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The Great Escape

by  poemsgalore

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2003
Word Count: 1168
Summary: Loosely based on something that happened when I was about 15 (100 years ago).

The Great Escape

Goldie was notorious on the Crescent where I lived next door to my cousin Stephen. She was always escaping.

Stephen bred rabbits; or rather he helped my uncle breed rabbits. Old English to be exact. Beautiful white rabbits with a black stripe down the middle of their backs and black smudges down each side.

"No two rabbits have the same markings," he told me. "Each spot is like a fingerprint." I wasn't entirely convinced, as most of the rabbits looked exactly the same. Only one day for some unknown reason, one litter was born which consisted of four tiny black and white bundles of fur and one tiny brown one. She (I was assured it was a she) had a gold patch on the back of her neck. I instantly fell in love with her and named her Goldie. After much pleading on my part, mum and dad let me add her to our menagerie of two cats, one dog, a tortoise and three budgies.

Her career in escapology began quite early: but one dull damp Saturday in autumn she excelled herself. I was certain I had secured her cage the night before and covered it with a tarpaulin as it was pouring with rain. When I went out the next morning with a fresh juicy carrot, everything looked normal. I threw back the tarpaulin expecting to see Goldie, her nose twitching in anticipation. But she wasn't there so I assumed she was in the other end of her cage that she used as a toilet.

"Goldie!" I called and tapped on the wire mesh. I didn't want to embarrass her by opening the door while she was - well, you know. I listened but I couldn't hear Goldie scraping or bumping as she buried her droppings in the straw. So I decided to open it; but it was already open. Goldie had escaped again.

"Mum!" I ran into the house startling Pongo, our eldest and most cantankerous cat who was curled up asleep on the flip top rubbish bin in the kitchen. The lid wobbled as he balanced precariously on three legs and tried to save himself. He only succeeded in tipping the whole lot over and ended up covered in potato peelings and tea bags. This excited Pedro our Bull Terrier who began snuffling around for something edible among the debris. He was rewarded by a sharp swipe from Pongo; who fled down the hall leaving a trail of tin cans and bread wrappers behind him.

I hardly dared look at mum. She stood in her usual pose: hands on hips, right foot tapping on the floor.

"You can just get that lot cleared up," she frowned and pursed her lips.

"I didn't do it," I wailed, "anyway Goldie's escaped again and I've got to look for her."

"You should have thought of that before you charged in and scared Pongo. Now clear it up - else."

"Stupid cat shouldn't sleep there anyway," I muttered as I got to my knees. It's surprising how stinky eggshells and things can get after a few hours in a rubbish bin.

There was no sign of Goldie in the garden and now it had begun to drizzle. I sat with Stephen next to Goldie's empty cage and wondered what to do next.

"You don't think someone's took her do you?" I asked. Stephen looked thoughtful.

"I doubt it, you're the only person who can handle her without world war three breaking out. Besides, why would anyone want to take Goldie when everyone knows we've got a shed full of show rabbits next door?" He had a point; Goldie must have escaped all by herself. After all, she was a bit of an expert at it.

At that moment there was a shout from the garden four doors down.

"That damned rabbit's escaped again!" It was Mr Rook; he spent all his time in the garden whatever the weather. His cabbages and carrots were legendary at the local garden shows. He always wore a toupee and was convinced everyone believed it was his own hair. "If I ever get my hands on it, I'll wring its neck and have it for dinner."

"Oh no you won't!" I shouted back. Mr Rook hadn't seen me until then and startled, he jumped and caught his head on the washing line which twanged loudly and knocked his wig, which flew across the garden where Jasper - our other cat - was hiding among the bushes. He considered himself the world's best mouser and thought all his birthdays and Christmas' had come at once when he saw what he assumed to be a giant mouse land just in front of him. He pounced and grabbed the 'mouse' between his front paws, tossed it in the air once or twice, then caught it in his mouth and disappeared over the fence into the fields behind the Crescent.

Mr Rook stood with his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish. Then he jumped again as a brown furry shape with a patch of gold on its neck dashed from his row of prize cabbages and started to burrow down among his carrots.

"That does it!" He spluttered and stormed into his shed. He came out wearing a battered old hat and carrying a long handled landing net.

Stephen and I scrambled over the fences to Mr Rook's garden. Holding the net in the air, Mr rook tiptoed along the rows of carrots and cursed under his breath. Then I saw Goldie emerge from the undergrowth. Unfortunately, so did Mr Rook.

He stood poised for the kill as Goldie headed straight for him; unaware of the danger she was in.

"Do something," Stephen whispered.

"I can't, I might frighten Goldie then we'll never get her back."

"What shall we do then?"

"Wait for Mr Rook to catch her then appeal to his better nature."

"Mr Rook hasn't got a better nature. We should do something," Stephen answered.

The decision was taken out of our hands as that was the moment Jasper chose to come back. He jumped from a tree next to Mr Rook and dropped the limp and battered hairpiece at his feet. Then giving one last disgusted look, sauntered home with his head in the air and tail held high.

Goldie had disappeared; Mr Rook picked up his wig and carried it dejectedly back to the house to a round of applause. Everyone in the Crescent had seen the entire episode. Some had even caught it on video. Mr Rook never got over the embarrassment and soon moved to another area. A lovely family live there now and they like animals almost as much as we do.

Goldie never came back but sometimes on an autumn evening, just as the sun begins to set, a small bundle of brown fur can be seen racing across the bare fields behind the Crescent. I wonder if it has a gold patch on its neck?