“It was pouring out when R.T. Robeson jumped on the bus that would carry him from downtown Orlando to the building in an older, somewhat less fashionable section of the city. He had never visited the building before, but a Miss Gardenia was expecting him …”
ORLANDO — So begins “Bloody Rabbit,” a book that explores the fiery hot anger that erupts following an economic crash, and the subsequent rise in nationalism as more and more people lose their jobs.
The book sounds like a harbinger of the Trump Era that started in 2016. And yet this book by author Michael W. Freeman was written early in 2013, long before Donald Trump had even become a presidential candidate, let alone one taken seriously by the pundits.
In many ways, though, “Bloody Rabbit” offers a glimpse into the roots of Trump’s historic victory at the polls — and at the blue collar workers who watched their jobs, livelihood, and sense of optimism get shattered by the lingering impact of the Great Recession, and who ended up looking for someone to listen to and champion them.
It starts in a world familiar to us all: the struggle to cope during an economic downturn. The book slow builds to an even more terrifying situation: the persecution of those who become an angry society’s scapegoats.
Set in the author’s home city of Orlando and loosely based on the author’s own experiences after being downsized in 2011 and his slow climb back up the economic ladder, “Bloody Rabbit” is a tense, haunting and sometimes grotesquely funny look at how quickly social norms crumble when times get tough.
This eerie tale sends readers into a surreal world where people are desperately struggling to find stability, as they cope with a harsh economic anxiety. “Bloody Rabbit” simultaneously mixes the horrific and the comical.
The book follows R.T. Robeson, a middle-aged man who had it all — a good job, a home, a car — then loses everything. He finally finds a new, much lower-paying job, then happily discovers a tiny apartment he can afford and quickly agrees to rent the cramped unit — even though it has a violent and unsavory history.
If it seems like Robeson has finally landed back on his feet, he’s startled when complete strangers repeatedly and angrily confront him, insisting he just did something crude and offensive. Robeson is baffled and can’t figure out who these people are mistaking him for. An air of dread begins to suffocate the hapless Robeson.
Robeson increasingly feels isolated, like he’s gone into hiding. But his life is about to get much worse.
At the time Freeman first started writing this book in January 2013, President Obama had just been re-elected to a second term with 51 percent of the vote, and there were few if any hints that a political earthquake of a radically different kind was brewing. Or was there? In “Bloody Rabbit,” the weeds in the grass that would grow into the Trump revolution are starkly present.
Published by Freeline Productions, the book is one distinctly about and for the Trump Era, that documents the rise of the new nationalism. It’s available by visiting Amazon.com or through the Freeline online bookstore.
Michael Freeman, a resident of Orlando, has been a journalist since 1988. Throughout his career, he’s worked at some of the Sunshine State’s largest newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel, The Lakeland Ledger, The Sun-Sentinel and The Jewish Journal.
Michael is also a playwright, active in Central Florida’s fast-growing theater community. He wrote and produced the original plays “Hooked,” “Copping a Craigie” and “Murder Sleep,” which premiered at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.
A passionate lover of theater and the arts, Michael is a guild member at The Orlando Shakespeare Theater and a member of the Playwrights Round Table in Orlando.
Michael is also the founder of Freeline Productions, a writing and editing service that distributes his fiction novels “Bloody Rabbit” and “Koby’s New Home,” published in 2016.
Michael was born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, and has lived in Orlando since 2002. He enjoys reading, traveling, the music of The Monkees, the films of Roman Polanski, catching re-runs of the 1970s series “Kolchak The Night Stalker,” and the great art of comic books.
Michael is also the proud papa of his cats Fluffy and Midnight.
Contact Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..