It was summer. More specifically, it was the first summer we were truly free. We had graduated just a few days before, and now we were in limbo between childhood and adulthood. A cool, sweet smelling evening breeze hit my bare arms as I lay in the dewy grass of Fulton’s front yard. Beside me, Fulton sprawled listlessly, contemplating the starts. Trixie the old beagle howled mournfully from her back yard kennel. The David house loomed above us at the base of the mountain. Mr. David swore that it was haunted. Turn of the century farmers, he said, but in the six years Fulton and I had been friends, I’d never seen a pitchfork-wielding ghost. Maybe we could play parapsychologists another night. Tonight, we were formulating a plan.
We had been sitting in silence for some time as we often did on nights like this, when a car flew up the road and into the David driveway. Nine Inch Nails blared through the speakers as Lea David stepped out and slammed the door behind her. Fulton pounced.
“So, did you bring it?”
“I brought it,” Lea said with a devilish grin.
Lea popped her trunk and yanked out a large cardboard box.
“Oh. We need gloves,” I remembered.
Fulton considered this. “There’s some in the garage. I’ll be right back.”
Fulton trotted towards the garage. Lea followed him, explaining that she needed to change clothes, and she disappeared into the house.
While the David twins were gone, I investigated the Muller house across the street. Cars were in the driveway, and the living room lights were on. The Muller family was most likely watching Thursday night crime dramas and eating popcorn as they usually did on a weeknight, and I wondered if Matt was even with them. I hoped so; he was the reason for our little escapade after all. If he had not let his dumb jock friends wander through the neighborhood in a drunken stupor and relieve themselves all over poor Trixie, there would be no reason for this lesson in retribution.
Fulton reappeared, now dressed head to toe in black, and he handed me a pair of white gardening gloves.
“Ready?” he whispered.
“As I’ll ever be, I guess.”
The screen door slammed behind us, and it made me jump. Lea was dressed exactly like her brother, and for a moment I felt like we were in the middle of a really poorly done martial arts film. Lea eyed my gloves disparagingly as she tossed me her tattered black sweatshirt.
“Moron! White gloves? Aren’t we supposed to be inconspicuous?”
Fulton shrugged. “We’ll just have to deal with it. Right Marie?”
“Right, Fulton,” I said as I pulled the sweatshirt over my head.
Fulton raised a dark eyebrow mischievously and cleared his throat. “Ladies and...ladies. Let’s get ready to rumble!”
An there it was. We didn’t exactly have a a plan of attack, but we knew what our objective was. Lea led us across the street. She was always the commander. Fulton followed close behind, ready to flee the scene if someone should approach. I brought up the rear, half trying to keep up and half wishing that we’d gone to the movies instead. We crept like weird, clumsy panthers onto the Muller’s lawn and then on to the side yard where Mary Muller did most of her gardening. Lea dove fearlessly into the rose bush. Fulton looked back at me. He didn’t need to say anything.
“Keep going! Vengeance is ours!” I whispered completely unconvincingly.
“Shut up, you guys!” hissed the annoyed, disembodied voice from rose bushes. “C’mon. Follow me.”
“Stay here. Keep watch,” Fulton said to me as he disappeared into the night.
The only sound I could hear was my thumping heart. I looked at the Muller;s side window. Blackness blanketed me and the more I concentrated, the deeper the night seem to become. My imagination started to run wild. We are going to to get caught. Any second now, Mary and her husband will sense something wrong or hear one of us breathe and turn on the backyard flood lights. Or worse, Matt will look down from his bedroom window and catch all three of us red-or, in this case white-handed. I started to sweat.
“C’mon, c’mon” I muttered to myself.
And all at once, a frenzied rustling came towards me. Somewhere in the night, I heard Fulton’s frantic whisper.
I ran. I ran faster than I’d ever run before. Adrenaline flooded through my whole body as I flew across the street, around the David house and into the backyard. Trixie let out a low, ominous growl from her kennel.
My partners in crime followed close behind me but until I was in the safety of our base, I hadn’t even noticed them. Fulton was in the lead, laughing hysterically while simultaneously trying and failing to catch his breath. Behind him was Lea, carrying our prize.
The bunny was bigger than I expected; a fat, fluffy ball of fur that was most certainly not happy to be in Lea’s arms. This struck me as particularly funny, and before I knew it was I was just as hysterical as Fulton.
“Guys, seriously. This thing is heavy,” Lea grunted. “Somebody go get me the box, now!”
Fulton sprang into action an dashed back to the driveway. I quieted myself and took the squirming bunny from Lea.
“What’s its name?” I asked.
“Snowball, I think. It probably is, anyway. That just sounds like something that prick Matt would name his bunny.”
Fulton reappeared with the box, and we put the thing in it. Snowball immediately peed in the corner. For a moment, no one spoke. We simply looked at each other, silently praising ourselves for a successful mission. It was Lea who finally spoke.
“Um...question. What do we do now?”
“What do you mean?” said Fulton as he scratched the bunny’s head.
Lea smacked him in the back of the head. “I mean, what now? We have the thing. Now what?”
We hadn’t thought of that. What were we thinking?! How had we not thought this through? I looked at my cohorts and then up at the night sky. The now full moon cast an eerie, almost ethereal glow on the back yard. And suddenly, as if the heavens opened and struck me with it, I had an idea.
“Did you think of something?” said Fulton, brows raised.
“Maybe. Is Matt’s car in front of the house? I thought I saw it there.”
“Yeah,” scoffed Lea. “You can’t miss that piece of shit. Why?”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Fulton began to smile. “Yeah,” he said slowly. “Yeah, I am. Lets go.”
Fulton grabbed Snowball, who had settled down and was nestling into the crook of his arm, and the three of us crept back across the street, me in the lead now. The Muller’s living room light had turned off, but the upstairs lights burned bright. I pictured Little Mattie sitting on his bed, feeling superior to everyone and thinking about who he would bully tomorrow. It made me so mad.
We reached Matt’s dumb, ancient, souped-up-for-no-reason Honda Civic. I checked the door handle.
Of course it would be unlocked. No one locks their doors in a safe neighborhood like this, do they?
Fulton placed Snowball gingerly on the floor of Matt’s back seat and rolled down the back window. I could just picture the scene the next morning. Matt, oblivious and probably late for work, will drive all the way to the country club with his precious Snowball, and all his rich wanna-be frat boy friends will make fun of him relentlessly.
I shut the door and we exploded into laughter, running back to our home base and not caring at all who saw us. The job was done. Payback was ours.
Little did we know that it would rain that night, or that little Snowball would develop a taste for upholstery, or that Matt’s friends would come looking for him later and leave an angry message on his door when he didn’t answer. We could not have foreseen that Matt would find Snowball chewing the stuffing out of his back seat that next morning and assume that his friends had put the bunny there as a prank, causing Matt to declare the friendship over. We had no idea that 20 years later, Matt would still be bitter about it. What we did know is that we would never forget the night of the Great Bunny Heist.