Convulsions in Rabbits - By Brian Law

"You know what that says?” the older detective asked his partner. They were
both looking at a bare leg draped out of an open trunk of a car in an
abandoned lot.

“I don’t know Mexican, Rudy. Get one of the uniforms to translate,” came the
gruff reply.

The older detective signaled for Manny Lopez, a rookie who was guarding
the crime scene, to come over. “Manny,” he asked, pointing to the exposed
leg, “What’s that tattoo mean in English?”

Lopez leaned down by the car’s bumper, got close to the leg, and then
looked up, answering, “It says ‘Convulsions in Rabbits’, detective. He put his
hand on the bumper and rose slowly, brushing the dirt off his knees as he

The two detectives looked at each other and then back to Lopez.
“Convulsions?” one repeated. “Is that what you said, Manny?”

“Yes, detective, convulsions. You know, like seizures, spasms, uncontrolled
body movements typically resulting from brain damage or some such,” Lopez

“In frickin’ rabbits?” the other wonders allowed.

“Yes, detective. No doubt. In rabbits,” Manny replied.

“Does that mean anything to you, Manny? I mean, is there some sort of
gang symbolism or religious mumbo jumbo that the tattoo relates to? You
know, in Mexican?” the partner asked, smoking his third cigarette.

Manny Lopez wasn’t about ready to help these ignorant rednecks do their
job. He played dumb. “Never seen it before, detectives. No idea about any
underlying meaning, sirs.”

He, of course, knew exactly what it meant. He’d first seen the tattoo on his
grandfather’s back when he was just a kid in the jungles of Guatemala. It
was late one night when the men in his small family had secretly gathered
together, away from the others, to meet in a cave near their village. Manny
had disobeyed his father and followed the men at a safe distance. And that’s
where he saw his grandfather, his shirt off, the light from a fire reflecting off
the cave’s walls. The other men were raptly listening to the old man as he
explained about the ritual they were about to partake in. And on his back,
Manny saw for the first time the tattoo.

He only heard snippets of what the old man was saying, but enough to
understand that the other men were about to take a drink of something very
powerful, very secret, and very life changing. Manny crept back to the
village, full of excitement and curiosity, and waited for the next day.

“You sure, Manny?” the older detective asked again pointing to the leg. “No
clue about what this means? Not even a guess?”

Manny shook his head and said, “It’s a crude tattoo, detective, typical of
something somebody would get in prison. Maybe if you look into this guy’s
prison record, there might be something there. Just a thought.” Lopez knew
that the tattoo wasn’t done in prison. It was clearly done in Guatemala, the
only place that color of ink was used for tattoos. But let these crackers figure
that out, he thought to himself. Good luck!

Manny woke up in Guatemala the next day and realized that the men in the
cave and his grandfather had returned, but were all still asleep as the
women of the village prepared for the day. He waited until his mother had a
moment between chores when he asked her, “Mother, what is a ‘convulsion
in rabbits’?”

She turned and stared at him in horror. “You must never, ever, ask that,
Manuel!!” Shaking, she returned to her work, but was clearly distracted by
what her son had asked her. And at some point, she stopped her work and
summoned him over to sit with her, which he did.

“Manuel, our ancestors were great people. Builders, thinkers, conquerors.
They built a great civilization. But it was a drug that caused their ultimate
demise,” she began in hushed tones. “Only the vestiges of their greatness
still exist in the jungles today. You understand?”

Manny nodded.

“And that drug is only today returning,” she continued, a tone of dread in her

“But ‘convulsions in rabbits’. What does it mean?” Manny asked innocently.

“Our ancestors tested the drugs on animals, my son, and that was the result
back in our history. Today, those reintroducing the drug know they have the
right concoction when that happens in rabbits. That is what your grandfather
is doing. He’s bringing the drug back for reasons we don’t understand.”

The two detectives dismissed Manny with their thanks. As he went back to
guarding the perimeter of the crime scene, he pondered what would happen
next. He now understood why his grandfather was doing what he was doing.
It was his grandfather’s ultimate goal to destroy the gringo nation up north
with the same drug that had destroyed his ancestor’s culture.

And Officer Manuel Lopez wasn’t too sure that was such a bad idea.


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