We have a rabbit. He lives in a hutch in the garden but he is let out every now and then under supervision. He is not allowed in the house of course, unless he ever enters the kitchen where there are plenty of pots and pans to accommodate him. I have often dreamt of having him in a rabbit pie, or with gravy and potatoes; but like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny I don't think I'll ever have that rabbit for a meal. The family say he is a pet and they love feeding him and generally looking after him.
The other day I opened the front door and found a box at my feet with a tortoise in it. I looked left and right ... and saw nothing unusual. Why do people look left and right when something like this happens? What was I expecting to see? Someone running away after leaving the box on my doorstep? For all I know the box may have been there for ages and whoever placed it there is now long gone to another Continent.
I picked it up and asked the family, "Has anyone ordered a tortoise from the Internet?"
I didn't know you could buy such things on-line; but they all denied any responsibility. All they said is, "Can we keep him? He'll make a nice friend for Choochoo the rabbit."
Who ever heard of a rabbit called Choochoo? Sounds more like a train to me. Apparently they called him such because of the way his nose moves up and down when he chews on a lettuce leaf.
Anyway, I held the tortoise in my hand and half wondered whether I should phone the Missing Persons Bureau to check whether anyone reported a missing tortoise. I dismissed the idea thinking they'd probably say I'm wasting their time.
Besides, technically speaking, the tortoise was not missing. It did not just decide to go out for a walk and forgot where he lived. He was placed in a box, with a lid on, and the box left at my doorstep. I assumed that the tortoise had not done that to itself; so presumably someone left it here deliberately. Or by accident, mistaking my address for someone else.
I decided that for the time being I'd let him loose in the garden; whilst I sit there to keep an eye on him and searching our recipe book for any meals involving tortoises.
No sooner he was out of the box, Gonzales came out of his shell and started walking towards the end of the garden. I mean ... whoever heard of a tortoise called Gonzales? But I didn't have much say on the matter.
He walked and walked, followed by me to ensure that he doesn't wonder away to the neighbours' gardens. Eventually, walking in a perfectly straight line, he reached the end of the garden after ten minutes or so. Fortunately, he stopped by the pyracantha bushes at the end of my garden.
I was really grateful for his sudden stop because I had no intention of following him inside those bushes. I still have nightmares of the day I fell backwards from a ladder into a bush of these infernal plants; and the humiliation thereafter of having thorns removed from my derriere which looked like a pin cushion by a nurse in hospital. The nurse did not look like a pin cushion ... are you paying attention or not?
So I picked up the tortoise and turned him round a full 180 degrees. To my amazement Gonzales started walking again straight back to where he had come from. I followed him for another ten minutes or so and when he reached the house, I turned him round once again. He walked once more straight towards the pyracantha.
This went on for at least six times or so. Gonzales was intent on walking his own marathon without the incentive of a hare or rabbit named Choochoo chasing him. Up and down the garden he went until I got tired of following him; so I put him in the hutch with the rabbit.
Choochoo and Gonzales have been friends for a couple of weeks now. I've asked around and placed posters enquiring whether anyone has lost a box with a tortoise in it but no one has come forward claiming him. Instead, people look at me furtively and whisper whenever they see me in the street!