My name's Roberts. I work for a newspaper. My job, if you don't already know it, is in jeopardy. Newspapers, those dinosaurs of print, are dying a slow but sure death. But that's another story. My mission at the moment was saving my livelihood and finding a story that would keep paying the rent.
As I was about to leave the office to go interview a Born Again evangelical transvestite street preacher, I heard a shout from the editor's office.
"Roberts, get in here!"
The old man was using his stern "I'm the boss" voice, so I decided not to pretend I hadn't heard him, and walked to see what he wanted, but I walked slowly.
"Well," I asked as I entered the dimly lit chamber where the corpulent old fart presided behind a massive oak desk that was too big even for his immensity.
"Don't give me any of your confounded insolence, Jackass!" His contempt for me hid a real affection, I was sure. "I've got a story for ya," he continued, "a story so big it could blow the lid off!"
"The lid off what?"
"You're the reporter, that's for YOU to find out!"
He handed me a piece of scrap paper on which he'd jotted down an address, and by the look of it, more hastily than usual. I could barely read it, it was scribbled so poorly, worse than any doctor's prescription.
He took his cigar out of his mouth long enough to speak clearly. "Some farmer says there's some stupid little bunny rabbit sitting smack dab in the middle of his crops. And cause it's Easter time, people won't let him shoot it. Can you believe it! Protecting a bunny when people are starving."
I nearly laughed, hearing the word starving coming from the mouth of such a fatty.
"I see your smirk, don't think I can't just because it's dark in here. Now that farmer, you know what really burns him up, more than that bunny's squatting on his property? He seen it smiling, that's right, that damn Peter Cotton tail is actually enjoying all the attention. Anyway, go get that story!"
I drove out to the farm, but I took my time. I was in no rush to write another worthless animal story. I wanted a real scoop, one that would really blow the lid off something important.
I arrived late, after dark. There appeared to be no one around, not even the farmer, who had probably gone to bed. You know, all that "early to bed, early to rise" crap. I did see one lonely light from an upstairs window of the farm house, but I figured it was just a night light, that or the farmer's wife liked to read in bed.
I got out of my car and walked to the edge of the field. I looked around. The moon was bright, and by its light I could tell that the crops were destroyed in the immediate vicinity. Apparently that little bunny had attracted quite a following. As I turned I saw something jump from the corner of my eye. It was a bunny! I ran after it, and it stopped hopping suddenly. It was little, all right, so it must be him, I guessed. The little fellow's back was toward me.
"Little bunny," I said. He didn't move, so I stepped carefully around to the front of him.
"Little bunny?" I spoke again, but he still wouldn't move or look up. I didn't see a story here, so I began walking back to my car, when a voice, soft but nevertheless distinct, said: "They've forgotten the true meaning of Easter."
I whirled around. "Who said that?" I demanded. The little bunny was gone. I looked about, but the small rabbit had vanished. And then I heard the voice again, louder this time. It was an odd voice, not human, not robotic, but something in between, like another species imitating human sounds.
"I am the Easter Bunny! I'm tired of all this Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! It's about me! But people have forgotten that I died for their chocolate desires, for their sensual delights, for their humanity! Jesus? Nothing but a pagan myth dressed up in Jewish garb! I'm the real deal! I exist! I rise from my warren, from my underground catacombs, every Easter Sunday! Not once, and then no encore. Not two thousand years ago, where the sands of time have obscured the truth. No, I exist and rise and leave baskets all over the world, and I live in every child's mind who believes in me, who sees me hop around the corner as they search their yard on Easter morning, who catch a brief glimpse of my long ears as I disappear down the grassy knoll of their childhood games. I live, I'm real, I exist!"
"Who's there!" It was another voice, definitely human this time, and coming from the direction of the house. I heard footsteps and then a loud noise. I was shot! I fell to the ground, and from the corner of my eye I saw the little bunny again, and he hopped away into the night. The farmer ran up to me.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Just a reporter," I said. "Tell the world the true meaning of Easter, will ya? Tell them the Easter Bunny is real. Tell them I died so they could know the truth, and the truth shall set them free."
The farmer stared down at me, and puzzlement wasn't a good enough word for the quizzical expression on his face. I knew I wouldn't live to get the story out, to blow the lid off of Easter, to free people's minds from the grip of false religion. So to anyone reading this (I'm talking into my recorder on the way to the hospital), please get the word out.
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