“Are you coming to see the thunder bunnies?”
“I think I’ve heard of them. What kind of music do they play?”
If Jack hadn’t been so cool, he would have known they weren’t a band. Being oblivious to pop culture was very in just then and he was just that way anyway. He didn’t know when the cool came. He wouldn’t miss it when it left.
Coolness had been uninvited. It confused him. A puzzle, but not one worth solving.
“God, you are just too much,” Micky said, irritation and awe measured equal.
His unaffected obliviousness, anxiety about odd things, and cool all stuck around.
Coincidentally, so did the thunder bunnies.
So, ten years later, Martha McCool (not her real name) invited him. “Hey, Jack. You wanna come see the thunder bunnies?”
“They’re still around? No one ever did tell me what they were. Except not a band.”
“They defy simple explanation. Like you.”
Jack hated things like him. Especially and specifically himself.
He rolled over and she attacked his naked back with skritches and kisses.
“So you’ll go?”
Of course he’d go. In his own way, he loved Martha. A dozen yuppie houses so similar you couldn’t tell them apart, but there was something about her and all the other people he’d loved over the years.
In the stands at the San Quentin stadium, Jack and Martha awaited the event. Jack caught admiring glances. He thought they might be staring at Martha until she went to the restroom and the stares continued.
It reminded him of Micky. Why had a man like Micky loved Jack? A man who could think of his lovers as identical houses with something almost unnoticeablely special to them.
The pre-show bored Jack. Some of the music was alright, but the magic show disappointed them both. Jack grew anxious, worried he wouldn’t feel obligated to even fake amusement for Martha’s sake when the time came.
A hush washed across the audience.
He felt the anticipation leak off the audience like razor-lined kite wire. The stadium lights dimmed and the PA played an ominous throb of bass. The only light in the place came from a few people turning of their mobiles.
The main lights flicked on and the bass cut out. The stadium barely bore the silence.
Jack wondered what they meant him to see. The whole place stood motionless. He could just barely see the wind whip little dust balls on the dry clay dirt.
The little dust clouds grew. They chased one another across the stadium floor, crackling in the quiet.
Soon, the clouds grew large, but they maintained the perilous speed. The crackling grew deep and penetrating.
A cloud chased through the seats opposite Jack and Martha’s. The audience on that side ducked low and screeched.
Jack fought the urge to ask Martha what was going on. A murmur bubbled out of him, but even he couldn’t tell what he’d said. The clouds shrunk a little, but oscillated more rapidly and loudly. Jack could feel their vibration through his lungs and all the dust, smoke, and pollen of thirty years was shook loose and drifted toward his diaphragm.
The bunnies purred and chased all over. Jack’s intestines growled when they passed. It felt like dying and everyone joined in the sweet tantalizing misery.
“Well, what did you think?” Martha asked.
“I don’t really know yet.”
“I figured you’d say that.”
But he had a pretty good idea of what he thought about it. People loved the thunder bunnies for the same reason they liked him. They felt something. It didn’t have to be pleasant, and it wasn’t. It’s just you could feel it.