Allo? C’est Le Château Sûr, la maison de la famille Maltraitence.

“It’s David Mann.” I said, shaking slightly.

Bien sûr! Docteur Mann, comment puis-je vous aider?” It was Sebastian’s castellan. I didn’t know his name, but had dubbed him “White Gloves” on account of his uniform.

“I’m standing on the side of the road, looking at a pretty grizzly sight.” I said, rubbing guts off my shoes and into the grass.  “I’ve just driven over a very large rabbit.”

Zut alors! Monsieur Maltraitence aime cette voiture!

“Yeah…Sebastian loaned me the Bentley so I could move in. These goofy roads are so poorly lit I didn’t see the thing until I ran it over.  I’m outside the car now, looking at all the blood and little bits of fluff.”

Trop mauvais…”

“It’s not funny. The rabbit isn’t dead. I only ran over its leg, but I knew it couldn’t make it. I opened the trunk and took out a tire iron, thinking to end its suffering. I’m not really good at stuff like that. I hesitated and only bashed off an ear. It’s got a stumpy leg and a pulpy head. It’s still not dead. It pulled itself into the woods. I tried to hit it a few more times but I kept missing. I feel horrible.”

C’est une histoire triste. Serez-vous vouloir dîner quand vous arrivez?”  

“Why couldn’t I put that poor creature out of its misery?” I asked, feeling a growing sense of aggravation.

Uh…

“For that matter, why won’t someone put me out of mine? Ever since Liz died I’ve been trying to find cover.”

“Monsieur?”

“…stuff keeps coming at methe loss of my doctoral fellowship, the loss of my grant money–-and I’m like that little bunny, half-dead, living in a hole in France, barely avoiding the blows of Fate that are too timid to end my life completely.”

Je vais vous dire Monsieur Maltraitence vous a appelé.

Geez, that’s melodramatic. I thought, embarrassed of myself. Ah crap! I forgot to tell Sebastian about his tire iron. He’s not going to be happy. It looks like someone covered it in cotton and rubbed it in dirty jam.