A Murderous Story From The Kills’ Jamie Hince: Rabbits In The Orchard

In our latest piece of Halloween fiction from Domino Records, Jamie Hince of The Kills tells a dark tale of cuteys wootsy ickle bunny wabbits...

Rabbits In The Orchard


By Jamie Hince

£2 rabbits caused me a great deal of trouble in those days. They made me so mad. That was back when a whole lot of things would make me mad, and those £2 rabbits, well they made me the maddest of all, with their hopping and trembling and twitchin’. As white as bridesmaids in the snow they were, with little pink button eyes and all shaking in their little rabbit skins. Oh my… they smelled just like Christma.. If you smothered your face with one of them you could just about smell the damp cardboard and diesel oil from Old Bowery’s car yard where they’d lived out the first few weeks of their little rabbit lives. They’d make your whole hand stink lovely. A blend of anti-septic and warm milk mixed with the soft waft of sugary perfume and powder where Old Bowery’s three boney daughters, up to their necks in lace, had lifted them and petted them and kissed their little two quid rabbit heads…. God, that smell… it just about made your groin dizzy.

Now, Old Bowery’s boney daughters loved rabbits more than anything else in the whole wide world, and Old Bowery, well he loved boney daughters more than anything else in the whole wide world, so he wound up loving rabbits too. It used to be dogs and before that it was gymnastics. But now it was rabbits…

Back in those days, whilst I was blessed with a courage that far outweighed the broad shoulders of other boys my age, I was, it must be said, too small and sickly a child to carry out many of the physical duties around the car yard. Instead, I was afforded the more modest, the more subtle of jobs. As Old Bowery liked to call them, "the very champion of tasks". Tending to the rabbits; cleaning the cardboard box when it was soiled, issuing rabbit meals twice a day and, most important of all, the responsibility of administering love and affection upon their little rabbit heads.

Before he towed broken cars about the place and cut up railway sleepers with oxy-cetalene torches, (and loved daughters and rabbits)… long, long before all that… Mr Bowery used to be a singer and a banjo player in a working men’s band. Whenever he opened his mouth to sing it sounded as if his bones were about to come out right through his neck. Stomping and pounding the floorboards and thumping like a broken sail…. "Aaaint got no sugaaarrrrr baaaaybeeee now… got no honeeey baaaaybee now". I swear, he’d rattle the ice right out of your glass.

That was in the days before he met Mrs Gloria Bowery. Mrs Bowery didn’t have much care for singers and banjo players whose bones came out through their skin when they sang. Nor did she care all that much for boney daughters… or for dogs or gymnastics for that matter. She did however share a certain… labour of love for rabbits and as it would turn out, it was those six shaking rabbits that caused us the biggest labour of all.

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Now, I’ve always thought it the oddest of things that in this whole strange episode I have never once been able to conjure up a single memory with regard to the death of those six little things. Not a single one. Certainly, and at the drop of a hat, with great pride I can regurgitate precise and miniscule details about almost everything else that occurred in those days. Details concerning every aspect of every hour of every day in fact (and might I say, I have done this thoroughly and consistently right up to the very moment in time I find myself at now). How quickly and easily I can bore the socks of Grandfather clocks with facts and figures, names and dates such as these… But, for the life of me, no matter how painstakingly I set my mind to it, I cannot recall even the vaguest jot about the killing of those six little rabbits. Not. A. Jot. I know now, without a shadow of a lie that it was I who committed the act. Of this there can be no doubt. Who else would have had the skill and foresight to have chosen such a perfect and splendid spot for their burial? Twenty paces north, thirteen paces east… turn to the left… again to the right, and finally, to the count of ten, walk toward the church steeple… far, far into the orchard, I had laid them to rest with great care and attention beneath the one and only famous cherry blossom tree. The most favourite tree of mine in the whole stupid orchard… No one else could have thought up such a plot. No one. But, as for the crime itself? To this day, I remain completely and utterly lost in the dark, unable to muster up the slightest memory…

There had been a great deal of idiotic speculation about those vanishing rabbits in the days that followed. Granted, this is only to be expected when travesties of this nature occur. But, it was the subsequent disappearance of dear Mrs Bowery following the unfortunate incident that eclipsed everything else in its wake and set the towns tongues wagging in the most epic of proportions. Without exaggeration I tell you, this single event had made a most profound impact upon the whole town. Old Mr Bowery and his three boney daughters had, in particular, taken the vanishing of Mrs Bowery extraordinarily badly. Desperately withdrawn, they had fallen victim to a deep melancholy that grew and grew as the days went on without any news. Hours melted into days and days turned to weeks until there were no more Wednesdays or Fridays or Saturday weekends, just a long string of yesterdays and tomorrows with no end at all. As I have said, there are times when I am not without sensitivity. So, without fear or embarrassment, I can tell you Mrs Bowery’s disappearance had made a profound impact on my own wellbeing and had begun to play a foul and black concerto upon my very own heartstrings.

Once again I tell you, I have never been one to harbor these sorts of sentimental trivialities very often, but, on this occasion I recall, even my cold heart had been struck with a warmth that rendered me silent at the sight of the boney girls dressed in Mrs Bowery’s ugly cardigans, the ones she had knitted two Christmases ago, vainly searching the fields and hedgerows for their poor dear mother… as pink as a cat’s yawn those cardigans were, with little white kisses in cross stitch all along the neck-line. I tried with great skill and patience to lift up their spirits with Christmas songs to compliment their attire and on occasion scraped my knees raw with lighthearted acrobatics in an attempt to raise a smile, but to little avail. I had even taken it upon myself to carry out the most mundane of chores around the house and in the car yard. Chores for which I received not a single extra penny I might add.

One thing I must make clear is this; I never despised Mrs Bowery. Not exactly. I knew then, as I know now, that the whole picture is only as rotten as the eye that beholds it. And back then, on my life I admit it, my eyes were as filthy rotten as an eye can be. As rotten as a rats’ graveyard. To tell the truth, I loved Mrs Bowery deeply. I loved her with an agony and a hopelessness that had infected my entire soul and I cursed myself over and over for the torment it brought me. She had that intoxicating cocktail of sensibilities that damn near turned your insides out and made ordinary men do absurd things. I myself on many occasions had dreamt of immortalising her countenance with canvas, brush and oils, if only I had been furnished with the meagrest of artistic talents. She presented such a picture.

At first I began to dream of Mrs Bowery nightly and she would appear distraught and devilish. So overpowering were the visions that I would wake myself a dozen times or more during sleep, sweating and shaking like a beaten dog. Each night, as the curse of sleep drew nearer and nearer, I found myself gripped by the deep fry of panic that hissed uncontrollably within my bones. That one diabolical thought night after night; that once again my dreams would be poisoned by the nightmarish horror of Mrs Bowery’s vanishing act .

As the days ticked on, the visions began to present themselves more and more frequently and in ever more violent manifestations. At times they would send my body into such terrible convulsions that I could no longer leave my bedroom. Before long I could hardly even dare to blink my eyes for fear that Mrs Bowery’ s ghost would be there as if etched onto my eyelids.

On the last night of my torment a strange thing occurred. It had been some seven years or more since Old Bowery had lifted his banjo to his knee and opened up his throat in song. But on this night, in the distance I could hear the pluck and twang of Old Bowery’s potato-fingers playing for all his life was worth. And then after a few minutes, that unmistakable voice of thunder, ever more deathly, ever more haunted since now, he truly had lost his dear old sugaaar babeeeeey now… After a while I began to hear the clack of drums…. prrrrrrtt-putt. prrrrrtt-putt… and then nearer and nearer, as if half a dozen marching, drumming soldierboys were on the approach, pounding their sticks down heavy upon the skins in a tattoo of deafening heart beats……… on and on… faster and faster.. louder and louder still until my eyelids flinched and shuddered at every beat, and with every beat a new and grotesque vision of Mrs Bowery’s spectre flashed before my eyes… rat-a-pat-a-BOOM-BOOM-a-boom-boom…a-boom-boom..a-boom-boom… and so on and so forth, louder and louder until I could shut it out no more and no longer could I tell where drum-beat ended nor where vision began…

So disturbing had the visions become by now that I began to yelp at the appearance of each one. At each blink I tried to reduce their impact oh so slightly by moving my head skillfully and abruptly from side to side, thus blurring the visions in an effort to dampen the agony within the pit of my stomach…. But soon, very soon even this proved useless and once again the crack of drums escalated louder and the violent visions grew ever more monstrous as if I were seeing before me the most murderous flick-book of horrors imaginable.

At first my breathing grew heavier and heavier still, until it was no longer a breath at all, but an audible croak with no soft whispery edges to it whatsoever. By now I was hardly even occupying my own brains and body anymore. The sensation had grown so acute that I became paralysed by the certainty that I was now witness to my own downfall.

Gradually… very gradually… breath begat croak and croak begat moan. Moan begat wail begat scream begat holler until my whole body convulsed with every beat and my cries had turned to a wretched moan and then a kind of wailing out of which words began to form. Before long a crowd had gathered outside my window, curious as to the origins of these hideous cries. I had lost all control of my brains and body and found myself weeping uncontrollably, crying her name as if poisoned… "GLORIA! GLOOORIA…!! … I CONFESS…. I CONFESS !!!…..DIG UP THE ORCHARD !… TEAR UP THE SOIL !!!… I CONFESS !!! " … Just pleeease stop the hideous pounding…

… And so I was caught… In my own rotten engine.

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