Things That Go Boom
The rabbit smiles sheepishly which in Jessica’s opinion is a big “don’t” especially if you’re the interviewer.
“- do you have any questions for me?”
Jessica stares at him, as though telepathically sending him a message.
Are you hiring me for my history, Mr. Rabbit?
They say the biggest enemy in changing oneself is the self.
Jessica has no problem with that.
It’s the others that are pissing on her efforts that are the problem.
How can anyone change their lives in peace when other people won’t let them forget what they had been?
Already she had quit on ten consecutive jobs as a secretary due to bosses and/or co-workers whose intentions are below professional. Others tried to bribe her with higher salaries, rank advancements and even blackmail. Most don’t bother when they found out what she was.
It sickens her. Men sicken her. No matter where she went, her past has a way of keeping up behind her like some sleazy stalker.
Jessica shakes her head.
“None, Mr. Rabbit.”
The rabbit grins standing up on his chair (he’s that short) and shakes her hand hard enough to shake her whole arm.
He’s wearing a simple suit for the appointment but has somehow forgotten that he still has a pair of goggles on his forehead. He also looks like he hasn’t slept for weeks judging by the dark circles around his eyes.
“Perfect!” he says, his words pronounced with a lisp, “You can start tomorrow!”
Jessica nods. If he’s just like the rest of them, she can always quit.
Ten down, forty-six papers to go, she thought. Jessica straightens up, sealing the letter of approval.
So far, her office was a spacious spare room right next to the study that looks hardly use. “Looks” is the description because Mr. Rabbit has went upstairs after opening the door for her and hasn’t come down all da-
Dust fell down the ceiling. Jessica found herself gripping the table for support as well as shock.
What on earth?
After the tremors have ended, Jessica stands up and walks outside her office. The clicking of her high heels echo as she strides down the wide hallways and up to a wider staircase.
Yes, Mr. Rabbit lives inside a manor.
“Mr. Rabbit?” she calls out, looking down the hall. Smoke seems to be seems to be seeping out from one of the doors and Jessica opens it.
She covers her mouth and nose as the smoke billows out of the open door. When it seems safe, she walks inside.
The room is huge enough to fit five rooms. Gears, machines and tools fill every nook and cranny that one would have mistaken it for a junkyard if everything weren’t organized in a messy manner.
“Mr. Rabbit? Are you there?” she calls out. Jessica stops as she finds him lying dazed on the rubble.
“Whoo-hoo-hoo!” he giggles in a stunned manner, “Hiya, Jessica!” he says, giving her a dizzy wave.
“Ms. Krupnick,” she corrects, stepping carefully over bits broken machinery, “What happened?”
The inventor stands up shaking the rubble and soot off his fur, “Just some machine that I’ve been tinkering with,” his fluffy cotton tail casually dusts the seat of his pants before looking up to her with a grin, “I’ve been trying to invent an automatic fur-brusher!”
He zips to the table and spreads wide a blueprint.
“Do you know how much of a hassle brushing fur every morning and night? What if there’s a contraption that will do it for you? Step in, step out and you’re done! But before I can step in...” He gestures at what remained of the machine.
“Looks like there’s nothing left to step into,” she comments
Mr. Rabbit murmurs in agreement as he inspects a chunk of metal, “Back to the drawing board then!” He stops and looks at her, “Why are you here? I didn’t disturb you, did I?”
She stares at him. How did he have 75 patents under his name again?
Life as Mr. Rabbit’s secretary is peaceful –as peaceful as it can be with the booming and banging upstairs.
Every morning, Jessica would go to his manor. Mr. Rabbit will open the door for her before disappearing upstairs. Jessica would go to her office and do the paperwork. The day would not be complete without something exploding upstairs.
Mr. Rabbit has offered to soundproof her office but Jessica prefers to know what’s going on upstairs while she’s working. He did quakeproof the office and strengthen the ceiling as she requested.
He has told her to call him Roger but Jessica insists on formalities. The more professional the treatment, the more he will keep away. Just because he hasn’t done anything for now doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about it.
The speaker on her table crackles to life, “Jessica, can you come up here for a sec?”
Jessica sighs and presses a button, “Miss Krupnick,” she says, wondering why she even bothers.
The moment she arrives, Roger tugs her hand inside and pushes a chair behind her. The way he’s hopping up and down like an excited little boy tells her she’s in for a presentation.
“You’re sure this won’t explode in my face?” she asks as Roger places a covered parcel on the table and rolls a recorder nearby.
“Promise!” he says, his long rabbit ears straightening up formally. He reveals the object on the table with a flourish.
On the table stands a pretty little doll. Roger places the pin on the recorder and a soft music ensues. Jessica gasps when the doll moves and begins to twirl gracefully at the music.
“I programmed her to follow the pace and rhythm of the music,” he says. He lifts the recorder’s pin, stopping the music, the doll stops. He lets down the pin, the music plays and the doll continues to dance again. Then he grins.
This time he replaces the vinyl with a song fit for disco. The doll changes the dance fluidly from ballet to boogie.
Jessica pressed her lips to restrain her amusement as she watches the doll dance to the song of “Shake Your Booty”. But then she sees Roger disco dancing to the music too.
A laugh snaps Roger out of his grooving. When he opens his eyes he saw Jessica pressing a hand on her lips. But the way her eyes sparkle tells him she’s smiling. Roger grins. His secretary rarely smiles.
“Just don’t do that in your presentation,” she says, standing up and brushing her office skirt. It’s time to make an appointment with the Board.
Jessica looks back. Roger shuffles his big feet together, his ears swishing sheepishly (Don’t ask her how she knows).
“Do you sing?”
She raises a brow at the question.
Is he going to ask about my past right now?She thought.
Roger gestures at the doll, “Will you sing for her?”
Jessica walks back, “Alright,” she says, “Out of curiosity, why?”
“The doll is programmed to respond to any melody. But whenever I sing to the past models, they always explode on my face!” he exclaims.
Jessica can never tell when her boss is joking or not. At least that would explain the yodelling right before an exploding sound follows.
She sits down at the chair again, “What would you like me to sing, Mr. Rabbit?”
The rabbit shrugs, adjusting the mechanic goggles on top of his head, “Anything that comes to your mind!”
Jessica looks at the toy with a thoughtful expression.
“A dancing doll,” she murmurs.
The secretary clears her throat and hums a slow gentle tune. The doll lifts her head in response.
Encouraged, Jessica sings.
"Shall we dance?"
The doll slowly raises her arms above her head.
"On a bright cloud of music shall we fly?
Shall we dance?
Shall we then say ‘Goodnight’ and mean ‘Goodbye’?”
The toy twirls receptively with her song, her arms sweeping the air before performing a pirouette. Jessica’s eyes lit up with a rare delight.
When the last little star has left the sky-”
Roger stares at her with his mouth hanging open. Jessica’s voice has always sound smooth, deep and clear as glass in his sharp rabbit ears but if sirens truly exist, he must have accidentally hired one.
"-Shall we still be together
With our arms around each other
And shall you be my new romance?”
The doll sweeps across the table in graceful circles and Jessica is in her happy place. She forgets that she’s in a cramped, messy room. She forgets her boss is nearby. She forgets the past that has marked her like some social stigmata.
"On the clear understanding
That this kind of thing can happen-”
All that matters is the melody of the song and the doll seems to express her joy with the arc of her arms and the twirl of her legs.
"-Shall we dance? Shall we dance? Shall we-”
Jessica comes back to earth as she reaches the end. The doll makes a final curtsy and stills. The secretary blinks.
She turns to Roger who is looking at her with an awestruck expression.
“Wow, Jessica!” he says, “That was-”
Jessica does not wait for him to finish his sentence and walks out of the room without another word.
This is going to be awkward, she thinks as she rings the doorbell the next day.
The rabbit opens the door, “’Morning, Jessica!” he chirps cheerfully as though she hadn’t walked out of him yesterday.
“Miss Krupnick,” she corrects without thinking. But Roger is already making his way upstairs.
Jessica sighs and walks to her office. She always prides herself as a professional but what she had done yesterday deserves a severe self-berating. She hates herself for walking out but she also resents him for making her reveal something that is very special to her. There is a line meant to protect her. If this boss of hers keep on touching subjects that means a lot to her, it is only logical to distance herself.
Bullshit, a voice says, he didn’t mean to and you know it.
Jessica frowns and crosses her arms in front of her office blouse, the act squeezing her ample bust. She knows she’s being stupid and stubborn but he made her sing.
You’re the one who let it all out, the voice argues back.
She will admit she missed singing and that moment yesterday was her happiest for weeks. But does she have to show it to the one person that experience told her not to trust?
Jessica sighs and looks at the window, particularly the glass as she comes into a realization.
I’m angry at me.
She takes a deep breath and stands up. The professional side of her takes the helm.
Apologize and get it over with.
But first she needs an excuse to go upstairs.
Coward, the voice sneers.
Jessica pokes her head inside the room. She shuffles the papers that he has to sign before stepping inside.
Roger’s head pops out from one of the hidden sections in the room.
She shows the papers, “These are needed to be signed by you right now.”
An utter lie but it’s for the professional good. Roger doesn’t seem to think much about it though.
“Okay!” he disappears inside the section, “Hold on a sec!”
Jessica steps closer and sees a sewing machine and some newly assorted doll clothes.
“You can sew?” she asks without thinking.
“Yup,” Roger answers, bending over the papers, “She’s gonna need to look good if she’s going on a presentation with the Board!”
She figures she might as well get into his good side before apologizing.
“So how long did it take you to make one?”
Roger doesn’t look up as he signs the papers, “I lost count after 1,632 tries.” And 104 models but she doesn’t need to know that.
Jessica almost drops the fountain pen she’s holding, “What?”
He gives out a goofy chuckle at her reaction, “Jeepers! What do you know about me anyway?”
She looks at him, trying to figure out his game.
“You’re Roger Rabbit, the inventor of 51 toys, 20 gag products and four fair rides. They are all under patent which is in high demand, your inventions also got the attention of various elite science organizations and there are big companies vying for your contract.”
This, Jessica thinks, is why he needs a secretary in the first place.
Roger gives back the papers to her, “I’m not smart,” he answers baldly.
Jessica raises a brow at that. She figured the not-smart thing in the first three days when she caught him peeking into a cannon –a loaded cannon with a lit end which was inside this room, by the way.
He gestures at the junk inside the room, “I just make a lot of mistakes until I get it right.”
That would explain the explosions.
What kind of a person would still persist? she thought.
Jessica asks, “But a thousand tries?”
Roger shrugs, dusting his overalls, “I’m stupid that way. But...” he snaps his goggles back on his forehead and gives her a big grin that she is becoming familiar with, “It’s worth the laugh!”
Jessica stares at him. That would also explain why all of his inventions are for fun. She walks out, forgetting what she came for in the first place.
Jessica looks up and rolls her eyes. She’s thankful the room is fortified not to shake from the tremors of the explosion but still...
She walks down the familiar hallway and into the elevator (Roger has shown her where) thinking about the eccentricities of her boss.
Roger Rabbit is definitely not a mad scientist or a suave intellect. He’s just himself. Unlike Acme products for practical jokes, he invents things with the fullest intention of making people laugh –not to make fools of others.
He lives in a manor probably because of the strong structure but never has servants. Therefore, Jessica always hires a cleaning crew every week to make it presentable. He gave her her own key which in Jessica’s opinion is too much trust in his part. Roger also makes sure that she leaves by five o’clock saying it’s not safe for a lady to go home at night.
Much to Jessica’s relief, he never made a move on her nor did he ever try to hit on her. Perhaps he’s one of those anthromorphs who prefer similar animals like themselves over humanoids.
Jessica opens the door and holds out a fire extinguisher. Seeing nothing burning, she walks inside.
When the dust settles in, she puts a hand on her hip.
“One of these days, I’m going to find you in pieces.”
Roger giggles in a dazed manner, covered with soot.
“That happened to me once when I got hit by my own Colour Separator Gun,” he sits up on the ground, resting on his elbows, “Because of my white fur I got split into seven rabbits for every colour of the rainbow,” he ticks his fingers, “Do you know I’m loud, talkative and five adjectives of ‘annoying’? Indigo Roger and Violet Roger kept arguing who’s who.”
Jessica answers by emptying the fire extinguisher on him.
The rabbit yelps as white fluffy foam engulfs him. When his vision clears, he sees Jessica in front of him with her hands akimbo.
“I’m serious, you should be more careful.”
Roger finally stands up; wiping the foam from his red overalls, “Don’t worry about me-”
“I’m not worried about you, I’m worried about the manor collapsing on top of me,” Jessica snaps.
The rabbit blinks before grinning. Jessica presses her lips together against a forming smile, she can never be as funny as Roger but she can try –even if she’s mad.
“No, really,” he says, thumping himself on the chest, “I heal fast and I can take a hit. Ask my childhood bullies if you don’t believe me!”
It’s nice that she understands Roger more than before. But with that understanding is hand-in-hand with a deeper responsibility. She turns at her heel.
“Just be more careful, Roger,” she says before she stops, realizing the last word that came out of her mouth.
Jessica walks out of the room missing the surprised look on Roger’s face.
Jessica readies her purse as the hour hand ticks nearer to five o’clock. She knocks at his workroom door.
When nobody answers, she opens the door and look around. There on the wooden boards, is a white rabbit gently snoring and cuddling a wrench like it’s a teddy bear.
Jessica shakes her head. Looks like all those coffees has worn off. When an idea gets inside he’s head, he’s too excited to think about anything else. Hence his skinny figure and the dark circles around the eyes.
She tiptoes quietly across the room and opens a drawer. Finding a comforter, she walks back to his sleeping form.
The blanket billows as she opens it wide and let it gently settle over him. Crouching down, she takes a good look at the sleeper.
Jessica always has to make him promise to eat and sleep. It’s not in her job description but what the heck. She’s doing this because he’s her source of income.
Or so she tells herself.
Her finger traces a line on one floppy rabbit ear, her lips forming into a smile at the touch of soft fur. She hastily removes her finger when he stirs. But he only snuggles deeper into the blanket.
A door creaks and Roger sleepily opens his eyes. He sees a familiar silhouette on the doorframe before his eyelids became heavy again.
“Goodnight, Roger,” the silhouette says softly.
The speaker on her table crackles to life, “Jessica, will you come over here for a moment?”
The secretary good-naturedly rolls her eyes. Roger always uses her as an initial audience whenever he thinks an invention is ready.
When she opens the door, she’s surprised to see its dark inside the room. She steps back quickly. There was a time her ex-boss called her and when she opened the door of his office, he tried to grab her.
“Roger?” she calls out tentatively.
His voice sounds out.
Jessica folds her arms across her chest, “There is no way I’m going inside there. What happened to the lights?” she asks. If he’s finally showing his true colours...
A light begins to glow inside the room. Then it floats nearer and nearer until she can see Roger bounding excitedly towards her.
“I turned it off! Come on!” he says grabbing her hand and pulling her inside.
Jessica stiffens at the contact but obliges. She looks at the floating globe of light that seems to be following Roger everywhere.
Roger flicks on a machine that looks like a bubble maker. A bubble begins to form on the spool.
“Can I have a strand of your hair?” he asks.
Jessica twists a ginger strand around her finger and snaps it off her head. She gives it to Roger’s outstretched hand that places it on top of the bubble.
The hair melds and enters into the bubble before it begins to glow. It floats and flits right beside Jessica, bathing her with a soft light.
“It’s a glowing plasma bubble that follows anyone with the given DNA,” Roger explains.
Jessica stares in awe at the glowing orb. Did Roger just tell her he’s not smart? She cups the orb and it hovers a few millimetres from her palms, illuminating her face with its soft glow.
“Wow,” she whispers.
Roger smiles at her reaction. Jessica is calm and confident, the very posture of a strong woman. However, it’s also a posture of a guarded one.
But when she looks like that, Roger’s smile softens; the mask, shield and armour would all slip away and Roger can see her as she is.
Jessica turns to him with a cool, slightly sarcastic and disbelieving smile, her armour on again.
“Are you sure you’re not smart?”
The rabbit laughs off her question and flicks open the lights. It took him three years to figure out how to make a plasma bubble and five years to make it accept a strand of hair. Making it attracted to a mass of matching DNA took him seven years. Throughout the process, it almost took down half of the manor twice, made him deaf for weeks and several other blow-ups.
But after seeing the expression on her face, it was all worth it.
“Puh-puh-puh-lease Jessica!” Roger cries, his yellow work gloves scrabbling the door frame, “Just let me give it one more try then I’ll come down! I promise!”
Jessica pulls him by the ears with one hand, “No.”
With a final yank she frees the door frame from the rabbit and ignores the elevator.
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” he exclaims as his butt hits every step of the long marble staircase.
“But I’m not yet hungry!”
Jessica gives him a look.
“Alright! I was! Last night and this morning but it went away! I’ll just eat when I feel hungry again!”
His secretary looks up as though asking heaven itself about an enigma that defies all laws of logic. She lifts him up by the ears with one hand to face him.
“You are not going to die on me from bulimia. Who’s going to give me my monthly pay checks if you croaked?” she asks.
“Oh yeah?” Roger says, letting himself dangle in the air. He crosses his arms and gives her a hard look, “Then as your boss, I demand you to put me down and let me work in peace!”
A very loud gastric rumbling stuns them both to silence.
Jessica starts to drag him again as they enter the dining room, “Objection overruled.”
Realizing he’s defeated, he might as well push a few buttons.
“Don’t worry, Jessica. I know you care –OW!” he yells in the end as Jessica yanks him up and plops him into the seat.
Roger still has his arms crossed as he pouts at her childishly.
Jessica suppresses a grin. This is the guy whom engineers speak in awe of.
Right now, she has heated some carrot soup before dragging him here. She had also hired a cook to make enough food for a week that he can heat again if he’s hungry. She puts a bowl of soup on the table for him along with her packed lunch.
Roger looks at her in surprise. Even when he eats in the dining room, Jessica opts to eat in her office.
Jessica answers the unasked question, “It’s to supervise you,” she might as well turn the conversation to more pleasant subjects.
“You’re accepting their contract?” she asks.
The rabbit’s mood instantly changes. Roger nods enthusiastically, “Yeah! Mickey’s an old pal of mine!”
Having just read the letter, Roger has sent off a speedy response. Mickey plans to build an amusement park in honour of his creator that in Jessica’s opinion is endearing but far-fetched.
“He plans to build it on that old dump,” she points out.
Roger shakes his head, rabbit ears trailing with the movement.
“You’re not getting it, Jessica,” he says, “Just look at the biiiig picture!” he spreads his arms wide as though attempting to frame a vision.
“Castles and rides and bringing all those Disney movies we love out of the screen and into this kingdom where you can live it!”
Jessica stares at him.
“It will be fun!” he says as though that point finalizes the decision.
It took them 5 years to create Disneyland. People from all parts of the globe came to experience the magic. Mickey was happy to honour his father and creator with something as grand as him.
Roger and Jessica sit on a balcony above the crowds as the parade comes in. The cool night air blows Jessica’s hair making her shiver. Roger offers her his coat and Jessica accepts. For some reason, Roger always wears coat sizes that are meant for humans. Jessica suspects why but doesn’t say anything. At least they fit her. Neither said a word as they lean on the balcony, enjoying the night.
“Can you sing that song again?” Roger asks quietly.
Jessica looks at him and she can see him looking up the stars. She smiles in understanding and sings softly.
"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it go away. Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.
Save it for a rainy day.”
Fireworks boom and splash the night sky with colours. Jessica’s heart leaps.
"When love came by and taps you on the shoulder some starless night.”
Their hands are merely a hairbreadth away from each other. Roger stiffens when he feels a warm hand place over his. He looks at Jessica but she has her eyes close, enjoying the song.
"And just in case you feel you want to hold her"
Roger is glad it’s dark outside because he can feel his face go hot up to the ends of his rabbit ears. He relaxes and links his pink over her pinkie, looking up to the sky again.
Jessica opens her eyes at the act and smiles down at Roger who smiles shyly back.
"You’ll have a pocketful of starlight."
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