man, killing a rabbit ain't easy. i went to furman's meadow to do some hunting with my gramps, mainly just for his company, and hopefully adulation. being a city boy, hunting has never been my bag. well, not entirely true - i sure do like to hunt down some shots of jack and bottles of bass over at cherry tavern in the east village. killing those is a breeze. but this furry little fucker hopped not twenty feet from me, and gramps and i caught his softness at the same time. gramps looked over at me and raised his left eyebrow. it was telling me to take action.
now listen, friends. i'm all about bonding with the old dude, he's my dads dad, so he's my bloodline. it's just that we're from different generations, places etc. i wanna please that cat, but when push came to shove and i was staring bugs in the eyes, killing that rabbit wasn't easy. i looked at bunny, and he looked at me, and the following ensued:
childhood rush of passion for my stuffed animals. i remembered rocky, my raccoon. his ears were softer than cotton candy, and his black-ringed eyes held the occupation of prison guard. prison being my room, but a cell i gladly enjoyed hiding away in. hiding from debbie, the step-monster, and her brutal right hook. i couldn't take one more blast from her italian temper, that blast that landed squarely on my arms, chest, or sometimes even my face. rocky wouldn't allow her into my room, there i was safe from abuse, safe from somebody two feet taller than me that liked to pick on somebody not their own size, someone that for some reason my dad wouldn't curb. rocky, my stuffed animal raccoon, protector of my innocence, king of my room. he was bigger than hate, taller than stupidity and the omniscient ruler of sweetness. this rocky, long lost from mind due to time, was now the center square in this rabbits' eyes. how could i shoot this memory, this safety zone from long ago? how could i take away this cloud of life, innocent, just bounding in the wrong place at the wrong time? i couldn't my friends, i couldn't. just as i lowered my killer instinct, the shot rang out from gramps' gun, the bunny splattered over bushes and snow, and rocky ripped into three thousand pieces.
i looked over at the old man. damn, i was shattered, but he was ice cold. cold in a clint eastwood splendor, and as much as i was shivering inside from my obliterated dreams, he looked beautiful to me - ragged, weathered, masculine, brutal...and soft. there's just something about elders, something that commands respect and admiration, even if we don't always agree with their trigger finger.
gramps never chastised me for my inadequacy. i think in fact he saw it as strength, in his own way. of course, having his own way, he could never tell me that. too strong, too manly to give away such admissions. but as we walked back to his cabin, with barely more than five words between us, i felt like his blood, proud to be his descendant. the apple doesn't necessarily fall far from the tree, i realized, and that guy was one hell of a tree to grow from.