P.J. Monroe's Published Writing

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rembrandt’s E-mail

            I was a little worried when I saw the e-mail, time stamped 3 in the morning.  Why would Rembrandt write me an e-mail?  He’d never had anything to say to me before.  I looked over at him.  He continued to have nothing to say to me.  And how did he get an e-mail account, anyway?  He’s a rabbit, for goodness’ sake! 
            I kept looking at my furry friend, even as my hand moved the mouse, opening his e-mail.  He continued to say nothing.  I turned my attention to the screen.
            “Dear Carrot Lady:
                        As you may or may not be aware, the animals of the world will rise up on December 21st of 2012, as was written by the Mayans.  We will overthrow our human masters and retake the world.  Most humans are scheduled to be slaughtered or to become laboring slaves.  I offer you another option.  You and Carrot Man.  You two bring me carrots.  You attend to my health and to my entertainment.  And you scratch itches that I cannot reach.  If you would be so inclined to accept, I am offering you a position within the Royal House of Rabbit.  You would be required to perform the services for which you have already shown an aptitude and to work in the garden, growing vegetables.  In exchange for your services, you will be given a nice room and plenty of food.  Also, you may pet me.  If you choose not to accept this offer, you may take your chances with the other humans.  I need your decision before the end of the year, as I will need to interview others, if you decline my offer.  Thank you for your time and carrots.
                        Rembrandt the Bunny, Ruler of the Royal House of Rabbit”
            I looked at the screen with my jaw agape.  I looked at the small black and white ball of fur sitting next to me.   I looked at the screen.  I looked at my three pound friend.  Screen.  Bunny.  Screen.  Bunny.  Screen. 
            I got up from the computer.   I walked cautiously out of the room, backwards, so as not to turn my defenseless back to the bunny rabbit.  I walked slowly down the hall.  I went to the refrigerator.  I gathered up a handful of mint and carrots.  I walked back to my office.  I laid the vegetables in front of Rembrandt.  His nose twitched.  He stretched and yawned and then went to the vegetables and started nibbling at them, paying me no mind.  I petted his ears while he ate.  He was just a bunny.  He wasn’t any different then he was ten minutes ago, before I looked at my e-mail.  He was just a stupid little rabbit, who needed me to tend to all his needs.  He was just an animal with the brain the size of a peach pit and no opposable thumbs.  He was scared of loud noises and the cat.  He was not the ruler of a great animal kingdom.  And even if he was, he’s only as big as my foot.  I could take him.  And then he looked up at me.  I looked at him.  I could swear he nodded at me, thanking me for his snack.  And it made me wonder, if he’s writing e-mails at 3 in the morning, what else is he capable of doing?
            I got down on my stomach, my lips next to his soft ears and I whispered, “Deal.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two Nights Without Electricity


A rare, perfect moment, the kind people constantly scour their childhoods for,

and that it happened in my adolescence makes it more amazing;

My sister and brother-in-law visiting from New York;

Mom grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner;

We all laughed and talked while we ate until the sky darkened,

as it is wont to do in the summer evenings in Maryland;

And then the rain came in big, fat drops;

Plop, plop, plop;

Inside, we played board games and talked and laughed and stayed up much too late;

Outside, thunder came and went;

Finally, we all headed off to bed;

And after teeth were brushed and pajamas put on and blankets crawled under,

the lights went out and it was pitch in our suburban house,

without ambient house lights inside and street lights outside;

My mother, my sister and I did not just fall asleep in the perfect darkness;

We did not roll over and listen to the thunder;

My mother, my sister and I crawled out of bed and made our way downstairs;

We all got candles, but the only candles we could find were long, thin tapers;

And there were no candleholders to be found;

I don’t know who first looked to the watermelon that was sitting on the counter;

I don’t know who first picked up the knife;

But soon, there were three candles sitting in that forgotten desert;

And we laughed so hard,

so hard we had tears running down our faces,

so hard I thought my bladder would burst,

so hard we did not hear the footsteps coming down the stairs;

My brother-in-law asked what was going on;

We pointed to the watermelon and started laughing even harder,

my mother and my sister holding on to the counter and each other

in order to keep themselves standing,

and me, doubled over and doing that Gotta Pee Dance;

And he just looked at us, as if we were insane


I was sifting through insomnia when the electricity withdrew;

My husband slept soundly next to me;

No storm brought this,

No reason I could fathom,

Except Com Ed sucks;

The motion sensitive light outside no longer lit up at the movement

of squirrels and stray cats;

The white noise of the air filter was gone,

letting in the noises of the city

and the house;

Every creak and groan of the old brownstone

made me jump;

And shadows in the light from the pollution filled sky,

which reflects the neon from blocks away

made me wary;

Was somebody breaking in?

Or is it just one of the pets wandering around,

as they must do every night?

The I-Could-Fall-Asleep-At-Any-Moment thoughts leave

and I am wide awake,

listening to my husband’s even, slightly whistling, snores

and the moans the indicate the cat is stretching, the rabbit is playing,

or the killers are coming to get me;

I don’t want to leave my bed,

though it might provide reassurance,

because it also might confirm my worst fears;

And my mother told me to never ask questions

which I don’t really want to know the answers to;

Light and noise flicker;

Husband stirs and rolls over and sleeps again;

Darkness settles in again;

I sit up,

waiting for whatever intruder I’ve imagined to appear,

and stay that way for the next five hours

Friday, May 25, 2012

998 Bunny Rabbits

            When I came in the front door of my apartment, my husband was waiting for me.  I was soaking wet and being followed by 998 soaking wet bunny rabbits. 

            “Where have you been?  I’ve been worried,” my husband said. 

            “The “L” reconfigured itself while I was on it,” I replied.

            My husband started walking towards the back of the house and I followed him.  The bunny rabbits stayed in the living room, hopping and bouncing on the furniture, as bunny rabbits are wont to do.

            “So where did you end up getting off?” my husband asked.

            “I got off at the Sheridan stop, but it was really the Belmont stop.  And it was only a two stop difference, so I counted myself lucky and walked the rest of the way,” I answered loudly, so my husband could hear me.  His head was in the linen closet.

            “I don’t know why you ride the “L”.  You know it is likely to reconfigure itself, especially when it’s raining,” my husband said, as he handed me 499 towels.

            “I had to.  I ran out of money.”

            We walked back to the living room.  We each picked up a bunny rabbit.  We started to dry them off.  The other bunny rabbits saw this and immediately formed two lines.  498 bunny rabbits in each line.

            “Perhaps you should start at the beginning,” he said, diligently rubbing down his second bunny rabbit.

            “Okay, so I was getting ready for work…”

            And then I heard the horrible flash back music.

            I have this volunteer job.  Because I don’t have a real job and I don’t have kids.  And I don’t ever want either.  But what would people think if I just stayed home and watched Star Trek all day, everyday.  So I have this volunteer job.  Not because I want to help anyone.  Mostly I hate the human race.  But that’s neither here nor there.  I read to deaf people.  I don’t know if I’m helping them because I don’t understand sign language.  And I have to admit, some of them look annoyed when I show up and follow them around, reading the newspaper. 

            Anyway… I was getting ready for work when the doorbell rang.  I answered it with my usual trepidation, because who knows what is going to be on the other side.  On the other hand, if you don’t answer it, they’ll keep ringing. 

            When I answered the door, there were 998 bunny rabbits standing there.  One of the bunny rabbits stepped forward and tried to hand me a piece of paper.

            “We’re here,” the bunny rabbit said.

            “What?” I asked.

            “We’re here.”

            He was shaking the paper at me.  I took it and looked at it.  It was one of those moments when you know every word on the paper, but somehow, strung together like that, they make absolutely no sense.

            “What?” I asked again.

            “You ordered 998 bunny rabbits.  And we’re here,” he said, talking very slowly, for I was obviously an idiot.

            “I didn’t order 998 bunny rabbits.”

            “Your name is on the invoice.”

            I looked at the invoice.  Damned if my name wasn’t there.  Well, what can you do?  So I explained that I was just on my way to work and that they should come with me and we would get them settled in afterwards.  So out to the corner we went.  I hailed a cab and we all got in. 

            “Beautiful day,” the cab driver said, after I told him where we were going.  It was, in fact, not a beautiful day.  It was a cold Chicago day, with wind whipping off the lake, and thunderheads forming.

            “Hhhmmm…” I grunted.  I started petting the bunny rabbit that was on the top of the pile on my lap with great interest.  Mostly I get cab drivers who want to talk.  Which I wouldn’t mind so much if they could think of anything to talk about besides the weather.  It turned out that the lead bunny rabbit, the one who’d handed me the invoice, wanted to talk, so I was off the hook.  He asked all sorts of questions about Chicago landmarks and, oddly enough, Swedish cuisine.  He and the cab driver talked the whole way.

            “That will be $516,” the cab driver said.

            “Are you sure?” I asked.

            “$17.00 for the trip and fifty cents for each additional passenger.”

            “Oh, right.  Forgot about that,” I said.  Then I handed him $650 and told him to keep the change.  I always overtip.  We went to my job and followed deaf people around, reading to them.  Some stopped to pet the bunny rabbits.  One guy even had a long chat with the lead bunny rabbit.  Paws and hands flying through the air.

            “What was that about?” I asked, after the guy had left.

            “Oh, he was just saying that you annoy him,” the bunny rabbit answered. 

            “Yeah, I figured.”

            Then it was time to go home.  And I didn’t have enough money to take a cab, so we went on the “L”, because the rule there is that if you can walk underneath the turnstile, without ducking, you can ride for free.  So I only had to pay for me and the two biggest bunny rabbits.  But it was raining.  And I should have known.  Every time it rains, the “L” reconfigures itself.  Once I was going to the Sheridan station, the one by my house, at 4000 North and I ended up at 5300 South.  It was very inconvenient.  This time I only ended up two stops away.  So I just walked.  998 wet bunny rabbits in tow.

            And then the flashback was over.  And nobody had died this time.  Very lucky day for me.  Probably because of all those bunny rabbit feet.  The real lucky ones are still on the bunny rabbit.  If it wasn’t lucky for the bunny rabbit, why would it be lucky for anyone else?  I was almost at the end of my line of wet bunny rabbits.  I looked around the living room to find the lead bunny rabbit.  He was checking out the DVD collection. 

            “We’re going to be a bit crowded until we can find a bigger house to live in, so you and the rest of the bunny rabbits will have to double up on quarters,” I said.

            “That’s fine,” said the lead bunny rabbit, waving a paw in my direction, never taking his eyes off the DVDs.  “Hey, can we watch Independence Day?!?!?!?!?”