|PAT THE BUNNY (from “No Ordinary Jew”)|
Harold’s stubby fingers loosened their grip on J’s arm momentarily. She broke free, running upstairs. His breath heaved while he rubbed his moist hands together as if washing them. He wanted to touch and fondle something. The basement whirled. Florescent light pinged off gray concrete. He pushed his way into the laundry room where the light hurt his bleary eyes less and dropped down onto all fours, crawling towards the workbench. Lust and booze jumbled in his mind. Desire or numbness. Got to have it, got to have it.
The cold of the floor penetrated his shabby overalls while he felt around underneath the bench for the bottle he’d stashed there, way in the back, against the wall. He used to have one hidden on every job but he hadn’t had many jobs lately. He was lucky to have this one. Somebody’s cousin knew his cousin Joe, owed Joe a favor. It was hard for him to find work in this town, in spite of it having more than a million people, because most everyone seemed to have heard that Harold wasn’t reliable. He drinks, they said. He tilted the bottle and chugged. The burn felt good as the solid gold slid on down.
Doc wants me to stop and I will, he thought, just not today. Won’t kill me as long as I stop, eventually. Next week, or maybe after the holidays.
When he wiped his mouth, the gray stubble on his chin startled him. Forgot shave, again. Can’t remember how many days. Harold took another swig from the bottle to clear his mind, wiped his hands on his thighs and rubbed his cock a little bit as he thought about newly budded breasts. His hands trembled and convinced it meant he needed more booze, he swallowed again. His wife, Norma’s scowling face appeared to him behind his closed eyes.
At home, Norma had been on him to do something about the dust. The cement factory left a white film over everything in the neighborhood. Whenever the door opened, the dust blew it in from the weedy field across the road. Norma covered the furniture with plastic, removing it when company arrived. Maybe it was the dust that turned me to drink, Harold thought. It washes the grit away. He thought about the girl, how her little bitty tits felt under her blouse, pushing out like she was wanting it. She might have let him have it. Don’t know until you get them warmed up. He took another swallow from the bottle.
This girl looked like Mary Beth’s girls, Norma’s sister’s kids. Got him all aroused thinking about it, how his hands would stroke the girls pink tender skin, one finger passing carelessly over the nipple of their breast, never lingering too long. Norma caught him playing Pat the Bunny with the girls, a simple game. They’d sit on Harold’s lap and stroke the bunny while it wiggled. They liked it, always complied, and did it just right. The way he asked. Squeezed when he said. Harold scowled as he pictured it, his breath quickening again. He rubbed faster. Oh, they liked it, they did. Oh yes. He doubled over with a groan, waiting a moment or two until his breathing slowed. Air hissed out between his missing teeth. He grabbed a dirty towel from the laundry room floor to wipe up with. Norma don’t know crap about men, he thought. A man does what he has to do and the younger a girl learns it, the better off she is.
Norma laid down the law after Pat the Bunny. “Don’t want you around them girls no more. Ever. Don’t care what excuse you use. Tell them Uncle Harold has work to do. Uncle Harold just remembered he has to go to the store for Auntie Norma. Stuff like that, Y’hear me, Harold.” She stared at him, threatening retribution. The law or her sister? She didn’t say. He wasn’t sure which was worse. Probably safer behind bars than torn apart by a she-devil.
“Yes, m’am,” Harold replied. “You’re the boss.” He knew that Norma couldn’t keep it all away from him. This girl was asking for it, he thought, with her hot pink blouse and skintight black pants. She was waving a cape at him. And looking oh-so- much like those pretty little nieces.
He thinks he has it under control unless a girl wanted it, unless the girl was a tramp like this one. That‘s his justification. He wasn’t sure why she ran. Got scared maybe. He gave himself a final squeeze thinking how firm her little breasts felt, and then shoved it out of his mind. He had to get back to work on the shelves and bookcases, show these people what fine craftwork he could do, how good he was -a first-rate carpenter- hoping these Hebs, these Jews, would get him more jobs. Maybe no one in their community had heard the whispers about him.