A Midnight Date with the Easter Bunny by L.M. Brown
A male/male short story (PG rated)
“At it like rabbits they were, all night. You should’ve heard them.”
Bartholomew wondered what rabbits the man was talking about. He certainly wasn’t getting any these days, and from what he could see neither were his fellow prisoners. He couldn’t speak for the others, but he knew he only had himself to blame for his own predicament.
“What makes you think I’ve got any interest in listening to your lesbian neighbours have sex?” Declan, the pet shop owner, and Bartholomew’s jailer asked.
“You’re gay; isn’t that right up your alley?”
Declan rolled his eyes. “No, Jake. Now if it was two blokes shagging next door…”
Declan laughed. “Come on, I’ve got to finish feeding the birds before I’m done for the day.”
Jake shifted out of his way and wandered over to the rabbit cages. When he poked his finger through Bartholomew’s cage he contemplated whether to bite it or not.
“This rabbit’s giving me the evil eye again,” Jake commented.
“Don’t talk rot,” Declan called from the other side of the room. “It’s just a harmless little rabbit.”
“It’s glaring at me like it wants to attack me.”
Maybe Jake wasn’t as stupid as Bartholomew had thought.
Bartholomew watched as Declan fed the parrots, tuning out Jake’s complaining about evil rabbits. Then they disappeared out the door leaving him alone, with nothing to do except bide his time. The wall clock showed it was just after seven which meant that in just under five hours his imprisonment would be over.
It was nearly midnight when the door to the shop opened. At first Bartholomew thought it was Declan returning after a night out to check on the store as he sometimes did, then he realised the owner would have used his keys instead of smashing the window.
The burglars were hardly stealthy in their movements as they banged around the shop, knocking into things as they stumbled around. Bartholomew knew Declan lived in the flat above the shop and if they continued to make such a racket he’d surely hear them. Despite the fact that Declan was his unwitting jailer, he was a good man and Bartholomew didn’t want him placed in any danger.
The burglars had just reached the cash register when midnight arrived. Bartholomew felt the rush of his powers returning with the advent of Easter. Now to show these burglars a thing or two.
With a single thought he flipped open the latch of his cage. Freedom!
He hopped out onto the floor, changing into his human form before he hit the ground. The burglars were too distracted to notice him. He’d soon fix that.
“Are you lost?” he asked politely.
The burglars spun round to face him, shock turning to amusement when they looked him over. It was hardly his fault he lost his clothes each time he took animal form. It was a shame that of all the powers he had over Easter, whipping up a few clothes from thin air wasn’t one of them.
“You seem to have forgotten something,” the first burglar blurted out between guffaws of laughter.
“Maybe he’s the fag owner’s boyfriend,” the second burglar suggested.
Bartholomew took a step forward, aiming for menacing, but falling short of the mark. Rabbits just weren’t that threatening, and whichever form he was in, by nature he was just a bunny. The burglars on the other hand were much more dangerous and outnumbered him too.
Thankfully for Bartholomew, the silent alarm on the door had been triggered and the police car pulled up outside the door.
“Shit!” the first burglar swore as he bolted for the back room and an escape route. The second one followed after him a few seconds later.
Not wanting to explain his own presence to the police, not to mention his nakedness, Bartholomew turned invisible and lingered around to watch the police apprehend the criminals.
Declan came down from his flat and checked the shop.
“Anything missing?” the officer asked.
“They hadn’t managed to get into the till,” Declan confirmed.
“Well, if you find something later, let us know. We think there was just the two of them, but it’s best to be sure.”
It was only after the police were gone that Declan noticed the empty cage. “Damn it.”
Bartholomew, who had far too much to do to be lingering around much longer felt a twinge in the region of his chest at Declan’s obvious dismay as he searched the shop for the missing rabbit. When his search moved to the street Bartholomew knew he couldn’t stay silent any longer.
“Declan, wait.” He stepped behind the counter as he made himself visible. His appearance might go down better if his nakedness wasn’t blatant.
Declan spun round. “Where the hell did you come from?”
“I’ve been here for a while, you just didn’t see me.”
“I think I’d have noticed you if you’d been here.”
“I was invisible.”
Declan rolled his eyes. “Great, first it’s burglars, now it’s a lunatic.”
“I’m not crazy. I’m the Easter Bunny.” Declan looked as though he hadn’t quite heard him properly. “You know, visits around the Easter holidays, delivers eggs to the children.”
“I know what the Easter Bunny is,” Declan snapped. “And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re not a rabbit.”
“Not at the moment.” Bartholomew stepped around the counter and Declan stepped back. No one ever believed him without evidence, so he shouldn’t have been surprised at Declan’s reaction. If it was proof he wanted, proof he would have. In the blink of an eye he changed back into the white rabbit he had been stuck as for the last year.
Declan hit the ground with a thud.
Bartholomew quickly changed back and rushed towards him. Odd, he hadn’t put Declan down as a fainter. Not that he was the first to pass out when they saw him change form. “Come on, wakey-wakey,” he coaxed until Declan opened his eyes.
“Did I just see what I thought I saw?”
“If you saw me change into a rabbit, then yes.”
Declan sat up and rubbed the back of his head. “Are you a magician or something?”
“They pull rabbits out of hats, they don’t turn into them. I told you what I was.” Bartholomew sat down on the floor beside Declan and sighed. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just didn’t want you to worry about your missing rabbit.”
“If you’re really the Easter Bunny – geez, I can’t believe I just said that – then what have you been doing in my pet shop for the last year?”
“Ah. Well, that was my own fault really. You see, I only have my powers during the Easter weekend. Whatever form I am in at the stroke on midnight on Easter Monday is the one I must stay in until the following Easter. Usually I make sure I’m human for the year, but last year I was careless and got stuck as a rabbit. I was mistaken for a regular animal and brought here. Without my powers all I could do is wait it out. It’s not the first time it’s happened, though it’s the first time I’ve been in a shop for so long without being purchased.”
Declan chuckled. “I’m kind of surprised you never got bought actually. I was very tempted to take you upstairs and keep you for myself.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Declan flushed a delightful shade of red. “It’s daft really.”
“It’s just that sometimes I got the feeling you were watching me.”
“I realise that now. I meant watching me, like checking me out.”
Bartholomew laughed. “I probably was.”
“Oh. You’re gay?”
“I don’t really like labels. They tend to stereotype people and I get enough of that with the whole Easter Bunny thing without adding to it.”
“You do realise most people don’t actually believe in the Easter Bunny?”
“Humans don’t, but those who are straddling two worlds are aware of my existence.”
“You mean there are more of you out there?”
“I’m one of a kind, but there are many creatures out there, mermen, ghosts, werewolves, angels and demons, you name it, they all exist in one form or another.”
“But you’re the only Easter Bunny?”
“Seems like an impossible job for just one of you.”
“Not really. Humans tend to get things organised in my name most of the time. I just go to places where a little magic is needed.”
“Still sounds busy.”
“It is. Which is why I shouldn’t be lingering here any longer. This is a busy weekend for me.”
Bartholomew stood up and pulled Declan to his feet. “Thank you for taking care of me this last year.”
“You’re welcome, I guess.”
“Just one thing.”
“If I wind up as a rabbit again next week, can you at least let me have the run of the shop?”
“I’ll get shut down if I have animals running loose in here.”
Bartholomew sighed. “Ah well, it was worth a try. Now I really have to run.”
“Wait!” Declan grabbed his arm to stop him from leaving. “Will I ever see you again?”
Bartholomew cocked his head to one side. “Would you like to?”
“Then I’ll be back on Tuesday.” He started to vanish but was stopped once again by Declan. “I really have to go.”
“You didn’t tell me your name,” Declan explained.
“First name Easter, last name Bunny?” Bartholomew suggested with a teasing grin. “Also known as Bartholomew, which in some circles – those with a lot of overly butch shifters – is considered even worse.”
“Bartholomew,” Declan whispered, repeating the name several times to test it. “I think I like it. It suits you.”
Bartholomew laughed. “Well, that’s okay then. I’ll be back on Tuesday. Just don’t tell anyone you have a date with the Easter Bunny, or you might be the one locked up instead.”
With one last wink and a laugh Bartholomew vanished from the shop. He suspected this next year would be a vast improvement on the last.