Javier et Latif – A Short Story of a Big Dream
I know, this is my illustration blog, but this is a short story, which I wrote 5 years ago. I polished it up a bit, fell in love with it again and just wanted to share it with you. It has a kind of Ratatouille feeling to it, even though I wrote it long before it. Enjoy!
Javier watched Latif doing his morning exercise. Latif stood on the balcony, stretching his legs. Then he pulled one leg up to his ear, held it for a moment and then let it go. He did the same with the other leg. He leaned his arms on the wrought iron balcony balustrade and stretched his back until it cracked. Then he got up, stood on one leg and made a pirouette in the light of the awakening sun. Javier was fascinated each time he saw his master Latif doing his routine. He knew what came next. Latif took a deep breath and started singing; a short quick song, first quiet then louder and louder until it ended in a high strong conclusion that made Javier’s heart beat faster. Javier’s long ears stood up and he crawled closer to the bars of his cage. Now Latif smiled and opened the door of the cage, so Javier could jump out and as always he hoppled to the big white chair in front of the bookshelf and with a single dart he sat on it.
Latif helped Javier up to the back of the chair and then he asked him: “Will you be my Juliet again?”
Javier nodded with his little rabbit head and Latif knelt down. He looked up to Javier and raised his hand. Javier squealed quietly as Latif started:
“She speaks: O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o’er my head
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air”
Javier knew it was his part now and so he squealed again. And Latif replied and so they finished the whole scene. Latif took Javier in his arms and gave him a heart-felt cuddle. When he put his rabbit back in the cage, he gave him an extra carrot and added as always: “You are the best Juliet ever.” Then he left and usually didn’t come back till late at night. Javier glanced out of the cage, which was placed on a table near the window and surveyed the city. In the morning dust he saw the Eiffel Tower appearing and on the balcony landed Mabel the dove.
“Bonjour!” she said and stalked through the open balcony door.
“Bonjour,” answered Javier with a dreamy voice.
“What’s going on, have you been Juliet again?”
But Javier didn’t say a thing and still stared at the Eiffel Tower.
“One day,” he said after a while, “one day I will be on the stage of Le Théâtre Anglais Royal and everybody will see me and everybody will applaud and I will be an acteur fameux.”
“Eh oui, mon ami. I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’ve never heard of a rabbit being on the stage of Le Théâtre Anglais Royal or on any other stage in Paris.”
“But Latif told me, that I’m the best Juliet ever, so they need me.”
Mabel sighed. “I wish you luck mon ami. I will go now and see, if I find some breakfast in the Jardin des Tuileries.” Before Mabel left she pulled away the stick, which locked Javier’s cage so he could hop freely around in the apartment high above the streets of the city of love. Mabel soared away and Javier gave her a longing look. He hoppled to the bookshelf and pulled out another edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays and transported it to the balcony where he started to read. He knew every play by heart, but he still couldn’t stop himself from reading them again and againt. Very carefully he turned the pages with his little paws so he didn’t rip anything. When he was at the second scene of the fourth act of Othello Javier winced.
Somebody was on the door. Somebody turned the key in the lock. And somebody came in. It was Latif. But what did he do here, it was way too early. Quickly Javier raced back to his cage and pretended to be the tame and good rabbit he usually was. Latif stormed in the apartment and knelt down in front of the cage, where Javier pretended to nipple on his carrot.
Desperately Latif reached up: “Javier…it is over.” He sighed. Javier ears flicked up. What happened, did the Theatre catch fire or did the premier minister prohibit acting?
“We cannot do the premiere tonight; Belle ma Juliette became sick. She lost her voice.”
Oh no, that was terrible. Every rehearsal would have been for nothing. Latif got up, held his head and walked agitated in circles in the sunny living room.
“What can I do, what can I do?“ He whined. Javier couldn’t bear that. He jumped out of the cage and up on the white chair. He even managed to jump up the seat back by himself. He squealed.
Latif paused instantly and looked at his rabbit. His eyes grew bigger and bigger and on his face appeared a wide smile.
“Javier,” he shouted. “You! You are my salvation.” And before Javier knew what was happening, Latif stuffed him back in the cage and rushed, the cage in his arms, out of the apartment, down the three-hundred stairs and onto the street. Mabel, who just came back from breakfast looked puzzled down on what was happening. Latif put the cage on the front passenger’s seat of his little Citroen, jumped in himself and started to Le Théâtre Anglais Royal.
“Shakespeare isn’t dead!” he shouted, when he walked in with the cage. The director, the prop man, the light men, the make-up artist and all the actors, who were crying, turned around and stared with their red swollen eyes at Latif and Javier.
“Sacré bleu,” shouted the director and blew his nose with a white tissue hanging out of his black waistcoat. “Why do you bring this little carrot eater in our theatre? This place is only for real stars.”
“Javier is a real star, Monsieur Jeu. He will be a perfect Juliet. Just let me demonstrate.”
Latif took Javier out of his cage and carried him up the stage onto a balcony made of paper-mâché. Javier looked down to his master. His heart was beating fast like the flapping wings of a hummingbird. Latif had chosen him to be his Juliet, the best Juliet ever. Now he needed to proof that he was worth it. He never would let his master down. And when Latif spoke his part Javier the rabbit missed not one cue. And when they were done there was a dead silence. Javier didn’t dare to move and suddenly a loud clapping started from the last tier. It was Monsieur Jeu. “Bravo! Bravo!” he shouted, “Javier you are employed!”
And so it happened, that Javier the white dwarf rabbit had his first grand entrance in Le Théâtre Anglais Royal on this night in Paris. The audience was amazed and his rabbit heart was proud and happy as never before. He had five drops and the bath in the applause and the standing ovations made him dizzy with joy. And somewhere in the audience he saw Mabel, who applauded too and shouted something. The thunderous applause was so loud he had trouble to understand her. He put his ears up and finally he caught her word. “Wake up,” she yelled, “Wake up, mon ami.” He winced, blinked for a second and when he opened his eyes again, the dream was over. Sadly he realized, that he was still sitting on the balcony, the sun was already sinking under the horizon and dipped the sky in a wild mix of orange, red and purple. And the Shakespeare book was still on the second scene of the fourth act of Othello. Mabel sat on the balustrade and giggled.
“Eh mon ami, you were sleeping deep this time.”
“Then why did you wake me up?”
“I wanted to tell you that the premiere was a gigantesque success. Belle and Latif are the new stars of Les Théâtre Anglais Royal. Oh she was such a wonderful Juliet.”
“Mhmm,” said Javier quietly and went back inside with a huff.