Purple It Was
a short story by C. G. Huff
2 days before.
“OK, Mr. Rogers, explain to this bunny how we take Barney out,” Elsje said, sniffing her celery before nibbling on it.
“It’s really not all that convoluted,” Mr. Rogers replied, passing her the peanut butter. “Basically, the purple pariah has a show this Saturday night at his Temple of Friendship. Now, I have a gal on the inside who can get you backstage with a VIP pass. Look for a woolly mammoth with periwinkle tusks. The password will be ‘Jurassic prophet,’ so be sure to remember it. Once you’re backstage, head up behind the sound booth. There’ll be a large box on the wall marked ‘authorized personnel only.’ Bring along some hairpins to pick the lock, and make it quick because we don’t know how long you’ll have back there, remember. Now, when you get it open, look for the cord associated with Barney’s mic. It should be there but unplugged. That son-of-a-Rex, pardon my language, will be lip-syncing the solo to his repugnant pop song, and that’s when you’ll strike. What we want is for his mic to go live right when the solo starts. That way, when Barney starts wailing, everyone will hear his actual voice and discover that the whole artist, the whole brand of Barney & Friends, along with its false prophesizing and indoctrination of the masses, has been nothing but a magenta myth. Once the job is done, it’s paramount that you scram as fast as your furry feet will take you. Aaliyah will be waiting outside the Temple in a black Cadillac. Everything should go swimmingly from there on out…”
It was approaching dawn, and the candlelight was slowly becoming obsolete. Elsje, Mr. Rogers, and Aaliyah huddled in the latter two’s treehouse on the eve of “Operation Asteroid.” Mr. Rogers had chosen the plan, Aaliyah had chosen the name, and Elsje… well, Elsje hadn’t chosen much. She owed the couple a favor.
“And not to bring it up again, bunny baby,” Aaliyah purred, breaking the silence in the room, “but you did agree to help us out after we took care of that situation for you. You know, the one with the tire, the whipped cream, the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and the…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…” Elsje interjected, her ears shooting upright. “I get it. Fine. Fuck it. Just make sure you’re there in the car after this escapade is done, alright? There’s no way in hell I’m getting dragged to one of Barney & Friends’ ‘private getaways.’
The day of.
Elsje had to wait until she heard the opening drop of “I Love You” before she could go backstage. Nauseated by the herd of Barney’s soon-to-be new recruits standing around her, the bunny stood at the edge of an undulating crowd. In the beginning, the dinosaur had just been a small-time preacher with a church gone mainstream. Yet from pastor, to pop star, to politician as of late, Barney had become a one-Rex radical whose religion was, as he put it, “all-enfunpassing.” Almost the entire hoi polloi had succumbed to the Jurassic prophet’s preaching of Pretend.
Aaliyah and Mr. Rogers, supposedly dead cultural icons who had recently come out of hiding, were under orders from the regent King Friday to “Change the listeners; smack the bishop.” Because Elsje owed them a favor for that one time with the tire, the whipped cream, the Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and the… well, regardless, the job fell to her, a rabbit who owed her friends a favor.
Scampering across the dance floor through the feet, paws, and claws of the audience, she came upon the Mammuthus primigenius.
“Bonnie?” Elsje inquired.
“Yeah?” Bonnie responded, distracted.
“I’m here regarding a very important Jurassic prophet.”
“Oh… yes. Well, then. Here, take this and hurry the hell up. You’ve only got about a minute and a half left until the solo.”
With her trunk, Bonnie reached behind her ears and presented Elsje with a VIP pass.
“Will do,” Elsje said as she hopped the barrier.
Step 1 complete.
Scurrying up into the rafters, she bounced through the building, a furry shadow amongst the darkness. Fifty seconds in, she discovered the box located in the backstage area’s busiest corridor.
“A distraction,” she thought, perched upon a massive, prop crayon tucked away in the corner. “Otherwise there’s no way I’m getting to that box unseen… Damn it to hell! Why the fuck are there all these stupid ropes up here…”
With twenty seconds left until the solo, an oversized, plasticine crayon came crashing down backstage as a rabbit retreated into the darkness. Gnawed-through ropes hung limp from the ceiling. As the backstage staff scuttled about in the ensuing confusion, Elsje had an easy time pouncing upon the box and defeating the lock. The difficulty lay in the vast array of neon colors presented before her.
“Mother of God,” Elsje muttered, exasperated. “What color belongs to the big, damn dinosaur?”
Scanning over the box, her vision became more akin to a kaleidoscope rather than actual focused perception. This, when there were only five seconds remaining until the solo.
“Well, shit,” Elsje said out loud amongst the oblivious rabble backstage. “If it’s not the purple one, then I am seriously…”
Purple it was.
The morning after.
“Get up, Elsje, get up!”
Aaliyah and Mr. Rogers were leaning over Elsje’s bed trying to shake her awake. She was in the middle of a dream (involving a tire) to which she’d soon rather return.
“Listen, honey,” Aaliyah said hurriedly. “You’ve gotta go. Barney’s Friends are coming for you. They checked the security footage and saw you meddling with the electrical box. Oh lord, Elsje, they beat Bonnie nearly half to death! But don’t you worry about that, just listen. I’ve talked to Tupac, and he knows a guy from the joint who can put you up for awhile on Palmyra Atoll.”
“Where the fuck is that?” Elsje blurted out, wide-awake.
“The Pacific. But you have to go now, dear. We don’t know how soon the lavender limos are going to start showing up, but when they do, you need to be long gone. I’m sorry, bunny baby.”
“You’re going to want to disappear, Elsje,” Mr. Rogers sighed as the bunny tore through her burrow. “Be a different spirit until this blows over. When it does, you know we’ll be here.”
“How do I get there?” Elsje asked, a small trunk in her paws. “To Palmyra Atoll?” Her face was cold and emotionless. There was no time for any of that.
“Tupac is waiting outside. He’ll make sure you get there.”
“Goodbye, Elsje,” Aaliyah said, kissing her between the ears.
“Just get rid of the purple pariah, ok?” Elsje replied, one paw already out the door. “Fucking hate preachers.”
The limos were to appear 15 minutes later, but all their occupants were to find was an empty burrow bereft of any trace as to the bunny’s whereabouts. Barney would have to go down the rabbit hole himself to find her.