The first time we went rabbit hunting was a few weeks ago. My friend told me he had left his air rifle back in Infanta and so the method of killing was to be the new tires on his bakkie. We left at night, picking up a few of his friends before making our way to the abandoned golf course where, as we approached, he assured us in an ecstatic variety of accents, we would find ourselves some “bitties”.
We bumped along a set of tire tracks with our headlights on. James would then amble the vehicle to and fro across the road, sending his brights searching, swaying across the terrain of the once maintained golf course. Clumps of tall grass and bushes like bunny ears occupied the smoother fairway, growing in number towards its edges to bushes, tall grass like reeds and great divots. He swung the bakkie with a reassuring degree of experience, all the while commentating the adventure in Hugh Bladen, then Steve Irwin, an unidentified Russian and then he was singing for the rabbits in a cooing falsetto: Come out sweet rabbits, we don’t want to hurt you, we just want to…kill you. We chuckled like children. I was the voice of compassion and morality, voicing concerns that should not be brought up on a hunt. This was my first “hunt”, if you could call it that, and I was partly trying to offset the rising bloodlust inflected in the conversation, trying to ensure we were having a balanced dialogue, something that should not be done on a hunt.
“Are you going to kill me a rabbit Jimpy? You better kill me a rabbit.” Said the girl from the backseat with a wickedness that still for some reason surprised me to see in a woman.
“Don’t worry my sweet little…ferret.” She was laughing. “A good rabbit.” His voice went to a falsetto, “A good sweet juicy” then Golem, “little rabbit, a precious little rabbit.” He started coughing.
It was Lady Macbeth and her schizophrenic game ranger leading us on through the fine drizzle to the blast of trance music.
“There! Just up ahead.” The guy behind me had his eyes peeled.
Sitting in the headlights, the round-with-ears shape of a rabbit noticed the Ford Ranger bakkie with new death-hungry tires or maybe just the eyes and sounds of death and blinded and suddenly terrified it began bounding off. We bore down on it, accelerating, gaining on it as it sprung for a thicket. The tall grass was getting denser and we followed it with our eyes in its hops appearing just above the grass.
“Oh God!” I yelped.
“Kill it (my king).” She hissed.
It was just in front of us, jumping in zigzags which James predatorily saw through, dodging with the impossible litheness of a talented coloured winger which James, an avid rugby player, possibly followed. We were on it and in the crucial moment James anticipated its step to the right and turned too in a driving tackle.
He stopped the car and got out.
“Did we get it? I asked, getting out of the car too.
“I’m not sure.” He said, walking behind the bakkie, shinning his iPhone torch at the ground.
I followed, scanning the area and seeing nothing. The others had gotten out too and we walked scouring the ground in the hum of the idle engine in fine drizzle lit by the car lights and the torches.
James had gone back to the car and was shining his light by the wheels and under the car.
“You think it could have got mangled up around the axel?”
“Ya and in the wheels. Just check the other side.”
I inspected the wheels and the axels and saw, thankfully, nothing.
We were unsuccessful in our subsequent attempts that night, and we drove away from the misty moor of the abandoned golf course with a lightness of conscience. Perhaps the rabbits and their feet spared us the misfortune of the Shakespearean tragedy we were unable to set in motion.