The Rabbit Who Came To Dinner
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or setting.
This fanfiction was made for fun, not profit.
Epic Mickey is owned by Disney.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is owned by Disney and Universal.
The Man Who Came to Dinner written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Sheridan Whiteside. Famous critic and radio personality. The toast of Hollywood, New York, London, and other such places. Friend of movie stars, theatrical actors, men of science, and even royalty! The man who could make or brake careers without a second thought. The man who was both loved and feared by the upper crust of entertainment. One of the leading men of the 1930's, this great decade that will be forever known as a golden age.
This well known, charming, long sought-after genius… was currently sitting on his fat ass in a dark room a two o'clock in the morning, confined to a wheelchair.
Curse all the luck. He just had to visit this place, this paltry little town somewhere in Ohio, for a charitable event and partake in dinner at the house of one Mr. Earnest W. Stanley. But on the why of making a hasty retreat from this "charming home," he accidently slipped on the icy front step and fell on his posterior, spraining his hip.
Now, he would have to spend the Christmas of 1939 in this country dump; this shoddy outhouse with it's fine carpets, high ceilings, well made food, and servants on his every beck and call… Ha! He'd been to brothels more upscale than this place.
Whiteside sighed and look around the living room that he had commandeered as his private office. It was dark. Only his small desk lamp provided any light; a small island in a bleak sea.
He was currently writing a review, and his favorite kind at that: a scathing one. He loved the scathing ones. They just sizzled as he penned them. The late hour did not bother him. Sheridan Whiteside did not need to sleep. His world was always moving. Never staying. Never stalled in the past.
As Whiteside continued his work, he picked his glass of brandy but found that his unquenchable thirst had long since removed the brandy from his glass. With a sneer he reached for the bottle only to find it empty as well.
"John!" he cried, calling the butler. After a minute of waiting he tried again. "John!" Still nothing. He'd try the maid. "Sarah!"
Nothing again. Then he slapped his forehead as he remembered that the servants had gone home. How indigent. All he did was run them through the ringer all day and this was the thanks he gets? Why, he had the right mind to go to the owner of this establishment and ask him to fire them.
Well, there was nothing for it. He would regrettably have to call his nurse.
"Miss Preen!" But again there was nothing. "Miss Preen!" Came the call again, but he remained the sole occupant of the room.
Had she gone home for the night, too? He wasn't aware that a twenty-four hour nurse could do that. What was the would coming to?
Well, there was always Maggie, his secretary for fifteen years. She was like him: rarely slept, always working. She would always be by his side.
Whiteside slammed his fist into the arm of his wheelchair. Where was that women. It wasn't like her to take so long. Why just earlier this evening she had…
Oh, that's right. She had asked for the night off, and then gallivanted off with that newspaper man.
Giving a low growl, Whiteside wheeled his chair away from his desk and toward the nearby door.
That's when he heard it. The sound of a door opening and closing softly. Whiteside stopped were he was and surveyed the darkness. Was that one of the staff? Maybe they didn't all leave.
"Hey! John, is that you?" Only silence greeted him.
"John! Miss Preen! Maggie!" he tried. Still no answer.
With a small huff, Whiteside began to wheel his char away. It was just his imagination. Old country houses like this had a way with one's mind.
But then he heard a soft scampering from the far end of the room. Whiteside once again halted his endeavors and tried to spy the source of the noises, but could not see beyond the curtains of shadow.
"Stanley, is that you," he called, "I told you this room is now my study. If you have any rants, you may contact my lawyers-"
He was cut off by another soft noise, this time coming from the shadows on his right. He hastily turned his chair to face the dark nothing.
"Banjo, is that you?" he said hopping to high hope that it was his comedian star friend, but he heard no confirmation. "Banjo, you vaudeville reject, this is not funny! I demanded you come out hear at once!"
He heard another scamper and turned his head just in time to see a small shape run across the floor. It was too small to be Banjo.
Whiteside stiffened. "Look, whoever you are, I won't stand for this intrusion. Leave at once, or I will sue you out of house and home."
Even as he said this, however, he backed into the nearby wall. It wasn't that he was afraid, goodness no! He was just, uh…cautious. Yeah, cautious. Couldn't let some common thief touch one hair of the voice of the radio waves.
He heard the shuffling again, this time before him, off in the darkness.
Out of the shadows walked the figure and as it got closer Whiteside could start to make it out. It was indeed very short; if Whiteside was standing its head would reach just above his waste. It was thin and lanky, with long feet and what looked like two long pieces of rubber hose sticking out of its head like ears. It was completely black except for a white patch on its face, and the only clothing it wore was a pair of blue short pants. It looked like some sort of animal or, Whiteside realized, a caricature of one. Yes, this thing looked just like those short feature cartoons from a almost two decades ago, right down to the dots for eyes. But cartoons weren't real. So what is it doing here? And why did it look so familiar?
The thing walked forward, its tiny eyes focused strait on Whiteside, who could not move. It was not that he was scared… okay, he was terrified. If some strange inky whatya-ma-call-it broke into your house and came strolling ominous up to you, you would be too. But Whiteside would not falter, nor would he give this monster the satisfaction. He sat firm as the thing got closer and closer. Suddenly it leapt up into the air, coming right at him. Whiteside closed his eyes, waiting for what ever was coming.
And he waited.
Not feeling the horrible mauling he was expecting, Whiteside slowly opened an eye and gazed around the room. Nothing. The thing had vanished! He scanned the room, turning his head one way and the other. Where did it go? It was just…
Whiteside fallowed the sound and looked down…at his lap. There, spread out across it and looking quite comfortable, was the cartoon thing, its hands behind its head, looking up at Whiteside. It smiled and gave a wave. "Hey ya, Sherry!" it greeted.
"Get of me!" Whiteside yelled, tossing the thing to the ground.
"Hey," the thing grumbled as he stood, and nonchalantly dusted himself off. It had a strange, ruff voice; definitely male and definitely full of attitude. Whiteside hated him already. "That's a fine how-do-you-do! And here I thought I could surprise you with a visit and…"
He was silenced when Whiteside brought up his hand.
"I'm sorry," he said in a tone that made it clear how unsorry he was, "but I just wasn't expecting to be disturbed in the middle of the night by some reject from the funny papers."
"Oh, that's okay, Sherry," the cartoon said, "I understand since my visit is so abrupt…"
"Oh well, don't sweat it, my chum," Whiteside said sweetly, "Now get out!" he said this not as sweetly.
"But I just got here," He cheered as he hopped onto Whiteside's desk and grabbed the empty brandy bottle, "you can't expect me to leave before I say 'hi'" he picked up the shot glass, inspected it for a second before chucking it over his shoulder, then put the bottle itself to his lips, only for his eyes to light up when he felt no liquor hit his mouth.
"Well, you said 'hi'" Whiteside sneered. He couldn't believe it. A moment ago, he thought that he was being targeted by some assassin, but what it actually turned out to be was much worse: someone wasting his time. He hated people who wasted his time! There was already no shortage of time wasting people in his life lately; he did not need one more.
"Oh, come on, Sherry," the cartoon said, as he shook the brandy bottle over his open mouth, hoping to get at lest one drop, "don't tell me your not happy to see me?"
"I hardly know you, sir." Whiteside said, though he couldn't beat down the feeling that he did indeed know this thing from somewhere.
The brandy bottle fell to the ground with a crash, the cartoon-thing looking at Whiteside with his tiny dot-eyes going strikingly wide in panic. This lasted only an instant, however, and the thing suddenly smiled.
"Ha! Good one, sherry! You can't tell me you don't know who I am."
"I certainly know who you are," Whiteside huffed, "You're a hallucination caused by too much brandy, or not enough, whichever the case may be."
The panic returned to the thing's face, but he tried to keep calm as he began to speak, "Sherry, Sherry, Sherry, Sherry! You did a three page article on me, remember? Said I was the funniest thing you had seen in years. You said my cartoons were a work of art. You know my father!" he spread his arms out as if he was presenting its self. "Give me a good look, Sherry. You know who I am."
Whiteside could deny it no longer; the cartoon-thing did look familiar. Yes, he remembered faintly, watching someone similar to him, long, long ago. He studied the cartoon: the long, noodly arms and legs; the round head and white face; the short pants. Suddenly, it came to him: "You're Mickey Mouse!"
That was the wrong answer.
"Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!" the cartoon-thing roared, hopping up and down in rage, "do I look like Mickey Mouse to you?" Whiteside opened his mouth only to be interrupted with a quick "Don't answer that!" from the cartoon as he plucked the long appendages from his head, and shoved them in Whiteside's face.
"See these ears? These are rabbit ears. Not mouse ears, rabbit ears. I am a rabbit!" he practically screamed the words, and Whiteside had to back up his wheelchair away from the deck and the angry blob of ink.
"Okay. Okay," Whiteside said, "I get it. You're a rabbit, not a mouse. Not that it makes a goddamn difference to me."
Sitting down on the desktop, the cartoon held a pleading look as it returned its "ears" to its head with a plunk. "Please, Sherry. You've gotta remember. Don't ya' recall my first picture, 'Trolley Troubles?'"
Whiteside frowned. It didn't sound familiar. "No."
"Sure you do," the rabbit insisted, "I was the trolley conductor, remember?" he sprang to his feet and began to mime driving a trolley car, twisting and pulling imaginary wheels and levers.
Whiteside stroked his beard. That did seem familiar… he shook his head. No, no it didn't.
"No," he said simply.
But the rabbit didn't stop. "And I crammed dozens of people into a tiny trolley car, and we rode through the twisting hills and rolling paths, remember?"
That all did seem to ring a bell.
Now the rabbit began to wave his arms wildly, saying his words quickly. "But then we came to a really, really steep hill, but I trick an angry Billy goat into pushing the trolley up the hill. Remember that?"
Okay, now he had to admit it felt like he had seen this picture before.
The rabbit didn't even seem to register Whiteside anymore being far too caught up in his story. "But it was just as steep going down and we sped out of control, unable to stop," he was now swaying left and right, mimicking the rocking motion of the trolley, "all the while passengers kept flying out of the trolley with every bump until it was just me left. Then the trolley reached the end of the tracks and fell into the river below!" he suddenly fell onto his inky ass. "Remember now?" he asked hopefully.
Yes! Yes, it was all coming back to him. The trolley. The rabbit. Long forgotten memories exploded through him like a summer evening. He knew who this rabbit was. He knew his name. He knew.
"No," Whiteside said simply.
The rabbit's long ears drooped in disappointment. "Really, you don't remember me?"
"No, I do not. Now, do you mind? I have more important things to deal with than rowdy hallucinations."
His back hunched, the rabbit turned and began to slump dejectedly into the shadows only to stop and look back. "Are you sure?" he said hopefully.
"Yes, quite sure." Whiteside said happily.
The rabbit took a few more sad steps forward before turning back again. "Not even a little?"
"No, I have no clue who you are." Whiteside gave a smile.
The rabbit returned to his solemn march, but halted for one last time before reaching the darkness. "Are you absolutely sure?"
"Yes, yes. Positive!" Whiteside said, waving ecstatically, "goodbye, Oswald!"
As Whiteside uttered those words, the cartoon rabbit disappeared into the shadows, and finally all was quiet.
Whiteside cracked a cocky grin as he wheeled himself back to the desk. He decided he did not need any more brandy. Hell, what just happened was probably a sign that he had quite enough. Now he just wanted to finish his article, hopefully without anymore strange interrupt-
"You said my name."
Whiteside had to stop himself from springing up from his chair in fright. There on his desk, bulbous head just a few inches from his own face, stood the cartoon rabbit, ears twitching and mouth half open. He had somehow had gotten that close without Whiteside noticing till he spoke.
"What?" blabbered Whiteside, not sure if he asked that to the rabbit or to the situation in general.
"You said my name," the rabbit repeated.
"No I didn't." Whiteside said bluntly.
"Yes, you did," the rabbit said smiling, "you said 'goodbye, Oswald.'"
Whiteside began to shift in his chair. "No! No I said 'goodbye lard pearl,'" he gave a strained laughter, "bet you didn't see the oyster made entirely out of bacon grease fly by, did you? Oh, it was a sight to behold!"
The rabbit looked thoroughly unconvinced.
"No, really! Shot right by," Whiteside said, waving his arms.
The rabbit still looked thoroughly unconvinced.
"Oh, you should have seen it. Uncooked fat everywhere! It was a miracle I cleaned it all up in the thirty seconds you were gone!" Whiteside insisted, practically on the edge of his wheelchair.
The rabbit still looked thoroughly unconvinced.
"Fine, fine," Whiteside said, raising his hands in defeat, "you win. I know who you are, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit."
Oswald crossed his arms in victory. "So you do remember me?"
Whiteside frowned, not sure if he wanted to admit that this was not just all some dream. "I know that Oswald was the first hit cartoon series of my good friend Walt Disney before legal reasons forced him to-"
"I was abandoned!" Oswald interrupted his face literally red with anger, "he tossed me away like a cheap dime store portable hole. All for that… that… goody two-shoes mouse!" he practically bellowed the word at the ceiling with venom.
"I take it you hold a grudge?" Whiteside snarked, only to see two angry dots staring at him in return.
"Grudge? No, I don't hold a grudge," the rabbit said as the fires of the purest hate burned in his eye, "I just don't take kindly to the fact that my cartoons were left to those who treat me like some cheesy Sunday funny. I used to be a star. Have you seen my new cartoons?"
Actually, now that he thought of it, Whiteside had seen some of Oswald's latest endeavors recently, which brought up the question of why he did not recognized the rabbit sooner. Then he recalled said cartoons, and the answer immediately sprang to his mind.
"Forgettable," he spat.
"Exactly!" Oswald said excitedly, "that's why I'm here tonight."
"Oh-no." Whiteside groaned as he grabbed a blank sheet of paper and began to squiggle nonsense on it in a vain attempt to look busy.
"You have all kinds of connections. Maybe call a few friends…"
"Sorry, can't! Very busy!" Whiteside cutoff, now randomly smacking papers with a large, rubber ink stamp.
"Listen!" Oswald suddenly shot forward and grabbed Whiteside by the collar of his bathrobe. "I need an audience. Not want, need! A cartoon lives on the love and adoration of people, and if we become less popular we become weaker. Do you know what happens to cartoons that are forgotten completely?"
Whiteside stared into those intense little dots. "No," he said carefully.
The rabbit's face turned deadly serious. "Nether do I, and I do not wish to find out. Got that?"
Whiteside pushed Oswald away and regarded him for a moment, deep in thought. Than a wide grin spread across his face.
"Oswald," Whiteside said, his voice deep in syrup, "You have convinced me! Your sad story has tugged at my heartstrings," he gave the animated rodent a slap on the back that sent him falling off the desk, "you just run off and leave everything to your old pal, Sherry."
Oswald happily picked himself off the floor. "Gee, thanks! You won't regret it," he said as he began to hop off into the shadowy curtain before stopping and turning back, "so I can leave it all to you?"
"Of course!" Whiteside cheered.
"And you'll get a hold of some people?"
"Already got someone in mind."
"Do you have a number were I can-"
"That won't be necessary. I will keep in touch."
Satisfied, Oswald marched off into the darkness and was finally gone.
Whiteside grinned stupidly at nothing for a few seconds and, when he was sure the rabbit was really gone, gave a relieved sigh as he moved his chair away from his desk.
You know, maybe Sheridan Whiteside did need some rest if this was the strange tricks his mind was going to play on him. Yes, a good night's sleep and he could forget all about the delusional rabbit.
Outside, snowflakes were still falling slowly, the white hills rolling off into the night. Oswald was trudging through the neck-high snow, shivering violently with every step.
For a brief moment the small rabbit halted in his progression and looked back unsurely at the house in the distance, fear trembling in his eyes. But then he shook his head dismissively.
"Nah!" he tried to convince himself, "he'll pull through. He has to pull through."
With that, the cartoon rabbit ventured off into the harsh, cold wasteland.