Lennie appeared out of the brush by the deep, green pool of the Salinas River. He had been running. He knelt down quietly by the pool’s edge and drank barely touching his lips to the water. He finished drinking and sat down embracing his knees on the bank, facing the trail entrance. He became very skittish and jumpy. Every little noise prodded for his attention. He knew he had made a huge mistake and George would be mad at him. He had remembered though, that George told him to hide here and wait for him.
Light climbed out of the valley, and the tops of the mountains seemed to blaze with brightness. Looking at those mountains Lennie felt like he should just go there. He knew that once George got there, he was gonna give him hell.
Lennie continued his thoughts aloud, “George gonna wish he was alone an’ not have me botherin’ him. I could just go up to them mountains and find a cave.” He continued, sadder now, “ -an’ never have no ketchup- but I won’t care. If George don’t want me... I’ll go away. I’ll go away.”
As dusk was abroad, pictures began to climb out of Lennie’s head. The first one was a little fat old woman, wearing bull’s-eye glasses and a huge gingham apron with pockets. She was starched and clean, standing in front of Lennie with her hands on her hips, and frowning disapprovingly at him.
She spoke in Lennie’s voice. “I tol’ you an’ tol’ you,” she said. “I tol’ you, ‘Min’ George because he’s such a nice fella an’ good to you.’ But you don’t never take no care. You do bad things. George ain’t gonna want you aroun’ no more.”
Lennie attempted to answer her, “I tried, Aunt Clara, ma’am. I really did try!”
She continued, mad, in Lennie’s voice, “Don’ say you tried. He been doin’ nice things for you alla time. You ain’t never gonna give him one thought of a chance! All the time he coulda had such a good time if it wasn’t for you. He woulda took his pay an’ raised hell in a whore house, an’ he coulda set in a poolroom an’ played snooker, but instead he’s a takin’ care of you.”
“I know, Aunt Clara, ma’am,” he answers. He continues, “I might jus’ as well go away. George ain’t gonna want me around no more. An’ he sure ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now.”
With this new thought of the rabbits in his head, Aunt Clara went away and a new image appeared in the haze. In replace of her came a gigantic rabbit sitting on its haunches. It waggled its ears and crinkled its nose at him....