspected to be a pool of urine and bowel matter encircled its other end.
I waved my hand near its blank eye and saw no response. I used my shoe to touch it gently. If any life was left in it, I needed to know. Yet I already assumed the worst.
And I was right. Its body lay on its side, still and already cooling without the telltale rise and fall of its ribs, its eyes unblinking and already fading from vital black to dingy grey, and I knew it had met an ineluctable fate at the hands of a much larger predator. My first instinct was that it had been a cat of some kind, although I could not know for certain.
I fought back tears at the sight of it. While I would normally have allowed myself to lament such a sad affair, the still living bunny I held to my chest provided ample diversion. It needed help and protection, and it needed it right then.
So I walked away from the grisly scene on my patio and stepped inside.
Despite plenty of interest and attention from The Kids, all of whom had been drawn to the windows by the initial scream and who remained there watching me, I stepped carefully around them and made my way to the bathroom.
After placing the little ball of fur in the bathtub, which I knew to be too large for it to jump or climb out of, I headed back outside. I grabbed handfuls of fresh green grass. With plenty to provide bedding and even something to munch on—if the baby was old enough to eat it—I went back to the bathroom and set about fixing it up for the visitor.
With a nice variety of verdant grass piled and placed, I set the rabbit in the middle of it.
Its breathing was quick, yet it remained still even after I put it down on the pallet that still smelled of outside. My bathroom suddenly reminded me of a freshly cut lawn in summer.
I went to the kitchen and prepared two separate containers of water—a small saucer and a plastic bowl. I couldn’t be certain the rabbit would be able to drink from the bowl due to its height, so offering two sources made sense to me.
The water was placed near the drain of the tub at the edge of the grass pile.
Knowing the rabbit was terribly stressed and scared, I left the bathroom light on when I exited. I’d give it some time to calm down, some time alone to feel at least somewhat safer.
That’s when I went back outside and snapped some photos of the first victim. Some will assume I did so for morbid reasons, perhaps even a bizarre desire to revisit the image of that deadly encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. I took a few photos to document the scenario because (a) I felt it might be important with regards to the rabbit taking refuge in my bathtub, and (b) I am not afraid of the natural course of life and felt the photographs would certainly be used here to augment this tale.
With a handful of snapshots stored in the digital camera, I took it back inside, placed it on the desk, went to the kitchen, grabbed a grocery sack and some paper towels, then headed back to the patio. I intended to clean up as much of the crime scene as I could, and most especially I wanted to ensure the body was not left to scavengers. I realize that is what happens in nature, and I don’t find the thought of it at all problematic, yet my patio and my life had been impacted by this specific event and I wanted to play no part in allowing that small helpless child to be defiled considering I had saved its sibling.
I stepped out the patio door and froze.
Again I heard something scampering through the underbrush and around the corner. Whatever it was, it was hurrying.
And the body was gone.