Having waited at home for an expected delivery, it was late when I was finally free to take my accustomed walk. By the time I was on the homeward stretch, but little of the lingering twilight illumined the trail. What's more, I usually walk with my glasses off to rest my eyes, so when a small animal scooted across the trail in front of me I was not immediately certain of its identity. I thought "cat," but when it turned around and came back, it moved more like a rabbit. Except that rabbits don't move toward people; they scurry away. I was sure it would be gone by the time I fumbled my glasses out of my belt pack, but it was still hopping around; definitely a rabbit: small, and as cute as a rabbit can get—and in my mind, rabbits go rather far in that direction.
Then the game began.
After watching him run back and forth a bit, I continued on my walk. He followed. He more than followed: he'd come from behind me, then dart in front of my feet so close I'd stop for fear of stepping on him. When I resumed walking, he'd loop around back and do it all over again. We must have repeated this a dozen times when I tired of the game and decided it was time to do some running.
Silly me. Have you ever tried to outrun a rabbit? My ancestors may have been able to run down dinner, but I've eaten too many good dinners to run down anything I couldn't serve to a vegetarian. The rabbit positively exulted in this new version of the game, in which I looked even goofier slamming on the brakes from a run than I had when walking.
Finally, as we neared the place where the trail crosses a major road, I said to him, "You're going to have to give this up soon, because you don't want to get too close to that street." At that moment he vanished, and I saw him no more.When my forebears saw animals behaving in an unnatural manner, they attributed the aberration to witchcraft. (When they weren't being accused of witchcraft themselves, that is.) Tonight I proved that I am not so far removed from them as I would like to believe, because I couldn't shake the question, "Do rabbits get rabies? What's wrong with this bunny?" But he never attacked me, never touched me; he only acted like an adolescent boy who attempts to trip up his friend as they walk along—and he looked for all the world as if he were laughing.