A few years ago I was requested to take a journey from Monterey to Staunton to help a neighbor load and haul animal feed in bags. He also confessed that he needed to do some grocery  shopping at Wal-Mart and produced a list his wife had made for him.

It was a chilly March day so we both wore our heavy-duty farm coats. My neighbor, who I will just call JK, is an old retired military guy who raises/feeds cattle on his ranch each summer. He had recently bought a surplus truck from the State Forestry Department and he was really pleased with his used truck with nearly 100,000 miles on it.

The paint was good and the tires were new but the interior was what I would describe as Ratty. The bench seat had a new seat cover with the picture of a horse on it, the cover was tied to the seat with twine left over from WW ll. The seat springs were all over stretched during their ten years of service to the state.  On each end of the seat there was a depression where a large state employee sat waiting for retirement.  I chose to wear my favorite walking shoes because the old truck was an unknown quantity and walking was a realistic possibility.

As I sat waiting for JK to get in I thought I heard a scratching noise under the seat. As he got in and turned the key a rather large rodent that he argued was a mouse jumped from the floor to my lap. The animal that I believed was a huge rat began to look for a place of refuge. His first choice was my left coat pocket. It was too small. He jumped to my left foot then tried to go up my left pants leg. I got a real good look at him, his teeth, his whiskers, his nose, his beady eyes.

He appeared to be about the size of an NFL football, with feet. I had not had a rabies shot and did not want to get gnawed on by a big rodent. Now I have never considered myself to be a super strong person, but the old adrenalin kicked in as I grabbed the door handle. I pulled that door handle right out of that door! The rat thing was now trying my right pants leg and his adrenalin had also kicked in. We must have looked like two wrestlers except I was holding the complete door handle mechanism in my right hand. Ole JK began to yell “Stop tearing up my truck”! The rat thing ran to his side as he opened his door and it got out with a thud.

We proceeded on to Staunton to get the feed and do the shopping which he referred to as “Making them Groceries”. We loaded the feed then proceeded to the grocery section of Wal-Mart. He examined every can of food looking for those which were mis-priced, sometimes as much as a whole nickel. While he was filling his carts I wandered around just looking to see what I could see. Sometimes the Wal-Mart shoppers dress sorta weird and wear green hair.

I discovered a large display of left-over two-foot chocolate Easter Bunnies marked 60% off. What a deal! Easter was last weekend and Peggy’s birthday was just a couple of days away. She loves chocolate and surprises.

I examined most of them to make sure they were not broken. Sometimes the ears get broken off. I found a good one and after paying for it, I lugged it to the truck to wait for JK. After loading his three carts of groceries we headed home. The big chocolate Bunny was on the floor and I just hoped there were no more rat things under the seat waiting to attack him.

After we arrived home, I rushed the surprise Bunny into the house and gave him to Peggy. She was delighted and unwrapped the Bunny and pulled him feet first out of his “Rabbit Box”. Joy turned to sadness as she said, “he is dead”! I examined him and sure enough that truck heater vent had melted the ears and about half of his Bunny head. His blue eyes had sunk into his melted, distorted chocolate head. Poor little guy had melted to death, his eyes were crossed. His ears were more like SQUIRREL EARS!

Upon closer examination we saw that in spite of his cruel melting, he was wearing a great big happy Easter smile and resembled JK, with SQUIRREL EARS.