From the novel: The_Russians_Are_Coming!
* * * * *
When Vlad woke up this April morning, he saw his wife hurriedly dressing and smartening Larisa up, and he was surprised. It was Saturday, and his daughter had no school.
"Count-Mart is having a special event," Nina explained to her husband. "They offer free breakfast for kids, and afterwards they take a photo of the children. Do you want your picture taken with the Easter Bunny?" she asked her daughter, and the girl nodded.
Leaving the house, the Lapins heard the siren reminding the residents of the Cold War, as it was 10 a.m. The Russians laughed. "We are coming, we are coming!"
* * * * *
Vlad drove to the local supermarket, kissed his wife and daughter, and dropped them off.
Arriving, Nina received a coupon from the smiling organizer, and went into the indoor café. Larisa quickly ate the breakfast. She liked pancakes, and her mother watched the girl with happiness in her heart. Afterwards, Nina thoroughly cleaned her daughter's face, and touched the bows on her pigtails.
"My beauty." She smiled. "Let's take a picture with the Bunny."
Obediently, Larisa got up, but when she saw this creature, and stood still.
It was not the rabbit the girl was prepared to see. It was a monster, a furry horrible monster. It was bigger than Mom, and probably even taller than Dad. The giant motionless eyes stared at her. His long fangs, glistening from above, appeared capable of biting her through with one bite, and the huge stomach seemed to already contain some eaten up children.
'All the better to eat you with, Little Red Riding Hood,' Larisa recalled and she grabbed her mother's clothes.
Unaware of what was going on in the mind of her daughter, Nina wanted to move Larisa to the actor in the Easter Bunny costume. The girl only hid her face and clung to her mother.
"Look, what a cute Bunny!" Vainly Nina tried to tear her daughter away. Larisa started sobbing, and her panicked mood spread to the other children. When the organizer tried to take another boy to the head of the line, the child screamed, and all the kids began to cry and cling to their parents.
Embarrassed, Nina saw the irritated glance from the organizer and the parents, and she thought with vexation, 'I bet, they're all thinking, "Stupid Russians only bring troubles!" Oh God, what if they ask me to pay for the breakfast? I didn't bring any money. Oh, what shame. How stupid.'
"Come on, Larisa." She tried to persuade her daughter again. "Say thanks to the Bunny."
The girl did not reply, and the woman felt despair, but suddenly she saw a police officer and a new idea came to Nina. She waved him over.
The policeman went close, and Nina was happy to see it was Jeff Menard.
"Officer Jeff!" Nina exclaimed, and he involuntarily smiled, as it sounded like 'Uncle Jeff.' "Officer Jeff, we have a problem, could you help us?"
She explained, and Jeff squatted next to Larisa.
"Are you afraid of the Bunny?"
The girl nodded.
"I'll protect you, do you want me to?" Jeff asked in a very serious voice. The girl glanced at him and back to the Bunny with doubt. This monster looked very, very big.
'What if the policeman has no time to save me before the Rabbit swallows me?' thought the girl.
She saw a golden retriever next to an old man with a walking stick. Larisa recognized them, her thoughts changed, and she ran to the dog and petted it.
"Mom." she addressed Nina. "Do you remember, this doggie had horns on Halloween and antlers on Christmas?"
Bill Thompson heard that and smiled, and the other children also started to pet the animal. Jeff told Thompson about the problem and asked for his assistance. Then Bill suggested to Larisa, "Goldy can be next to you for your protection."
Hesitating, Larisa took the arm of the policeman, the retriever went beside her, and all together they neared the actor. Nina carefully seated her daughter on the lap of the Bunny. Everybody stepped back, Larisa still sat, and the cameraman took the photo quickly.
The organizer sighed with relief as the event took its normal course. Children were coming one by one to the Bunny, and everything was fine now.
"Thank you so much," Nina said to Bill Thompson. "I saw an advertisement about cleaning back yards after the dogs, and I was shocked with the prices. If you want, I can clean your yard for free."
"No." Bill shook his head. "I'll be glad to pay you. You can use the money to buy something for your daughter."
"Wow." Nina clapped her hands. "It's a deal."
A smiling Jeff Menard came close, and Nina said to him, "Thank you so much for your help. You know, Vera talks a lot about you." The woman did not notice the eyes of the policeman flash with joy and confusion.
"Mom!" Nina heard, looked back and was surprised, as Larisa held a huge toy rabbit almost the same size as the girl. "Look what I won."
"Really?" Amazed, Nina glanced at the organizer. Smiling, she nodded confirmation, and Nina hugged her daughter. "Do you see how it's good to be a good girl?"
Larisa laughed and allowed another picture to be taken with the prize and the Easter Bunny without any persuasion.
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