Bunny and Claude
(originally appeared in Yareah Magazine 2/9/2014)
Submitted for your approval: the tawdry tale of Bunny and Claude. A tale so unbelievable that it couldn’t be true. And isn’t… i.e. any similarities between anybody you know, living or dead, is completely a coincidence. Although I think it’s fair to say we all know somebody similar to both Bunny and Claude… proving coincidence is a force not to be trifled with or understood.
Bunny was a country girl, Claude a city boy. They met on a midnight train and instantly realized that while anyone can live with quiet desperation, it’s the slight discontent that will get you. So it did. It got them. Both at the same time.
He leaned forward for a kiss and she said “So I guess this makes us partners in crime.”
From that moment a sincere word never passed between them. It was just somehow understood that every moment they were to spend together was a send-up of real life. Given their own moral ground rules, lying between the pit of man’s fears and the sunlight of his knowledge as it were, calling their actions “crimes” was being both disingenuous and generous. With an equal mix of weaponry and tomfoolery, the only thing for certain was that no money was ever going to be successfully stolen.
Oh sure, there were many attempts at bank robberies, complete with large bags with overly-large dollar signs painted on them, but something always went hilariously wrong. After awhile they had only to enter a bank and everybody on cue would fall to the ground to enjoy the show. The hold-up notes were the stuff of legend. Desperate pleas for financial riches, written with the lust of an accountant, the sincerity of a pirate, and always signed “Romeo & Juiciest. “ They never used dynamite. They called that the “Butch Cassidy Rule.”
They had both enjoyed the performing arts in colleges but upon graduation had chosen other ways to make a living. Straight-faced. Straight-laced. They preferred their drinks and upper lips the same… stiff.
Despite what you might think about her name, Bunny had never been a stripper. Although the same could not be said about her sisters Candy and Cherry.
From their first date they lied about everything. She changed her hairstyle and he bought a handgun. Claude’s friends asked him why he suddenly began to talk like an old-time gangster and all they could get out him was “That’s just the ways things are now, see? You get me?”
They traded in Bunny’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible for a 1932 Ford V-8 B-400 convertible sedan and then robbed a convenience store to celebrate. The heist netted under twenty dollars but they did manage to make off with a thousand scratch-off lottery tickets, which they handed out to diners at a local fast-food establishment later that evening.
Then one day, as they were driving through a small, horribly rustic town near the Grand Canyon, he told her a true story. When he was younger he was forced to do an “Impossible Sit-up,” which consisted of being blindfolded, held down on his back and told to do a sit-up. He struggled and struggled and at an agreed upon moment the boys holding down his shoulders let go and he went flying face-first into the bare ass of the boy crouched over his face. “Right into his ass, see? At a slumber party. You get me?”
As the story was winding up two birds began an aerial dance that started half mile up the road and ended with one of them bouncing off the windshield of the vehicle driven by our two distracted robbers. Whether they were caught up with fighting or flirting or doing an elaborate mating dance, the birds that is, it was impossible to tell. Claude applied the brake and hopped out, frantically trying to locate the bird to see if there was anything that could be done.
He heard a car door slam and watched the car pull away and drive off.
Claude was unable to find a body but nonetheless he walked to the nearest police station and turned himself in.
“I’m a murderer,” was all he said. They took him at his word and applied the handcuffs.
Bunny just kept driving. She looked into the rear view and said “Oh Claude, yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him.”
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