A uStory by Gregga J. Johnn
During their vacation, the family of Shiloh, Andy, and Luke took a camping trip out to the western states to visit Folk Festivals and Storytelling Events. Dad was quite the Troubadour and the whole family got to travel and enjoy Tales from all over.
It was hot and dusty out on the Western plains, and Shiloh had kept a keen eye open for tumbleweeds and cowboys while the family van sped across the highways. Rather disappointed by a distinct lack of such things, Shiloh ceased looking out the window and returned to his companions, not his brothers in the very back seat, who were playing with their Legos, but his personal companions: Pig, Lambie, and Nigel the Koala. Their faux fur and stuffing was snugly warm from sitting in the sun shining through the window and Shiloh felt a nap coming on. He made sure his little plastic Rabbit, Shiloh Bunny, was secure in the cup holder and snuggled into his friend’s softness.
It only seemed like seconds had gone by when the van stopped at a gas station and Shiloh clambered out to stretch his legs. Andy and Luke ran in to spend their allowance on drinks and candy. Shiloh had better things to do. There was a lovely pile of sand at the side of the parking area and Shiloh loved nothing more than pouring the soft, grainy sand through his fingers.
“Don’t wander off too far” called his step-mom as she walked to the Ladies room.
Perched on top of the mound, Shiloh had a perfect view of van, station house, and surrounding lands. His eyes were quickly drawn to the gap under the building where he saw something white jostling under the garden bushes. A large lop-eared rabbit wriggled his nose out at Shiloh. It pulled a back leg up and scratched his ear then sat up on his hind quarters and said,
“Howdy, Sir,” nodding his head in casual greeting.
Shiloh tilted his head to the side and stared at the rabbit. Again, it spoke,
“Folks around these here parts find it mighty polite if you say ‘Howdy’ back.”
The rabbit hopped over to him and sat up again, asking,
“I got me some errands to run that I’ma needin some help with. You wanna lend a hand to an old fella like me?”
Shiloh, a kind young person, said,
“Well, hop along onto my back then boy and we’ll go n see what mischief we can straighten out together.”
When Shiloh stood up to dust himself off, he found his size had adjusted to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rabbits back, so it was an easy thing to swing his leg up and straddle the soft whiteness.
“What do I hold onto?” Shiloh asked as his mount shifted beneath him.
“Well, Ima guessing my fur would be fine, but if you is new to riding, my ears’ll be good for ya.”
“Thank you,” said Shiloh and gripped a handful of loppy ear in each fist. He immediately felt more stable.
The rabbit spoke again, just before he took off,
“My names, Bundee, by the by, and you are?”
“Well’n I guess that makes you n me, together, Shiloh Bundee. Off we go then.”
And they did.
Shiloh found it remarkably easy to stay seated on the soft back of Bundee jumping through the underbrush, easy that is once he got into the rhythm of the jumping stride. It didn’t take long at all until the two came upon a tumbleweed town and halted in front of the Saloon, “The Rusty Rabbit.”
“Here’s where we is gonna stop a while, Sir. You a’thirstin?” Bundee looked back over his shoulder and scratched his ear where Shiloh had been clinging with sweaty palms. Shiloh rolled off his back and he landed in the dirt as the scratching back leg dislodged him.
“Sorry ‘bout that son, itchin is awful habitual.”
Bundee led the way up the steps past a family of brown rabbits strolling down the plank walk in full Sunday dress. They all nodded in greeting.
Inside ‘The Rusty Rabbit’ there was a heavy smell of carrots in the air and Bundee called out to the bartender,
“Two Rusty Rocket Fuels, straight up.”
The bartender poured a thick, foaming, orange liquid from the tap and slid them down bar. Shiloh sniffed the drink and tasted it with the tip of his finger. It was carrot juice mixed with ginger beer. They had barely begun to take their first sip when there was a scream outside and a black rabbit wearing a Sherriff’s badge ran in panicked.
“It’s got another one!”
There was a frightened kafuffle as bunny fur scattered in chaos. Shiloh found himself sitting alone as the rest of the clientele were hiding under tables, chairs and in cupboards. Shiloh slipped off the bar stool and walked toward the window to see “what had gotten whom”?
There in the centre of the street was one of the young bunnies, still in full Sunday dress, trapped and squealing loudly from within a giant, thorny tumbleweed.
Shiloh raced out and grabbed a hold of the tumbleweed with his bare hands and, gripping some of the viney threads, pulled a space open wide enough for the young bunny to crawl out of. The mama bunny cried and rushed over to her rescued son and thanked Shiloh profusely as the tumbleweed tumbled on its way, terrifying the rest of the town’s inhabitants out of its path.
Bundee came over and shook Shiloh’s hand, holding it out for the gathering crowd to see and all ‘oo-ed’ and ‘ah-ed.’
“Thumbs, my boy, them thumbs o’ yours do come in awful handy.”
Shiloh looked up the main street, a long, straight, wind tunnel and said,
“How often do the tumbleweeds attack like that?”
The Sherriff, came out and shook his head in dejection,
“Not a day goes by without us all but loosing someone to the dreaded menace.”
Shiloh looked up and down the street as another tumbleweed dashed through scattering the crowd.
“You know,” offered Shiloh, “if the main street wasn’t such an easy hallway to roll through you probably wouldn’t get so many.”
“What’s that?” questioned Bundee.
Shiloh picked up a stick and drew in the sandy dirt,
“If your town was built in less of a straight line,” he drew a curvy line with square buildings on either side, “the tumbleweeds couldn’t pick up speed and attack like that.”
“Well, I’ll be darned.” Bundee looked amazed, “He even holds the stick with them thumbs.” The Rabbits all crowded Shiloh, pawing has his hands to see the thumbs.
The Sherriff spoke up,
“What say we trade, boy?”
“What?” Shiloh was confused.
“We give you a week’s worth of Rusty Rocket Fuel and you give us your thumbs.”
“What?” Shiloh was aghast.
“A month’s worth of Rusty Rocket Fuel, then.”
“No.” Shiloh began to feel nervous.
“Ya drive a hard bargain, son.” The Sherriff scratched his chin. “Tell you what, two month’s worth of Rusty Rocket Fuel for one thumb, but that thar’s my last offer.”
“You can’t have either of my thumbs.”
“Well now that don’t seem too polite of ya, now?” Bundee spoke up, “See-in as you got two and all. You can’t need both of them.”
Shiloh backed up with his hands behind his back as the crowd moved in a bit closer, eyeing their hoped for prize. Someone pulled on his thumb and Shiloh gave a howl of distress.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you awake.” Dad stood by the open van door at Shiloh’s side. “I just thought you might like to get out and stretch your legs a bit.” He handed Shiloh his little plastic Rabbit as it had fallen onto the ground when the door slid open.
“Don’t lose Shiloh Bunny.” He said.
Shiloh took the little toy and stuffed it onto his thumb and said,
“I’ll stay in the van, thanks.”
“Ok, then.” Dad smiled as Luke and Andy ran from a rather large tumbleweed chasing them across the parking lot. “It might be safer there any way.”