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How the Rabbits Lost Their Tails Print E-mail
Written by Munro Sickafoose   

Those rabbits, you know, used to be real loudmouths. Braggarts of the first caliber. And they weren't shy about it. Not in the least.

Any average rabbit could go on for hours about how fast they were, how smart they were, how beautiful their long fluffy tails were.

Wait a minute, you say? Rabbits don't have long fluffy tails? Well, it's a little known fact, but they did. And they weren't white, neither. They were all the colors of the rainbow, they had stripes and polka-dots and checks and whatnot all over 'em. Blue with pink stripes. Black with orange polka-dots. That kind of thing. And those loudmouth rabbits were proud of them. Too proud. Yakkity,yakkity,yak... I'm fast, I'm pretty, etc.,etc. Made you sick to listen to, it did.

Well, one day all the animals were down at the watering hole, hanging out, sitting in the shade, gossiping, catching up on all the latest news and such. And Rabbit (yes, THE Rabbit, the original, the one and only) was going on and on and on about that damn tail and how fast he was, and Coyote was getting pretty darn sick of it. Bored, really. So Coyote decides to make some trouble, which is what Coyote does when she gets bored.

So Coyote saunters over, and says, kind of sneering, "Fast, eh? Faster than anything?"
And Rabbit, he ain't gonna admit that he isn't faster than anything, so he says, "Faster than anything. Prettier, too. Ever see a tail like that one? Not like that plain old tan thing you got there, Coyote."

Coyote just grins. "Bet you aren't faster than the shiny rocks those two-leggeds ride in over on the black stone river."

"I sure am," says Rabbit, without thinking.

"Wooooooooooo," say all the other animals. They all start whispering among themselves. Nobody is faster than those things, not even Deer, and there isn't anybody there who hasn't lost a relative over on the black stone river, except maybe Bear.

Coyote smiles real big. "Let's just go see about that. " And she starts walking towards the stone river, and all the animals start walking along with her, and they are all teasing and goading Rabbit now.

"C'mon, Rabbit, put yer money where yer mouth is!" "Yo, Rabbit! Gonna talk the talk gotta walk the walk!" Stuff like that. Nobody really hated Rabbit, they were all just tired of the bragging. Plus, they wanted to see what was going to happen over there on that black stone river.

Rabbit doesn't want to lose face, and even though he's kinda scared, he just pushes up to the front, sticks that red tail with the green stripes up in the air and starts talking real loud, like he's leading the procession. All too soon, they get there. Everyone mills around for a minute, and then Coyote jumps in and says, "Here's the way of it."

"Rabbit, you stand there next to that manzanita bush. See that tree up there a ways? When the next shiny rock comes over the hill and passes that tree, you have to beat it across the river without getting hit."

Everybody gets real quiet. Things are getting kinda serious now. I mean, Rabbit could get killed. Rabbit, he figures that he has a chance to beat the rock across the river, which is better than trying to RACE the thing, since then he'd lose for sure. So Rabbit nods, saunters over to the manzanita bush by the edge of the river. He does a couple of slow stretches, real cool like, then hunkers down and gets ready to run.
At first, there is just the sound of a little water gurgling over some rocks in the creek. Then they hear it, a humming sound, a wind sound, a rushing sound that gets louder and closer. Then over the hill it comes, a shiny red rock; red like a rose, shiny like ice and you can see the heads of a couple of two leggeds sticking out of it and it is going really fast. Then the shiny red rock passes the tree and everyone yells, "GO!"

Rabbit springs out in front of it and runs. And at that moment, everyone sees that Rabbit IS fast, he's a blur. And whatever else, he's brave, too. Then the red rock passes, hiding Rabbit in the wind and dust, and for a moment no one can see Rabbit at all. Maybe he's dead? Maybe the shiny red rock carried him away?

The bushes on the other side of the road rattle, and Rabbit steps out and starts to walk back across the black stone river towards them. All the animals let out a big cheer and start jumping up and down with excitement, except for Coyote. It was a great run for Rabbit. Rabbit is vindicated and Coyote isn't happy.
Rabbit gets a bit closer, though, and everyone can see that Rabbit has a tear or two running down his cheek. "What's the matter?," pipes up Wren. Rabbit shakes his head and turns around, and everyone can see that his tail, his beautiful tail, is gone. It's been cut off by the shiny rock and in its place is just a little fluffy bit of a tail. A white fluffy bit, since Rabbit was soooo scared it turned white.

Coyote starts to laugh. Then all those other animals start to laugh too. It's funny! Loudmouth Rabbit lost his tail! Everyone is laughing, and Coyote is laughing hardest of all, rolling on the black stone river, holding her belly. They are all laughing so hard they don't hear the big black shiny rock that comes over the hill and smacks into Coyote, BAM! Next thing you know, Coyote is lying there dead by the side of the road and no one is laughing any more.

That's the end of the story. Everybody went home and talked about what happened for a while, then something else happened and they forgot about it and stopped talking about it. But it's a true story. To this day, those rabbits have little fluffy white tails and they don't brag any more. Matter of fact, they have a reputation for being timid. But they still jump out in front of your car, trying to beat it across the black stone river, just like Rabbit did.

And Coyote? Well, she lay there stinking for a few weeks, till even the flies gave up on her, then she decided she'd had enough of that and came back to life and went off to make more trouble. That's true too. When you drive along, you can see Coyote lying dead by the side of the road, stinking. But just a few miles further on, there's Coyote again, watching you drive by in that big ole' shiny rock of yours.

And if you look real close, you can see Coyote grin.

Copyright © 1999 Munro Sickafoose

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How the Rabbits Lost Their Tails
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