Last Week on the Disapprovers: Zeus and Frankie go a stakeout to the lab and keep a close eye on the activities of the laboratory's systems administrator. They discover possible means or pressuring the admin into full cooperation with their plans.
Once Zeus and Frankie returned, we focused on the next big part of the operation, trying to learn more about the private lives of Doctor Mangler and his cohorts. That's what Zeus called him; his words, not mine. We were coming up empty-pawed on the guy. Everything we found was squeaky clean and boring. There were few, work-related posts and connections. It seemed he was really averse to social media, didn't know how to use it, or was plain scared of the computer. That got me thinking. Maybe he wasn't averse or scared of it. Maybe he was treating it with the respect that it deserved. Well, to be honest, I was hoping this lack of a trail would point to his ineptitude. That's what I wanted to confirm with the outing to the doctor's house. It would keep things simple. I volunteered to go with Zeus or Abby. Yeah, Abby and I could handle this on our own.
At first, Zeus was suspicious of my resolve to lead the way on this. He sensed my trepidation. "Neh, Toes, I don't think so. You're up to something. Who's going to go with you?" "Abby," I said curtly.
"Right." said Zeus, and he continued, "Abby, I'm not sure about Toes. I think he's trying to short-circuit something. We need to turn that place upside down if we have to. Remember? How about you two take Bruno with you; he needs an introduction to Singularia anyway." "Why do we need Bruno?" I tried to protest. "Bruno it is, then!" said Zeus.
Just then, Molly hopped over. Somebunny followed her. "Pancake, meet Abby, Zeus, and Mr. Toes. Over there are Frankie, Freddie, Izzy, and Mila. Pancake ... Pancake arrived from a rescue," said Molly.
Abby was first to hop over and extend her paw. We all greeted her, a bit tentatively but with enough courtesy to pass for friendly.
"Hello, Everybunny," said Pancake. "I feel like I interrupted something. Maybe I should come back some other time." "No, not at all. We were just talking about playing bridge. Would you care to join?" asked Molly.
Bridge? What is bridge?
"Sure, I have no idea what 'bridge' is, but if you don't mind teaching me, I would love to join," said Pancake. Of course, Zeus came up with a 52-card deck, and Molly proceeded to give us, I mean Pancake, a lesson on playing bridge. I followed along and tried to look as serious as I could. I mean, this is serious stuff, isn't it? I wondered how Molly knew about bridge? Why bridge and not poker or something? She told me later that back in the WWII days, bridge was the favorite game of the Royal Air Force fighter pilots. As a strategy game, it helped them keep their wits sharp. It had to help them bond, as well. They played paired up against other pairs; in the air, they depended on one another. She discovered it out of sheer historical curiosity.
That's all we did that night. We played and tried to learn about Pancake.
It dawned on me what a genius Molly was. Of course, we had to try to find out what kind of team player Pancake would be. As the night went on, we got know her a lot better, and we grew to like her.
She shared about how her hoomin had died in a car crash. He was pulling out of his apartment complex, trying to make a left turn, and got hit by an SUV. Well, I thought that was extremely unfortunate but not unique. Things like that happen to humans, don't they? She said he was a Vietnam combat vet and told her stories about humans' getting hurt in the jungle, badly hurt. If they made it into the medical helicopter, they would be well, most of the time anyway. Except that one time when she told us the humans carried one of them all night long and put him on the chopper only to find out later that he didn't make it. She started crying. She said, "I don't even know if they sent out a chopper to pick up my human or not."
We sat with her quietly for a long time. I felt a little stupid after that for thinking that what we were doing was the be-all-and-end-all of everything, forgetting that life goes on for every bunny trying to muddle through it as best as he or she can. Here, Pancake was left without her human, and her world was turned upside down. She was a reminder to me to keep things in perspective. She told us how she and her human brainstormed together when working on art projects. They worked on illustrations and graphite drawings, paintings, posters, and such. She liked metalworking and was fascinated by welding and architectural design. My eyebrows stayed raised up all night long. Zeus said that he'd be happy to help her with that if she likes. He said, "Things can be arranged."
So much for my paranoia of the imagined importance of our secrets. We had a new team member, and we were glad. At first, I thought of her as an intruder, a usurper, trying to move in on Suzy's place while her pad was still warm. I was mad at our hoomins for bringing her in so soon. But she was no usurper nor an intruder. She was scared, suddenly orphaned, and left alone; a grieving bunneh that could use a forever home. She had no idea who Suzy was or what we were up to. She deserved to be loved and cared for; maybe she was worried about the "U" word while in the shelter? I didn't know. Then, counting breaths would have a whole new meaning for her, wouldn't it, and not knowing which breath could be the last one.
Funny, a night of playing bridge can wear you out. None of us except Molly had any idea about bridge. Pancake knew it, and she took it in stride and never let us know that.