Skip to content

Rabbit’s Foot

by Donna Obeid

Some of them called him cutie. Some of them called him handsome man. Some of them called him son as his father did, which never felt right. Some of them smelled of cheap orange perfume. Some of them smelled of beer. Some of them smelled of stale cigarette smoke. Some of them smelled of death itself. Some of them were black, some were white, some were something in between, a shade his father called sweet papaya green. Some of them wore cut-offs and cowboy boots, some of them secondhand evening gowns, one wore nothing but a negligee beneath a man’s overcoat that flapped to reveal a bruise like a mishappened heart high on her thigh. Some of them laughed as they drove away in the passenger seat of the battered pick-up truck, some of them closed their eyes, some of them whistled and waved him goodbye, some of them blew him kisses; the woman in the neon blue wig made him promise that he be good and not tell anyone ever about any of this. Some of them took a long while, some of them took no time at all, some of them went until dark came and the wind blew hard, and the boy stood shivering in the fenced yard where he’d been told to wait, out back behind the locked building, once leaping over the fence then promptly returning for fear his father would suddenly appear and beat him for misbehaving. The old dog would come from next door and put his muzzle through the hole in the fence and the boy would find comfort in its gold eyes and the tiny bit of warmth he could touch. 

When his father returned, the boy sometimes found things left behind on the floor of the passenger side. A broken brass hoop. A lipstick tube. A phone number for Shirley scrawled on gum wrapper. A wrinkly nylon. And once, a keychain rabbit’s foot which the boy put in his pocket thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would bring him luck as his father drove them back home, both of them silent, barely ever speaking to each other, the boy keeping his promise to the woman in the blue wig and never telling anyone anything about any of it, not even his own mother.

for B.

Donna Obeid is an award-winning author and educator who has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. Donna earned a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MA and MFA from American University. She grew up in a suburb outside of Detroit, has worked and lived in Southeast Asia and North Africa, and currently lives in Stanford, California.

Lead image: “green single cab pickup truck” (Photo by Brandon Russell on Unsplash)