The Negotiated Settlement (part three)
I leaned on my hoe and thought about all that had transpired this summer and last. I was losing the garden war. My vegetables were disappearing at an increasing rate under the onslaught of the critters, especially by the attacks of the rabbits. In reality I had already given up. They were simply too much for me.
I toyed with the ideas of putting poison in each rabbit and ground squirrel hole, or sitting outside with my shotgun and trying to shoot just one. I finally decided both of those plans had flaws. I could be fined or arrested for shooting a firearm too close to residences, disturbing my neighbors with the noise, or worse, accidently shooting myself in all of the excitement.
As for the poison, it could have been long slow deaths for the rabbits and squirrels, and possibly for dogs or cats which happened upon a weakened rodent and decided it was a snack. I couldn’t take a chance.
I sat down and leaned against a tree as I pondered the ultimate demise of the pesky critters. My eyelids were heavy and I closed them just for a moment. I was so tired and I needed to rest. It seemed that I was floating, but the tree hadn’t moved. I hadn’t moved either but now I could see and hear things I had missed before.
Off in the distance a strange cadence broke the silence. The noise grew louder and I decided that the noisemaker was getting closer. I finally recognized the sound, just as a line of rabbits came thumping and hopping into view. It was a parade.
Each rabbit carried a musical instrument. I counted twenty trombones, twenty trumpets, fifteen snare drums, ten clarinets, and ten saxophones. At first, only the drummers were producing music, but the other musicians soon combined and began playing a Souza march.
Behind the musical marchers were three rows of suited rabbits. Each rabbit had two tall ears and a button nose. They wore crisp pin-striped suits and looked like they were fresh out of Entrepreneur or Playboy. The marching rabbits stopped and marched in place before separating and forming a path to let one of the suited rabbits through.
The rabbit was grizzled and old. He stepped forward and leaned on his polished cane. “Son,” he muttered, “we’re here to negotiate a truce. The vegetables are going to be gone soon if nothing is done. I’m here to help you!”
This was a surprise. Why did the rabbits want to help me? I was the enemy.
Two rabbits handed some papers to the old rabbit. He glanced at the papers before clearing his throat and saying, “We think all could benefit from our proposal.”
I thought t over quickly. “It’s my garden so I’m willing to give the rabbits and squirrels ten percent. No, make it twenty percent.” I was feeling generous and happy my ordeal was over.
The rabbit chuckled and then thumped the ground, howling with laughter. Other rabbits joined in and continued to laugh until he raised his paw and bade them to stop.
“There are so many more of us and we need more just because of our sheer numbers. We think the split should be ninety percent for us and ten percent for you. In addition, we also expect you to maintain the garden in order to earn your ten percent. To be fair, for our part we’ll eat the grass and thin the vegetables, leaving you ten percent.”
“That’s not fair!” I fumed. “That’s robbery!”
The old rabbit frowned at his assistants. All were solemn without any changes of expression, except for an occasional nose twitch. “You have no choice. Take it or leave it. We might decide to take it all!”
He stomped out of the garden, stopping only for a moment while he whispered to his assistants. They hopped about nervously, occasionally frowning at me, before proceeding out the gate.
While I considered his offer, a young rabbit pushed against the garden fence, looking for a place to enter. “This is ridiculous,” I said. “They’ve gotten so fat they can’t even get in.”
What could I do? I had nothing to bargain with. It was either lose everything, or get ten percent, if I worked hard to keep the garden up. Unless I acted quickly I would lose my garden entirely. I decided to agree with terms even though the settlement was not right. This year I was beaten.
I shook myself. I must have been dreaming. An idea began to form and I smiled. “Next year,” I said quietly. “Next year I will win. I will thwart all attacks because I won’t care. I will plant weeds!”
I smiled again at my devilish plan. I’d win by losing. I wouldn’t have a garden but the critters and lawyers would get nothing! It was brilliant!