The Buster Bunny Blunder
By Audrey W.
Johnny got up off the couch and turned off the television set. “Okay, kids. . .you know what time it is. . .”
“Dessert!” Jennifer and Chris DeSoto both answered.
“Well, that’s not the answer I had in mind, but I guess a little dessert before bed won’t hurt.”
The dark-haired paramedic was babysitting the DeSoto children while Roy and his wife, Joanne, had a night out enjoying dinner and a movie. Things had gone surprisingly well with the kids, as they minded Johnny and didn’t try to get away with anything.
“So, whata’ya kids want? Cookies and milk?”
“Ice cream!” Jenny exclaimed.
Six-year-old Chris agreed with his younger sister. “Yeah, ice cream!”
“Okay, you two go get your pajamas on and I’ll dish it up. That way all’s you’ll haveta’ do is brush your teeth afterwards.”
“Okay!” Both kids chimed in. Chris led the way up the steps to their bedrooms, while his four-year-old sister did her best to keep up with him. Johnny watched as they reached the top and disappeared down the hallway.
“I hope they can sleep with a little sugar in their systems.”
Gage went into the kitchen and opened the freezer. Expecting to find a variety of flavors of ice cream with a family of four, he was surprised when he found only one. One plain. . .
Vanilla? Who in their right mind only has a boring flavor like vanilla . . .?
“Roy,” Johnny said, answering his own thoughts as he nodded his head. “Man, Roy. . .surely you gotta have somethin’ to put on it.”
He opened the refrigerator and began searching for some kind of ice cream topping. He was just about to give up when he saw it sitting in a yellow box with flower print and a cellophane cover. Chris’s chocolate Easter rabbit. Roy had told Johnny that they bought both kids chocolate rabbits every Easter as a tradition, but that Chris would never eat his. The younger paramedic couldn’t understand buying one if it was just going to get tossed out after a few months, but when he voiced that opinion to Roy, he got a look that gave him the feeling he didn’t know half of what it was about.
Johnny took the boxed bunny out of the refrigerator and placed it on the counter.
“It’s been a week since Easter. I hate to tell ya this, Peter,” he said, reading the name off the box, “but if no one has eaten you yet, your next stop is gonna be the trash can. But don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. . .”
Realizing he was just talking out loud to the rabbit, Gage blushed slightly and looked around. He was relieved the kids hadn’t come back down yet.
That’s all I’d need is for them to hear me talkin’ to food.
Johnny opened a lower cupboard and got out a saucepan. After placing it on one of the front burners of the stove, he opened the bunny box and put the chocolate critter into the pan. Turning on the heating element, he watched as the brown substance began to soften. The yellow and blue candy eyes stared up at him, and the orange candy carrot the rabbit held was still on its belly.
Gage stirred the thick melted chocolate, glancing at his watch. Although it hadn’t been very long since he started this project, he was sure the kids should be in their pajamas by now. Removing the saucepan from the heat, he went into the livingroom and yelled up to Chris and Jenny from the bottom of the staircase.
“You two ready for bed yet?”
“Just a minute!” came Jennifer’s reply.
“She’s goin’ to the bathroom!” Chris supplied, much to his sister’s dismay.
Johnny glanced at his watch again. Maybe I should’ve told them they just had to go to bed. Oh well. . .too late now. I’d hate to disappoint ‘em.
Going back into the kitchen, the paramedic took the ice cream out of the freezer and began to scoop some into two small bowls. Catching a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, he looked over to see Roy standing just inside the kitchen.
“Roy! You’re home early!”
The blond paramedic folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the door frame.
“They talked you into dessert, huh?”
“Yeah. Actually, they didn’t have to do much talking,” he explained. “It’s okay, isn’t it?”
“Sure. It’d be better if they had it sooner than this, but there’s no school tomorrow. It shouldn’t be a problem.
“Good. They’ve been great today, Roy. You’ve got two bright kids there.”
DeSoto nodded and grinned. “Hey, what do you expect? They’re my kids.” He stepped over near the stove and peered into the saucepan. “What’re you mak . . .ing? You didn’t.”
Roy stared at the yellow and blue eyes, along with the candy carrot floating in the chocolate. “You melted Buster?”
“Buster?” Johnny shook his head. “His name was Peter. I didn’t see any Buster.”
“Buster is the name Chris gave him.” Roy glanced at the doorway, then back to his partner. “He’s gonna throw a fit when he finds out.”
“Ah, he’s probably forgotten the rabbit, Roy,” Gage said, waving off DeSoto’s worry. He grinned. “Now there’s a good name for a rabbit. . .Roy.” Seeing he didn’t humor his friend, the younger man continued. “When’s the last time he even looked at it?”
“Well, if you’d had something other than vanilla ice cream in the freezer. . .”
Both men exchanged glances in a panic when they heard the children in the livingroom with their mom.
“I’ve gotta stall ‘em,” Roy said, turning for the doorway.
“Stall ‘em? Till when? Next Easter?”
“Well, whataya want me to do? I can’t put the rabbit back how it was.”
“Get another chocolate rabbit.”
“Now?” Johnny asked in a hushed tone so the kids wouldn’t hear. “Where am I gonna find a chocolate rabbit now? It’s a week after Easter.”
“Just start going store to store.”
Gage pointed at the clock. It was already 8:35 pm. “Roy. . .”
Following his friend’s cue, the older man shrugged. “Some stores are open till at least nine or so. Just drive till you find something that’s open.”
Johnny sighed as he took his car keys out of his pocket. “I guess it’s the least I can do to keep Chris from going off the deep end on ya since I melted the rabbit.”
“Buster,” Roy corrected.
His partner glanced over his shoulder and gave a slight grin. “Buster. Right.”
Roy went into the livingroom as Joanne was ushering the kids towards the kitchen to get their dessert.
“Yum! I smell chocolate!” Jennifer exclaimed.
“Uh. . .you kids can’t go in there right now,” Roy said, sounding more anxious than he wanted to.
“How come, Dad?” Chris wondered.
“Uh. . .well. . .Johnny messed up with the chocolate.” There. He hadn’t had to lie.
Do you always have to push it, Chris? Roy turned both kids around and began ushering them towards the front door. “He was going to do hot fudge sundaes for you, but he. . .uh. . .burned the chocolate. So your mom can take you both to Dairy King.
“DairyKing?” Joanne asked. “At this hour?”
“Sure,” her husband said, forcing a smile. “Johnny said they’ve been good. So it’s my treat.” He pulled out his wallet and opened it, taking out a five dollar bill. He handed that and the car keys to Joanne, and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “Have fun.”
“Roy. . . ?”
“But, Daddy, we’re in our jammies!” Jennifer exclaimed, puzzled that her dad seemed to not notice.
Roy continued to prod them towards the front door. “Well, you two wait in the car while mommy gets the ice cream.”
“Roy. . .” Joanne began again.
“Et-gay em-thay out-ay of-ay e-thay ouse-hay, now,” He said in a hushed, but firm, tone. He opened the front door and forced another smile. “Trust me.”
With the three family members out of the house, Roy closed the door and sighed. He hoped Johnny could find another chocolate rabbit.
Joanne stood staring at the closed door a moment.
Johnny burned the chocolate? What chocolate?
She shrugged. Maybe it was better she not know the details. Sensing two sets of eyes staring up at her, she looked down and smiled.
“Well, let’s go get us some ice cream.”
“Yay!” Both kids hollered. Their dad’s strange behavior was forgotten as they both tried to decide what kind of ice cream they wanted. Neither of the three noticed Johnny’s Land Rover missing.
Going into the kitchen again, Roy looked over at the saucepan on the stove.
Who in their right mind would ever think of melting a chocolate Easter bunny down to pour over ice cream?
“Johnny," Roy said, answering himself. “His right mind is usually in left field.”
Having no luck at the first stop, Johnny hurried into the second store he came to that was open. His eyes darting around the room, he noticed a small section with a sign above it.
The paramedic crossed his fingers as he headed over to the area. The items on the shelf were in disarray. First glance didn’t reveal a chocolate bunny anywhere. Determined not to have to drive any farther, Johnny started shifting things this way and that, in search of a rabbit.
He frowned as he came up empty handed. Johnny started dejectedly for the front of the store.
Why did Roy have to have plain ol’ boring vanilla ice cream in the first place?
On his way through the building, Gage caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. Stopping suddenly, he looked at an abandoned shopping cart sitting in the middle of the aisle. There was a chocolate bunny that was exactly like Chris’s.
“All right! Good deal!”
Johnny picked up the rabbit in the box and noticed the price was only ten cents.
Hey, that’s even better. This is only gonna cost me a dime.
The paramedic purchased the candy and headed right back to the DeSoto house. He wondered just how Roy had planned on stalling the kids, but hoped however he did it, that it worked.
Joanne sat in the car eating ice cream with her two children. They made it to Dairy King ten minutes before it closed. The mother wondered what in the world really happened to make her husband revert to Pig Latin and send the three of them out the door.
I guess it must have been important.
She handed napkins to each of the kids, amused at the chocolate that was around their mouths.
“Pretty nice of your daddy to treat us to ice cream, wasn’t it?”
“Yep,” Chris agreed with his sister. “Whatta we gotta do now?”
“What do you mean, Chris?”
“Whenever dad does this kind of stuff, we owe ‘im help with somethin’ at home,” the boy answered matter-of-fact. “So whata we gotta do?”
“Nothing,” Joanne answered. “This was just a treat.”
Chris eyed her suspiciously.
“What’s that look for?”
“Oh, I was just thinkin’. Dad surprised you, too, so how do ya know it’s just a treat?”
“I just know these things, Chris.”
The boy shrugged. “If you say so.” He went back to eating his ice cream, as if the conversation had never taken place.
As he pulled the Rover up to the DeSoto house, Johnny noticed that Joanne’s station wagon was gone.
Hey, I hope Roy didn’t leave too. How will I get in?
He parked the Land Rover on the side of the street in front of the house. Getting out, he hurried around back to the kitchen door. Johnny knocked twice, relieved when Roy answered.
“Did you find one?”
Johnny smiled. “Roy, did you have any doubts? Of course I found one.” He handed the boxed chocolate bunny to the older man.
Roy took the candy in one hand and walked over to the refrigerator. He opened the appliance to put the bunny inside, when he noticed something was wrong.
“What?” Johnny asked, closing the backdoor behind him.
“The rabbit. It’s cracked in half.”
Gage peered closely at the chocolate candy critter. “It must’ve been like that when I got it. I was in too big of a hurry to check.”
Roy stared at his partner.
“Oh no,” Johnny said, raising both hands up in front of himself. “Look, it was the last one. There’s nothin’ we can do. Besides,” he snorted, “it’s in better shape than that one,” he said pointing to the saucepan. The look he got in return made him want to disappear.
“Chris is never going to go for it.”
“Roy, just tell ‘im you bumped the box getting the milk out, and it fell on the floor and cracked.”
“That might work. I guess even I’d believe that one.”
“Yeah?” Gage grinned, proud of his own solution when Roy agreed. “Well, good deal then. We’re set.”
A short time later Joanne and the children came home. As they entered into the livingroom, they saw Roy and Johnny sitting on the couch watching TV. The mother raised an eyebrow in question.
“So did you two enjoy the peace and quiet while we were out?” She asked, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
Roy sensed he’d be explaining later why he sent her out with the kids while he stayed home and relaxed. It was either that or sleep out with the dog in his house for sure.
“Sorry about burning the chocolate,” Johnny said sheepishly. “You know me . . . if it’s not hamburgers or hot dogs, it’s hopeless.”
“But what choc--”
“Hey, but he did great with Chris and Jennifer, didn’t he?” Roy interrupted before Joanne could say anymore.
“Yes, he did. And speaking of,” she said, looking down at the two, “you both need to brush your teeth again and get to bed.”
“Ah, Mo-om,” the boy whined.
“Okay,” he said, dejectedly.
As the two children started up the stairs, Roy got up off the couch and walked over to Joanne. “Doesn’t Chris need to say goodnight to Buster?”
She shook her head. “On the way home, he said he wanted to give the chocolate rabbit to you. A treat for a treat,” she said shrugging.
Johnny sat with his mouth open while Joanne left a surprised Roy standing in the middle of the room. The blond man watched his wife go up the staircase, then turned to Gage.
“Do you believe that?”
“At least you didn’t have to go rabbit hunting all over town.”
“Now I’ve got one glob of chocolate and one busted Buster Bunny.” He stood thinking a minute then asked, “Want half of the cracked one?”
Johnny shook his head. “No thanks. I’ve had enough fun with chocolate tonight.”
“You’ve. . .? “
“But I’ll eat the eyes.”
The two men headed for the kitchen.
“You know, Roy, you really ought to learn more about kids. It’d save us both a lot of hassles.”
“Just go get your eyes,” DeSoto said, following his partner into the kitchen. Next Easter we’re sticking to Jelly Beans and colored eggs.
Thanks to Kenda for the beta read and to Becca for supplying the Pig Latin info. :o) Dairy King was a real ice cream place we went to as kids, I just borrowed the name. Also, my sister and I really melted down a chocolate bunny one Easter. :o)
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