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2002-10-31 | 11:44 p.m.

A black cat I expect to cross my path at eleven o'clock on Halloween night, or any night for that matter, but what I do not expect is an enormous white rabbit to emerge from the eerie haze cast by my headlights, hippity hoppity, park itself at the curb and eye me cagily while munching grass plucked from the seam in the street where the asphalt meets the concrete.

What else can I do but stop the van and watch the rabbit? The girls are with me and we are all of a mind. Very strange to see a rabbit like this, so even though we have seen rabbits closer up, at the fair, it is still worth every moment we spend there just watching the rabbit eat.

(We have been on a fool's errand to Wal-Mart, where my sister had said all the Halloween stuff was already marked down. Which turned out to be absolutely untrue, and to be honest hardly anything in the entire store was on sale. I did notice on the way out, however, that from their optical center you can buy contact lenses featuring your favorite NFL team. So for example, since Duff likes the Raiders, and their colors are silver and black, his contact lenses would be silver with the team name in black.)

"That's someone's pet," I say, and the girls want to know how I can be so sure. I'm neither John McPhee nor Titania, Queen of the Fairies, but I'm reasonably certain that Northern California does not have a native population of obese white rabbits. I've seen wild rabbits, what I take to be wild rabbits anyway, and they to be on the lean side and usually a mottled color, like dried grass.

"It's probably escaped," I say.

I think it over but decide there is nothing I can do about the rabbit. Assuming I could capture it, which is optimistic at best, what would I do with it? Hold it up by the ears and go door to door, at eleven o'clock on Halloween night, asking, "Is this your rabbit?"

There is something very Alice in Wonderland about the whole experience. Also something very Nightmare Before Christmas.

I start to pull away and Criminy says, "If we see a sign with a rabbit on it, we'll have to come right back and get that rabbit and take it home."

"No," I say.

"No?" Criminy sounds surprised.

"No. Somebody will just have to start taking better care with their rabbit."

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