Ronald Reagan loved poop. No kidding. Out of the almost 1000 inhabitants of our farm, he absolutely demolished the little black orbs—pellets were apparently not as delicious, or perhaps too hard on the teeth. We’ll never know. Reagan, as we called him, was a bullying coward, a born performer. He would press his white ears back and move in on his inmates. His face would curl inwards and his tail would point up. He’d face his opponents and pose his attack, which seldom happened. Nobody would fight him, certainly not over poop. For all his pugnacity, Reagan was kind of cute, always with a twitching nose, crinkled face and a strange set, a kind of pull around his mouth that made him look as if he were smiling. But at night, Reagan was the spookiest of them all. He would back himself into a corner, far away from the others. When the moon shone through the high mounted windows, his white fur would sparkle and his gleaming red eyes switched to a diamond black. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange we left Reagan alone.
Every morning, my uncle Ahmed would select mates of his who were ready for the market. He’d open the cages and grab them one by one. He’d snap a rubber band around their legs and dangle them from little hooks suspended on a mobile clothes rack. He didn’t miss a beat, didn’t hesitate. With a hand over the head, his incision was expertly precise and sharp. If we saw a rough cut, we knew my nan Mounira, may Allah have mercy upon her soul, had made a sneaky visit. We’d hear a stomping and thumping, a snorting and a growling. A loud hissing and teeth grinding with a kind of vibration that is meant to stop you. This always worked on me, as if they were crying: ‘Wait! I love you! Don’t kill me!’ But my uncle must have had wax in his ears. He went straight for the throat. ‘You must cut the artery clean across.’ Indeed, nothing’s worse than a creature left half-dead, bleeding and kicking—and screaming. The screaming was the worst. It sent chills down my spine every single time. It sounded eerily like a child setting eyes on a ghost. You see, rabbits only scream before death.
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