Swamp Rabbit and I were hungry, so we took a two-day job — strictly commission, unfortunately — peddling magical electricity in a suburban mall. There were flat-screen TVs and football fans all over the place. We caught some of the New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens playoff game as we worked. The rabbit had bet on the Patriots to win by seven points, but they only won by four, so he lost his bet and was in no mood to join the Patriots fans as they cheered.
But the fans quickly shut up and went back to gawking at the shiny toys in the mall. Tom Brady is a great QB, I told the rabbit, but who really cares about the Patriots where we live, in Philadelphia Eagles country? In fact, who cares about the Eagles? They’re done. Show me the next distraction, please.
“In the end, it’s all garbage,” I added.
Magical electricity sales were a bit slow, so I pulled from my backpack a dog-eared copy of Czech novelist Ivan Klima’s Love and Garbage and read to the rabbit a relevant passage about consumers:
They fill the streets, the squares, the stadiums and the department stores. When they burst into cheers over a winning goal, a successful pop song or a revolution, it seems as if that roar would go on forever, but it is followed at once by the deathly silence of emptiness and oblivion.
“Don’t give me no high-falutin’ lectures, I ain’t in the mood,” the rabbit replied. “I just lost fifty bucks on them freakin’ Patriots. Now I gotta stand here and watch these here consumers consume all them toys I can’t afford.”
I told him all is good, the toys won’t make the consumers any happier than he is, not for more than a few minutes. “What these people need, they can’t buy at the mall,” I said.
I added. “You’re just looking to fill the void inside you where your soul should be.”
“You got that right, Odd Man. Any liquor stores in this dump?”
We folded up our table and left the mall, still hungry. On the way back to the swamp I stole some wieners at the SuperFridge and a liter of Wild Turkey at Tinicum Beer & Spirits.
“Here you go, rabbit,” I said, handing him the bourbon when we were back at the shack. “But this poison won’t fill the void.”
He guzzled straight from the bottle and said, “Maybe not, but at least it’ll stop the shakes.”
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