One moment The Rabbit is dreaming and the next he is sitting up, awake, heart pitter pattering, whiskers twitching, muscles coiled and ready for flight. As always he has a moment of embarrassment, sitting there in his silk pajamas, on top of his ten thousand dollar sheets, poised like a silly woodland creature ready to spring away from some wagging predator.
He gauges the hangover level: his head spins lightly, everything a little loose and liquid. His stomach is fine. His bladder is full – a good sign. Lately he has had trouble finding the bathroom on certain evenings. A problem with the lighting that has been raised with Hughes. He tries to remember the end of the night – he had been watching the dailies, looking through his sheets for tomorrow. He was supposed to read the scripts. Did he read the scripts? He remembers one bottle of wine and then another. He feels at his nose, sucks in, wipes at the outside crust and regards his paw. Impossible to tell. He opens Twitter and of course his mentions are full. Probably it is just the usual: fans asking him questions, tagging him into private jokes, or conspiracy theorists with photos of him and Epstein, questions about Dominion voting machines or JFK Jr. He puts the phone down.
He presses the old-fashioned intercom button and mutters “coffee.” The house had been Johnny Carson’s and at first he had been too timid to make significant changes but now, with everybody staring at their phones all day, he finds the intercom and the Muzak knobs in every room, the conversation pit and the shag carpeting and the old fashioned record player comforting. Perhaps he is getting old, finally. Nostalgic.
A knock on the door, two businesslike raps and then silence. Hughes with the coffee. The dream is lingering in his mind but what was it about? He has a feeling, a happy feeling. They were having a good time, some kind of pink room. There was a buffet, rows of crabmeat and steak and carrots done every single way. Were they in one of those old hotels on The Strip? He had been relieved, comfortable, aware in the dream that he had shaken the funk that has been hanging over him lately.
He makes a note to contact Dr. Murray, ask again about an increase in dosage.
He retrieves the tray. It is much better when the coffee is brought into the room, much worse to be the one carrying the tray, laden down as it is with the coffee pot, cup, glass of water, bloody mary, pillbox, scone, small bouquet of flowers, and a printout of his agenda for the day.
He arranges everything just so and washes the pills down with the bloody. Tangy and spicy. Exactly what the body needs. He takes another sip. He stands and looks at himself in the mirror. His eyes are bloodshot, his fur is mangy and sags where it once was taut. “Could look worse for eighty-one, Doc,” he says, but there is none of the Brooklyn charm in his voice and even he can’t convince himself this morning. He looks again to the place in the corner where there didn’t used to be a dark little hole and now there it is. He waves, pictures some low-level operative choking on his coffee in some van set up outside the gate. If he is being honest, he has been pretty sure they were out to get him since Kennedy, has had extra security since Lennon, has been carrying a piece of his own since Versace.
A piece, he thinks. Always in character. He takes the gold-plated Ruger out of the nightstand and waves it to the pinprick hole in the corner.
He checks the agenda. On the set by three. It is eleven forty-five. He takes a sip of the bloody and gargles for a few beats, an old trick he learned from Rickles in the Carson green room. “Could look worse for eighty-one, Doc,” he says, and feels a little bit of the character sneaking back in already. He will be fine.
The scripts are still on the nightstand. He has been neglecting them and will have to either delay or make a guess. He picks up the Snyder version. A “gritty reboot.” On one hand, it may be time for a change. On the other he did not get to be fourth on Forbes List of Most Influential Hollywood Players by changing anything at all. Is eighty-one too old for a gritty reboot? Too young? As always there is no template for the world’s most successful rabbit.
He opens to the first page. His eyes swim. Nose twitches. In the dream they had been walking down a hallway, they had come upon a room. The script begins: “Open: a wasted city, smoldering ruins.”
He knows it is the smart move. It is the move that Carmela would tell him to make. The move that Rudy would make. Eastwood. Pitt. All of the people he should be listening to would tell him the same thing. He picks up the landline and listens to the dial tone. He imagines Johnny Carson doing this same thing. “I know you’re on there,” he says. “I know what you’re doing.” He pauses, listens for a click or a crackle. Nothing but the steady tone.
In the dream he had been walking in a group through a hallway, arriving at a room, at the right place, the place where they would be happy and drink drinks, sing songs, tell jokes. The dial tone pushes into his ears. “I know you’re out there,” he says. He points the Ruger at the hole in the corner and feigns pulling the trigger. Maybe give somebody some pause. These people could be anywhere. They could be anybody.
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