Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Ok, you've now been properly introduced to The Blue Budgie Brigade, so onto the story.....hope your seat belts are still fastened from Part 7.
You've been warned.......
by Julie Anne and Tim
February 20, 2008
False Sense of Security
The hysterical woman paced back and forth in the vets private office. Her husband of 53 years had done all in his power to console his beloved, but having not been able to, sat silently in the corner of the room in the faux leather chair and just prayed, mumbling under his breath, for his wifes sake, that Otto would live.
“I’m positive I locked his cage!” the woman sobbed uncontrollably as she took two more laps back and forth across the small cluttered room. “How on earth did he get loose! How on earth did he land on that broken wooden spoon?!” she wailed as she tossed her hands up in the air as if the motion would miraculously answer her questions.
“Mrs. Paramour,” the vet began as he entered the room, his face solemn and bearing the tell-tale signs of three hours of hard grueling surgery on the small delicate blue fronted Amazon parrot, “Please sit down.” he instructed as he made himself as comfortable as he could behind his cluttered desk.
“HE’S DEAD!!!!!!!!” Mrs. Paramour wailed at a decibel the dogs out in the waiting room, half way across the building, heard loud and clear, as she collapsed into a dramatic heap onto the linoleum floor.
“Is our Otto Baby dead?” asked the previously silent Mr. Paramour from the faux leather chair while his wife continued to wail and sob on the floor.
Figuring, as Mr. Paramour had, that consoling Mrs. Paramour was pointless, the vet continued with what he had to say to Mr. Paramour, “Otto has survived. That little bird has one serious will to live. It’s still touch and go and will continue to be so for probably the next few days. Otto is still quite groggy from the anesthesia and I’d like for either you or Mrs. Paramour to come back and talk to him for a while. It’ll help him to recover knowing his family is here beside him.” The vet paused to collect his thoughts as Mrs. Paramour began to settle down a bit, obviously not sure if she really heard her Otto Baby was still alive. The vet continued, “It’s a really odd wound. It looks like he was impaled with a knife of some sort and not the broken handle of a wooden spoon, but he was lucky, the spoon missed his heart by a mere hairs width as well as his main arteries. He did lose most of his blood volume however, as well as a severely broken wing and leg. We had to amputate both to preserve what blood volume he had left. Otto will be disabled, but should be able to learn to scoot around on a wheelchair for birds, with no problem.”
“Wheelchair for birds?” Mr. Paramour queried.
“It’s a small devise that will strap to and around his body with a post and a wheel at the end so it’ll roll. The Gabriel Foundation has made a few and one of their representatives will contact you in a week, after Otto has gotten through this critical period and survived.”
“Oh, mercy me! Thank the heavens and Mother Mary!!” Mrs. Paramour wailed less hysterically at the news her baby boy had survived and would live.
Meanwhile, back in Byron Georgia, Asha was still very much on edge after her ordeal with Otto. The slightest sounds caused her to start. Because Asa’s Granny was in the hospital having surgery and her Grandpa didn’t pay any attention to her or her flock but to wake them up and put them to bed, Asa knew she had plenty of freedom for the next three days. This freedom she used to her full advantage by spending her days with Asha and reassuring her best friend all would be ok and that she was safe now that Otto was dead and gone.
“I don’t know,” began Asha, “I just have one of those weird feelings this isn’t over just yet.”
“Well, even if it isn’t over yet, I’m here now and we’re going to get you through the recovery process. Stubby’s Mom is going on vacation in two days and by the time my Granny gets home from the hospital, Stubby will be here to sit with you and take care of you. Then, all you’ll have to worry about is your heart skipping a beat due to love.” Asa ended with smirk.
“Watch it, Convicts Chick! I may be a bit of a nervous wreck, but my ninja skills are still in perfect form.” Asha said with a ninja kick that just missed her companions head feathers just to emphasize her point.
“Have you heard back from BabyGirl?” asked Asa as she helped Asha preen a blue feather that had gone awry in the ‘ninja skills’ demonstration.
“Yeah, I have. BabyGirl is keeping an ear to the Underground to see what the news is on Otto. I did hate having to hurt his humans like that. I’m sure it wasn’t their fault Otto was bad. But nothing really yet.”
“What about Cecils birthday party? Is BabyGirl setting that up?”
“Yeah, I think that’s keeping her busier than keeping an ear on the Underground. You know BabyGirl and her parties.”
Asa giggled and the two lady birds settled down side by side for a nap.
It was then that a pigeon named Jorge crashed into Asha’s porch screening, startling both girls out of several feathers.
“BBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!” Asa shrieked as she went instantly and automatically into Psyco Birdie Mode and charged the equally startled Jorge.
“DIE VARMIT!” Asha shrieked at the same time as Asa beeped, fear turned into amazing ninja strength.
“WAIT!!!! I BRING NEWS!!!! I’M JUST A CARRIER PIGEON NAMED JORGE!!! I WON’T HURT ANYONE!!” Jorge hollered over Asa’s ear splitting ‘beep’, but a split second too late.
Asa hit the porch screen with such furry that she sliced through it like hot butter with her razor sharp beak, leaping upon the poor startled harmless Jorge and pinning him to the dirt in one move. Asha, who was just a split second behind Asa, sat on Jorges tail for good measure.
“I’m…..just ……a……..*cough*….carrier pigeon.” Jorge choked out. Asa was pressing a bit hard on his breast bone and Jorge was having a bit of trouble breathing. “I…..bring…*cough-cough*…..a message from Psychotic Maude….*cough*…she says to listen to the Underground…*cough*….contact Dolly….” Jorge concluded, having gotten out the message he’d been asked to deliver.
Asa slowly got up off of Jorge, but remained on guard ‘just in case’. Asha, on the other hand, remained on Jorges tail, ‘just in case’.
“Who’s Psychotic Maude?” asked Asha as Jorge took several really deep breaths, trying to recapture what Asa had just squeezed out of him.
“Psychotic Maude is the Greater Vasa that lives up in Painesville Ohio. She’s one of the messengers of the Underground. She actually is the one who runs the Underground. No messages get through to its recipient without her making sure it’s not some sort of human trap.” Jorge explained as Asha slowly removed her razor sharp talons from his now well frazzled tail. Jorge puffed and fluffed his feathers in a futile attempt to get them back into perfect flying order. He needed a good preening, he thought to himself as he continued, “Dolly is the one holding the message for you, Miss Asha.” Jorge concluded politely and he took flight and in a rather zig-zag pattern as he made his way due north to his next delivery point.
“So, off we fly to Vegas?” Asha asked hopefully. And, not just because she missed her fiancé Stubby, but also because she wasn’t sure how else they would contact Dolly since Dolly wasn’t on BC due to being a human instead of a bird.
“No, I can dial her number, so we can just call her.” Asa said as she climbed back in through the hole she and Asha had created in the window screen.
“Hi AsaMina Sura!” Dolly happily greeted the beep she heard on the other end of the phone line. Although Asa and the Feathered Four spoke perfect English to one another, they spoke in their normal chirps, tweets, and other such standard bird noises to their and other humans. Asa, just to be different, beeped instead of tweeting, chirping or making other such bird noises. Because of this, Dolly always instantly recognized her God-Birdie when she was on the phone.
“Beep. Beep-Beep.” said Asa sweetly
“Asa, I just received this news and it’s not good. Otto has survived his injuries.” Dolly began.
“BEEP!?” Asa inquired incredulously.
“What?” asked Asha, not having heard Dolly’s end of the conversation.
“Yeah, none of us in the Underground could believe it either. Psychotic Maude went totally psycho is currently acting sticky sweet to her human and Jake. Otto is disabled however, and won’t ever fly again. He lost a wing and a leg and he’s confined to a recovery cage for the rest of his hopefully miserable life.” Dolly continued to explain.
“Beep, Beep, Bee-Beep?” asked Asa.
“That’s the message, we don’t know if Asha is still in danger or not. None of us think she is, but we’ve sent Timothy and his wife tickets to the week long bird fair in South Carolina. Eva and her flock will put the threesome up for the whole week. We, the Underground, figure this is the safest thing for Asha at the moment, just until we know what’s going on with Otto.”
“Beep?” asked Asa.
“No, they didn’t do a lobotomy on him that we’re aware of.” Dolly giggled as she hung up the phone.
Asa had Asha, who being an Amazon instead of a tiel, and was heavier than she, stand on the phones ‘hang up button’ so Asa could make one more phone call.
“Are you going to tell me what Dolly said or do I have to beat it out of you?” said Asha.
“One more phone call, then I will.” said Asa as she dialed the number for Bubbers Repair and Fix Everything and hired Bubber to come over and fix the screen. Bubbers Repair and Fix Everything was part of the Underground. Bubber was a man owned by four scarlet macaws that lived out in the peach orchard just north of Byron. He was the ‘go-to’ human when you needed a quick repair before your human arrived home. BabyGirl had used them, the Missouri branch of course, after every party she threw.
Asa explained to Asha her conversation with Dolly. Just as she finished telling Asha about Otto, Bubber arrived and began the repair of the torn patio screen.
“I’ll stay just till I hear your dads SUV drive up, then I’ll have to fly home. Your dad has been already instructed to take you to Auntie Eva’s for the week, so you won’t need me anymore.” Asa continued as Bubber finished the repair and silently slipped away.
“I can’t believe Otto is alive.” Asha shivered.
“Yeah, neither can I.” said Asa with a shiver and a deep sigh. It was just then that Asha’s Dad pulled his SUV into the driveway. “I’ll head out, Asha, you’ll be safe.” Asa said, not sure if her best friend really would be or not. Asa, too had an odd feeling of foreboding in the pit of her stomach.
“Asha Angel,” Asha’s Dad cooed to his little girl as he entered the house, “We’re going to South Carolina to visit Auntie Eva and your cousins Ruby, Leah and Halon.”
Asha shifted her weight on her perch before saying to her Daddy a very happy, clear and welcoming, “Antidisestablishmentarianism tickle tickle.”
“I love you too Asha Baby.” responded her Daddy as he headed down the hall to pack his bags. “We’ll be driving up and we’ll be in the truck for only about four and a half hours, so it shouldn’t be too hard on you. We’ll bring you some almonds to shell and for me to vacuum up later, ok?” Asha’s Dad said, calling from the bedroom to the screened porch where Asha was sitting on top of her cage.
Asha’s foreboding feeling began to intensify. She needed Stubby. She wanted to be in Vegas with him. She wanted her Daddy to turn on the computer so she could leave her fiancé a message on BC.
Meanwhile, back at Asa’s Granny’s house, Asa was hard at work on the computer leaving message after message for Cecil and BabyGirl. She knew something was going to happen, she could feel it, but she couldn’t explain what was to happen. Otto was disabled now, he couldn’t fly, what kind of threat could he be?
In suburban Atlanta Otto sat on his belly in his recovery incubator and boy was he mad. “How on earth could that stupid female and that poor excuse for a Blue Front have gotten the drop on me?! ME!!!” Otto ranted to himself. “I’ll get that Asha. Yeah, I’ll get her and show her she should never ever mess with The Otto!”
He shifted his weight before noticing that his Mom’s human son, Jackson, had entered the room and was coming toward him. “Otto, “ Jackson whispered, “are you doing ok? Mom said you were impaled on that broken spoon she left out? It wasn’t the spoon was it? It was something else. You went after that Asha Blue Front, didn’t you? She did this to you didn’t she? Do you need me to do anything to help you?” Jackson mysteriously ended.
Otto couldn’t believe his ears! How on earth did Jackson know all of this? Did Jackson know about the secret Bird Underground? If so, how? But, if Jackson knew and he really was willing, wouldn’t it be nice if he’d help him get revenge…..
“Twer-tee.” Otto responded in ‘bird’ cautiously.
“Tell me what you want me to do.” Jackson whispered as he looked back over his shoulders to see if anyone, human or other wise had entered the room. Seeing no one, he continued, “Is there a way to find out about Asha and what her weaknesses are?” Jackson asked Otto, still in a whisper.
“We need to check the Bird Underground to find out if they’ve moved her or something. I think I injured her in the fight we had, but I can’t remember. If she’s at the vets recovering, it’d be easy to teach her a lesson and kill her. She deserves to die for doing this to me.” Otto spoke in Human to Jackson.
Jackson didn’t even flinch. It was as if he always knew Otto could speak English and communicate with Humans. To Otto he responded, “I’ll see what I can find out. How should I go about contacting the Underground?”
“You need to reach Psychotic Maude. She’s a Greater Vasa and she’s nuts. Bites all that is within her reach. She runs the Underground with an iron talon. No human has ever gotten past her but her Mom. You need to find another bird who’s brave enough to approach and ask her about Asha. I’m not sure where you’ll find such a bird, but there has to be one.” Otto explained to Jackson, again in Human.
“I’ll go check BC to see if I can find any birds out there that have a grudge against Maude. I’ll go get my laptop and be right back. We can look together as you’ll know more about the messages on BC than I will.” Jackson said, still whispering, and acting like communicating with a Blue Fronted Amazon in English is a perfectly normal every day occurrence.
“Ok my Diva, lets get you and this travel cage into my truck.” Asha’s Daddy groaned as he pushed from one side and his wife pulled from the other, to get Asha’s large travel cage into the back seat of his Jimmy SUV. Once in, her Dad sighed with relief as his wife helped him buckle the cage in place with one strap over the top of the cage and under the back seat and one strap around the front of the cage and around the back of the Jimmy’s back seat. Asha, who wasn’t really thrilled with all the jostling she was being put through, not to mention the stress of Otto surviving, let out a few choice words in Amazon to express her discomfort in the manner her Dad and Mom were treating her Diva self.
Once Asha was secure in the back seat and at least two months worth of bird stuff and barely a weeks worth of human stuff was wedged in the tail-gate section of the Jimmy, Asha, her Dad and Mom headed out the drive and toward I-16 East. Asha settled down as she let the rocking and bouncing of the truck lull her into a state of semi relaxation.
The drove in relative silence and total calm until they turned onto I-95 North at Savannah; it was then something odd began to happen. Out of nowhere ten peach faced lovebirds flew down and dive bombed the Jimmy.
“What on earth?!” Asha’s Dad exclaimed as he wrenched the steering wheel to the right to avoid splattering the lovebirds on the windshield. This sudden motion caused the dozing Asha to fall off her perch with a rather loud crash and screech. “Hold on Asha!” her Dad said much louder than necessary as he straitened the Jimmy back out onto his lane.
The lovebirds circled around and dive bombed the Jimmy a second time, this time succeeding in causing Asha’s Dad to run the Jimmy off the road and onto the shoulder.
“Crazy birds!!!! What on earth are they doing?” Asha’s Dad exclaimed.
Asha knew. It had to be Otto, it just had to be. She wedged herself into the bottom right corner of her travel cage to not only keep from being bounced around as her Dad did his best not to kill the crazy canaries, but to hide. Diva Ninja or not, she was scared, the whole traumatic incident with Otto replaying over and over and over again in her head.
Asha’s Dad managed to get the ageing Jimmy once again onto I-95 and this time he really stepped on the gas pedal, hoping to out run the crazed lovebirds. He managed to convince the Jimmy to maintain a speed of 75 mph as he flew down the highway toward Exit 33 and the last leg of their journey, US-17. Asha continued to cower in the corner of her travel cage. She knew the assault wasn’t over. She was right.
As the Jimmy rattled and bounced down I-95, just a mile before their exit to US-17, Asha’s Dad was startled to hear a police siren approaching from the rear. He looked into his rearview mirror to see a vehicle with light bars flashing in its roof. He did not think he had been speeding, but he began to slow the car and pulled over to the side of the road.
“You better not have been speeding,” Asha’s Mom said to her Dad. “You know what happened to our insurance bill the last time you got caught!”
Asha’s Dad agreed sheepishly as the young man in a police uniform approached the driver’s side.
“Sorry to bother you sir, but I am part of a special team of the South Carolina Highway Patrol checking on the traffic in stolen exotic birds and I had received a report that you might be carrying such a bird in your vehicle,” the officer said. He looked into the back seat and saw Asha’s cage. “Would you please remove this cage from your vehicle so I can inspect this bird?”
Asha’s Dad was confused, but being a law-abiding person, he and his wife unstrapped the cage and placed it on the ground beside the Jimmy. The officer then returned to his car and came back carrying what looked to be a one-legged parrot in a small incubator. The officer opened the incubator and pointed towards Asha’s cage.
“Otto,” the officer said. “Is this the one?”
“That’s her!” squawked Otto from inside the incubator. “That’s her! Kill her Jackson! Kill her!”
The fake officer reached for the gun at his hip but he didn’t get the chance to aim it as the everyone’s ears suddenly rung with the sound of: “KOWABUNGA DUDE!!!!!” yelled Asa as she and BabyGirl appeared out of nowhere and landed on the Jackson’s gun hand.
“You nasty flying rats! Get off of me!!!” Jackson yelled as he tried to shake Asa and BabyGirls iron grip off his left arm.
Meanwhile, the lovebirds had finally caught up with the Jimmy and once again began dive bombing it as Asha’s Dad viewed the entire scene with complete confusion. To protect his family from the crazed lovebirds, he told his wife to get back in the car and he quickly wrestled Asha’s cage into the back seat. He then got in himself, closed the door and watched in amazement as the drama unfolded before him.
It wasn’t more than a split second after Asha’s Dad closed the Jimmy’s driver’s side door to keep from being attacked and bit by the lovebirds that he saw something else totally bizarre fly out of nowhere.
“Here come the Blue Angels! Gangway!!! You’re gonna regret ever messing with our Asha! You’re gonna DIE!!!! Cecil of the Great Budgie Divide! King of all Budgies, King of the Great Budgie Divide has come to eradicate you, you evil human you!!!” yelled Cecil at the top of his not so little lungs as he dove towards the scene at the head of a V formation of blue budgies and one very large yellow cockatiel.
“I’m going to feed you to Lucie and Dessi!” shouted Theodore, a blue budgie from Langley, Canada and good friends of Tyson Parker, one of Asa’s flock, as he referred to his human Grandpas’ two dogs.
“I’m gonna hold you down and let my brother have at you!!” shouted Irwin, Cecil’s little brother, at the same time as Theodore shouted his threat.
“You don’t mess with my family and expect to survive! You’re going to suffer the wrath of Camry’s pet skunk!!!! And, Cleo bites and bites hard!” Shouted the fourth blue budgie, Huey Lewis from San Diego, California and the mate of Cleo, Asa’s older sister.
Cleo had nothing to add, but her siren noise could be heard for miles around.
The Blue Budgie Brigade and Cleo aimed right for the lovebirds and with just the flapping of their wings, sent the lovebirds flying for safety. Cleo managed to grab and yank out the tail feathers of one of them while Cecil and Irwin knocked two with their wings so hard they sent them, totally stunned, into a red maple tree several yards into the woods.
Huey, who didn’t have a vicious or mean bone in his body, found one just big enough to grab one of the lovebirds with his talons, yanking out several feathers and causing the lovebird to yelp and fly off for his own safety. Meanwhile, Cleo went to help her little sister Asa and BabyGirl with Jackson. Cleo bit Jackson on the right ear as Asa bit the left and BabyGirl bit his left hand, which was still holding the shiny gun.
“Darn crazy birds!” Jackson yelled as he continued to try to shake BabyGirl off his hand.
“Not going anywhere!” BabyGirl mumbled with a mouth full of Jackson’s hand, causing him to drop the gun.
When Asha’s Dad saw the gun hit the ground and the flock of blue budgies, two tiels and one orange wing Amazon all attacking the fake police officer who’d just tried to kill his Asha, he wasn’t too sure what to think. With his Jimmy’s doors closed, he couldn’t hear a word of what was going on except for Jackson’s occasional screams as one bird or the other bit him.
“This looks like a deleted scene from ‘The Birds’”, he said to his wife. “Even Hitchcock would have been afraid to put this on film.”
“Maybe we should put some distance between us and this nightmare,” his wife said and Asha’s Dad quickly agreed.
He started up the Jimmy, pulled cautiously back onto the interstate and then off exit 33 onto US-17 where he pressed the gas pedal nearly to the floor to escape the unbelievable scene in his rear view mirror.
“Asha, are you ok, baby girl?” Asha’s Dad cooed toward the back seat.
“Tickle, tickle, hello dear.” said Asha, still feeling uneasy like this still wasn’t over yet, but relieved to be safe and sound at the same time. She knew her Dad did the right thing by staying in the truck with her. She was glad her Dad didn’t get out. The less he knew about Otto and his crazy human brother the better and-hopefully safer-he was. He had rescued her and she wanted to repay him the best she could by keeping him safe too.
“We’ll be at Auntie Eva’s in about 30 minutes.” Asha’s Dad added before going silent. He was concentrating on the road…..and the sky.
Back at the interstate Jackson could tell that he was getting the short end of the deal as he quickly became the object of almost a dozen angry bird’s wrath.
“We got to get out of here Otto,” he shouted as he grabbed the incubator and flung it into the front seat of the fake police car. He jumped in himself and started the car. After flinging a still biting Theodore out the window he started off with a roar and the smell of burning rubber.
“Let him go,” counseled Asa. “We’ll never be able to keep up with him and he’ll think twice before bothering us again.”
“I think it would be a good idea to have the Underground keep their eyes on those two just in case they do get it in their heads to take us on again.” said Cecil.
“Well, at least Asha and her family are safe,” said BabyGirl. “Why don’t we follow them and see if Eva has something to eat? This rescuing is hard work.”
Saturday, February 23, 2008
R.B. Bird Leonardo: January 16, 1991 to November 11, 2006
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Shadow Of The Wing
It was early afternoon and Asha was sitting on one of the many perches in her huge cage-on-wheels with her head tucked under a wing taking a nap. She was dreaming of BabyGirl’s recent Valentine Day’s party and the short time she and her new boyfriend Stubby had spent birdie-beak kissing under a lilac bush.
Asha was a beautiful Blue-Front Amazon parrot with the personality of a Diva, but she had found herself quite smitten with the young bird from Las Vegas and found her thoughts drifting back to the desert city more and more often. She was especially enjoying this current dream when she heard the door to her human’s bedroom open and the voice of her human companion calling her name.
“Asha!” he said. “You have to look at this! They printed your picture in Bird Talk Magazine!”
With the pet industry in the country reaching massive proportions, it seems that every possible companion animal had several magazines and newsletters devoted to their humans. Parrots were no different and Bird Talk was perhaps the most popular devoted to them.
Asha shook her head and fluffed her feathers in irritation at having her thoughts so abruptly torn from their formerly happy source. She gave her human a quizzical look and tilted her head slightly to the left in anticipation of what he had to say.
“Look, it’s your picture in Bird Talk!” he shouted. “Isn’t that great?”
He pushed the open magazine towards Asha and she saw that it indeed had a picture of her in it. It was a nice picture that captured her beauty and intelligence. “As if it couldn’t capture something that obvious,” She thought to herself.
Not wanting to appear too interested in the picture she began preening one of her flight feathers while her human went to find a treat to give her.
“Now the rest of the world will see how beautiful you are,” he said as he handed Asha a peanut.
Asha grasped the peanut in two of her claws as she expertly extracted the nut with her beak and let the hull fall to the floor or her cage.
“Big deal,” she thought to herself. “I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks as long as Stubby thinks I’m beautiful.”
Not far from where Asha and her human lived another Bird Talk subscriber in suburban Atlanta was looking over the same issue when she also noticed the picture of Asha. She was also taken by the beauty of the subject and showed the picture to her Blue-Front named Otto. Otto took one look at the picture and became enraptured with Asha. While birds did not share most of the frailities of the mind that humans possessed, there were still some of them who could be called anti-social. Otto was one of those. He lived in a nice home and had a loving human companion, but there was something dark in the bottom of his heart, and the photo of Asha called to that darkness and he immediately swore to himself that he would possess her, or no other bird would.
Otto waited until his human had left the room and then flew over to her computer. He accessed the Bird Channel web site and entered Asha’s name in the search engine. It quickly brought up her web page and he quickly gathered as much information on her as he could. He saw that she lived less than a hundred miles from his home and quickly decided that he would leave the next morning and fly to her hometown on a surveillance mission.
As Asha tucked her head back under her wing and blissfully went back to sleep and another dream of Stubby, she had no idea that she had just acquired the curse of all human Divas-she had a stalker.
The next day the weather was relatively warm and Asha was spending the day on her screened porch. She had spent the last couple of hours viciously attacking a piñata in her cage and was tired from the efforts and bored with her human being absent. But being a prey animal at heart, she automatically kept a close eye on the surroundings and eventually noticed a strange bird perched on the roof of a nearby house.
Asha was very familiar with the flora and fauna of her neighborhood and this bird did not resemble anything she had ever seen in middle Georgia. In fact, although she could not get a good view due to the distance involved, it looked all the world like a Blue Front Amazon parrot.
The first thought that crossed her mind was that Stubby had for some reason decided to fly all the way from Nevada to surprise her but she quickly discounted that idea. She had just blogged him on the internet that morning and he could have never gotten here in that short of time. It could be BabyGirl, one of her Feathered Friends, but this bird looked larger than her and she was an orange wing. She thought of other blue fronts she knew like Ben and Echo but she didn’t think they would come and visit without telling her. And they certainly wouldn’t just sit on a nearby roof and not drop in.
The more she looked at the strange parrot the more uneasy she felt. Then the strange bird took flight and slowly made its way in Asha’s direction. It circled her hours and then flew off into the distance.
“Glad to see that one gone,” Asha said to herself. But she couldn’t shake a feeling of fear in the pit of her tiny stomach.
Over the course of the next week Asha saw the strange parrot at least three more times. It was always just at the furtherest range of her vision. All it would do was sit and watch her for a while and then fly off. Every time she saw the bird the more menacing it appeared. She finally broke down and contacted the other members of her group and asked them to visit her.
The Four Feathered Friends gathered the next day on Asha’s porch and she told them the story of the menacing parrot. The four of them took flight and scoured the area surrounding Asha’s home but could see no sign of the stranger. They gathered back at the porch and put their beaks together to try to figure out what was happening.
“It would seem that you have a stalker,” said Asa. “I guess that is the price you have to pay for becoming famous.”
“A stalker?” Asha said in shock. “I thought only humans had stalkers. Why would another parrot do that? What would they want, my autograph?”
“No, it is usually much more serious than that,” said BabyGirl. “I remember hearing about that Latina singer a few years ago who was murdered by a stalker. And then there was that tennis player who got stabbed by a crazy fan. This is serious business.”
Just then the four heard the sounds of wings overhead and a rock fell on the roof of the porch. All they could see was the flash of wings heading into the distance.
“Well, whoever it is, they are pretty crafty,” said Cecil. “They were here all the time and we never saw them.”
Asa had flown up to the roof and came back with a rock. Asha noticed that a note was attached to ti and she quickly pulled it off with her beak and read it to her friends.
“Call all the help you want and it won’t help,” the note read. “You will be mine.” The note was signed Otto.
“Otto,” questioned BabyGirl. “Do any of you know anyone named Otto?”
“No,” said Asa. “But I think it’s time we put the Parrot Network to work on this one.”
The Parrot Network was an underground organization of parrots around the world which worked together to aid members of their kind who were in trouble. The four friends had made use of one of the network members named Dolly in their recent Las Vegas adventure.
“I’ll get word to Echo and he’ll put the word out on his radio network,” said Cecil. “He can find out if anyone knows this Otto.”
“But what will we do in the meantime?” asked BabyGirl. “We can’t leave Asha her by herself.”
“Come on guys,” said Asha. “You all are getting a little too dramatic here. All this bird has done is fly around and drop a rock on my roof. We have no reason to believe that he wants to harm me in any way. Maybe all he wants to do is look at me for a while and then he’ll get tired and think of something else to pass the time.
“Anyway, you all can’t stay here forever,” Asha reasoned. “You have your own homes and families. Your humans will miss you and how will you explain this? You go on home and I’ll be just fine.”
The other three were reluctant to leave, but bolstered by Asha’s brave front, they finally agreed and headed to their various homes. But as Asha watched them fly off into the distance, she didn’t feel as nearly as brave as she had let on. In fact, she was terrified for the first time in her life.
The next day Asha was pacing back-and-forth on top of her cage trying to convince herself that she had nothing to be afraid of when her human entered the room.
“Hey honey,” he said. “You got a package in the mail. It must be from that boyfriend of yours in Las Vegas. You better watch out or I’ll get jealous,” he said with a smile as he handed her the package and left the room.
Asha tore open the package and then recoiled in horror. It contained a small Teddy Bear which had had its head tore off. There was a not attached which said: “You don’t need those other birds. I’m all you need.” And it was signed Otto.
Asha was now seriously worried. She flew to the computer and got in touch with Echo. Echo said he had passed the word down the network but nobody had any information on a parrot named Otto. She thanked him for his help and then contacted Stubby in Las Vegas. She had not wanted to burden him with her concerns previously, but now she poured out her heart. Stubby said he would try to get there as soon as possible but he had just checked the Weather Channel and there was a massive winter storm over the Plains States and he would have to fly almost to the Gulf of Mexico to get to her house. He said he would get there as soon as he could but Asha knew it would take at least two days for him to cover the vast distance between their homes. She thanked him and turned off the computer and tucked her head under her wing. Nobody could see, but more than a few tears flowed down her feathered chest as she cried in silence.
Asha was awake all night listening for nay strange noises. More than once she decided to awaken her human and tell him off the situation but she didn’t want to worry him. She realized that this was a parrot problem and had to be solved by parrots. Just before sunrise she heard a scratching sound out on her porch but she was much too scared to go and see what it was. After her human got up and made her breakfast he wheeled her cage onto the porch. She looked around to see if there was any sign of the noise she heard and then she saw something scratched on the floor.
“You are mine or you are dead,” it said. Asha’s human hadn’t noticed anything but she gave a piercing scream when she read the words.
Her human rushed back to the porch to see what had happened and he found Asha cowering in terror in a corner of her cage.
“What is wrong honey,” he asked in concern. “Did one of those mean neighbor dogs try to get at you? You don’t have to worry, they can’t get in here.” He looked around the porch and, seeing nothing out of the way and not noticing the writing on the floor, he left to get ready to leave. He and his wife were leaving for the weekend to attend a funeral out of state.
Asha was almost paralyzed with fear. She had never felt this way. She had faced down humans pointing deadly guns at her in the past without turning a feather but now she was almost out of her mind in fear of this unknown parrot.
“Get a grip girl,” she told herself. “Deep breaths and try to get control.”
Eventually her heartbeat got under control and she flew around the house making sure that all the doors were locked. She then went back to the porch to try and figure out how Otto had gotten in to leave his message. Eventually she found a small hole near the floor where he had apparently been able to chew through the screen and get inside. She tried to push a chair over to cover the opening but was not nearly strong enough. She was beginning to feel panicky again as she knew she would not be able to close the door leading from the porch into the house. Where could she go to be safe?
Then she heard a low laughing sound behind her and she turned to see a parrot hanging onto the screen of the porch just three feet away from her. She had never seen him before, but deep in her tortured heart she instinctively knew it was Otto.
“Hey pretty girl,” Otto said. “Do you want to come out and play?” He then chuckled and flew off.
Asha was about to pass out in panic when she heard the doorbell ring. She flew to the front door and looked out the peephole and saw just about the strangest thing she had ever seen. It was and African Grey parrot in a bird-sized trench coat and a hat.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Asha asked through the door.
“My name is Knuckles and I am here to help you if you’ll let me in,” came a gravelly voice.
Asha threw caution to the wind and opened the door and let the bird in, quickly slamming the door behind her.
“I heard through the network that you were in trouble little girl and I thought I would come and lend a hand,” Knuckles said as he quickly looked around the room. “I hear you got an unwanted friend?”
The words came out of Asha in a flood as she explained what had happened to that point. Knuckles listened quietly and when she was finished he gazed her straight in the eye and said: “Don’t you worry little girl. This guy may think he is pretty tough, but he ain’t nearly as tough as he thinks he is.”
Something about Knuckles made Asha feel better and she soon could feel at least a small part of her usual confidence come flooding back into her.
“Thank you Knuckles,” she said. “What do you think we should do?”
“We sit tight and wait for him to make the next move,” he said as he removed the trench coat and hat and laid them on a sofa. “We got him outnumbered now. As long as we stay together and keep calm we go the advantage on him.”
“If I may so bold as to ask,” Asha said. “What is it with the trench coat. It isn’t that cold outside.”
“Oh that,” Knuckles said with a smile. “I’m a big Humphrey Bogard fan. I guess I’m trying to look like Sam Spade. It’s silly, I know. But it kind of makes me feel a little more confident.”
Asha smiled as she realized that she instinctively liked the Grey.
“Hey, no problem. It looks good on you,” she said with a grin.
The two settled down and talked and played word games to keep themselves alert and awake and night came on. Knuckles would fly around the house occasionally to see if he could catch sight of Otto, but he always returned empty-handed. The two had set-up shop in the kitchen of the house where they could see out into both the front and rear yards.
All of a sudden the two heard a loud noise from the porch.
“That must be him trying to get inside again,” whispered Asha. “What should we do?”
“Well, we don’t split up, that’s for sure,” said Knuckles. “You come with me and let’s go see what that noise was.”
The two waddled down the hall that led into her human’s bedroom. The porch was off that bedroom. Asha heard a scratching sound from above and suddenly a book fell off a shelf and landed squarely on Knuckles’ head, knocking him unconscious.
“I thought I told you not to be going around with other birds,” Asha heard Otto say. She looked up and he was standing on the shelf where the book had come from. “Do you know what happens to birds who don’t do what they are told?”
Suddenly Asha was filled with a fierce feeling of anger and disgust. She had been doing nothing but acting afraid of this parrot the whole time. Now was not the time for fear, it was the time for action.
“No, but I do know what happens to scum like you,” she said as she flew up at Otto, claws first.
The two fought for what seemed like minutes but was really just a few seconds. Asha had the upper hand until she slipped while trying to grab a piece of molding and Otto hit her on the side of her head and she fell to the floor. He quickly pounced on top of her and held his claws to her face.
“Say your prayers little girl,” Otto said with a sneer. “Your cover girl days are over,” he said as he raised his claws to strike.
But the strike never came and as Asha looked on in shock a knifepoint suddenly appeared in his chest and he fell over as his blood spurted all over the semi-conscious bird.
Almost in a daze Asha heard a familiar voice say, “Hasta Le Vista asshole.” And over the dead bird’s body she saw Stubby standing in the hallway with the handle of the knife in his claws.
“Sorry,” he said with a smile. “Those headwinds were a bitch.”
The rest of the night was a blur as Asha fell sobbing into Stubby’s arms and he comforted her. Knuckles work up soon after and felt awful for letting Otto get the drop on him but Asha and Stubby both did their best to make him feel better.
“If it hadn’t been for you I would have never had the time to get here,” said Stubby. “You saved my girl’s life and I’ll always be in your debt.”
Knuckles said he would take care of Otto’s body. He said the network would arrange to have it returned to his human with a suitable story that would cover up his crime.
As Knuckles left he turned back and, smiling at Asha, tipped his hat and said: “Here’s looking at you, kid!”
“Well, I better get going,” said Stubby as Knuckles flew off. “My human will be worried if I’m gone for too long and the weather going back won’t be much better.”
Asha looked into his dark eyes and smiled.
“I really don’t know what to say,” she said quietly. “But I think you know what I want to say.”
Stubby leaned over and picked up one of his tail feathers which had come out during the fight.
“You keep this as a sign of how I feel for you,” he said as he lightly brushed Asha’s beak with his. He then turned and started flying west to his home. But from now on they both knew that they would never really be apart.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The Asha Chronicles
By Julie Anne and Tim
February 11, 2008
It’d been a quiet few weeks for The Feathered Four, something which they were all grateful for. Cecil was still quite traumatized from witnessing the brutal murder of Sammy the African Grey and the anger of the other three of the team still raged hot, although, as the weeks had passed, the anger had begun to cool a bit. Asa had remained in touch with her teammates via Bird Channel, but none of them really had much to say.
It was a Wednesday morning and Asa’s Grandma was home, sewing, as always. She had quite the order to fill and Asa had done her job of picking out the fabric. Asa’s Grandma was a rather hopeless case when it came to color coordination and so if the humans would actually want to look at and buy her Grandma’s creations, the job for fabric picking fell to the co-owner of Diamondmeenuh Creations, Miss. AsaMina Sura, her one and only self.
Earlier that morning, before the speed sewing began, Asa’s Grandma logged onto BC for her. Asa had an odd message she was still pondering over as she watched her Grandma knot the thread to the lime green and gold floral fabric. It was from one of Edgar Allan’s BC friends, Poirot, about voting for his friends sibling cat Snickers to win Cat of the Month on The Cat Channel. This, in and of itself wasn’t odd since a lot of BCers had siblings with fur and often asked their fellow feathered ones to stuff the ballot box for them so their sibling could win the honor. Asa, who’d been a member of BC since the beginning, she was the 357th member, had never won nor had every had anyone stuff the ballot box for her, but she really didn’t care either. Although, she understood the drive to win for the others and often had her Grandma place a vote for those who queried, it just wasn’t important to her. It was odd, however, that she was asked and not Edgar Allan. Poirot and Asa really didn’t know one another and she never recalled leaving him any messages before either.
As she pondered this odd message this morning, her Grandma logged onto Cat Channel and found Snickers and read out loud, “Snickers, an invisible short haired tabby who loves catnip and Doritos, preferably at the same time. Snickers is the museum mascot in Little Rock, Arkansas, and loves all the people who work there because they leave out toys and treats for her and give the most fabulous ear skritches an invisible cat could wish for. Snickers was rescued from the Invisible Cat No-Kill Shelter.” Asa’s Grandma concluded as she scrolled to the top of the page to place their vote, “An invisible cat. Different, but then Diamond Sunshine hatched out of a sterile egg, so why not.” Grandma ended as she clicked out of Cat Channel and back onto BC.
“An invisible cat? Asa continued to ponder as she began to doze off in her Grandma’s ponytail. Her Grandma was sewing so fast it was beginning to make Asa a bit dizzy. “An invisible cat from a no-kill shelter? Wasn’t Bad Guy, oh, what was that humans name the owl sentenced to community service….Earl…..” Asa fell into a deep but uneasy sleep.
“Baby-Asa” came a very familiar voice.
“Daddy?” asked Asa with a huge yawn. Baby-Asa is what her Grandma and God-Mommy Dolly had called her egg before she hatched. The only one who called her Baby-Asa after she hatched was her father, R.B. Bird.
“Yes, Baby-Asa, it’s me. I need for you to listen to me, it’s very important.” R.B. Bird said as he appeared in a cloud just above where she was perched.
“Where am I?” asked Asa as she looked around and noticed her Grandma was gone, replaced by a mossy tree located in a deep, damp, dark forest in which Asa was now perched.
“You’re over the Rainbow Bridge.” R.B. Bird simply stated, his outline now visible above her.
“I’m dead?” she asked, totally perplexed.
“No, Baby-Asa, you’re very much alive, but there are things you and your friends need to learn before more critters cross over to the Rainbow Bridge before their time.” R.B. Bird said in his best impersonation of Splinters of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fames voice.
“Asha, BabyGirl and Cecil are coming over the Rainbow Bridge, too? How do we…did we…get here if we’re not dead?”
“That’s not important, my child. What is important is to pay attention and listen. Those you seek will come to you in human form, only you will remain in your earthly form. Watch and listen. So much is depending on you, my Baby-Asa. Go forth from this forest to the west. Your journey will begin there.” R.B. Bird ended, still using his impersonation of Splinters voice, and disappeared.
Asa, still very confused and bewildered, did as her father had asked and took off toward the west. She’d flown for about 13 miles through the woods, dodging dangling damp slimy moss and grotesquely bent entwined branches before daylight finally became visible before her. Asa stopped to catch her breath on a bit of slimy moss on the last branch of the last tree on the edge of the forest. She listened intently as she perched. Somewhere off in the distance she heard music playing. Odd music as it was from Pink Floyds The Wall being played on what sounded like Ukulele’s. Asa shook her head, but the lilting strains of the song didn’t dissipate. She took flight once again and headed toward the music, due west.
It wasn’t much further when she came upon a small medieval town. Sulfur Crested Cockatoos dressed as jesters with argyle socks in vivid shades of violet, cobalt and emerald green danced in the streets with the Ukulele’s as they played the psychedelic rock. Asa also noted several humans roaming around. One, although very unfamiliar, looked extremely familiar at the same time. She flew closer and landed on the wooden arm of the porch swing the human sat upon.
“Asa, you’re here! Fantastic!” Said the voluptuous and curvy blond with her long flowing hair highlighted with pale blue streaks. “It’s odd being human, but I still feel very much myself, just more ‘diva’ if you know what I mean.”
“Asha?” Asa asked the curvy blond adorned in a low cut silken emerald green gown that hid none of her curves, just accentuated them beautifully.
“It’s me. Totally Diva me.” Said Asha with a toss of her blond tresses.
“Why am I still a tiel and you are a human? How on earth did you get changed? How on earth did you get here?” Asked Asa almost too quickly to be understood.
“Sit on an ice cube, Asa and chill! Rosalie contacted me while I was napping. Dads team is losing again. First he fell asleep, then I did. Then I woke up here.” said Asha in her most Diva like tone with a smidge of Marilyn Monroe tossed in.
“BabyGirl and Cecil? Have you seen them?” Asked Asa as she tried to process her best friend as a human.
“Nope, haven’t seen them. Rosalie told me to wait here, so here I wait.” said Asha simply.
“My Daddy Bird got a hold of me. Grandma was making me dizzy with her speed sewing again and I dozed off in her ponytail and woke up in a really nasty slimy forest not too far from here. My Daddy Bird told me to come here, but didn’t say why. I think he’s watched too much Ninja Turtles, to tell the truth.” Asa offered as her explanation to why she was here in this medieval town.
The Sulfur Crested Too’s began to play Elton Johns Crocodile Rock on their Ukulele’s as an enormous and muscular male human approached them.
“Asa, it’s me, Cecil.” said the six foot nine inch extremely muscular human male. “You’re still a tiel?” Cecil added as he sat beside Asha on the porch swing. The swing groaned a bit under the added weight, but didn’t break. “Asha, is that you?” he asked the Diva he’d just sat down next to.
“It’s me and I have no clue why Asa’s still a tiel either. Have you seen BabyGirl?” Asha asked and she eyed every inch of the stud muffin to her left, only momentarily forgetting Stubby was waiting for her back home.
“No, all I saw was Asa’s father, R.B. Bird. He brought me here. He said I needed to be as big as I am inside. He told me I’d need it later on. Boy is that one scary dude, Asa! I’d hate to meet your Dad in a well lit pet store!” Cecil explained as an orange winged Amazon flew up to them and landed daintily next to Asa.
“Howdy y’all.” BabyGirl greeted in her best southern drawl.
“You’re still a bird, too?” asked Asha, Asa, and Cecil simultaneously.
“Yeah.” BabyGirl began as she abruptly realized that two of her flock mates were human, “You’re not birds, you’re human?” she added puzzled.
“Yeah, we don’t get it either, but it is what it is.” explained Cecil.
“Who brought you here?” Asa asked BabyGirl.
“Rosalie. Didn’t she bring you here, too?” answered BabyGirl
“No, my Daddy Bird brought me and Cecil. Rosalie brought Asha, however.” Asa explained.
“We’re all here, now what?” asked the voluptuous and curvy blond Asha.
The answer to their questions didn’t come from one of them or from where they expected. It came, actually, from the least expected of places, Sammy the African Grey. The Sulfur Crested Toos began to play the Hokey-Pokey on their well worn but well tuned Ukulele’s as they danced past The Feathered Four and up the street, apparently to get the holes in their argyle socks darned at the local sock shop, as Sammy the African Grey flew up and landed on the porch railing before the four bewildered friends.
“Thank you, Asha, for rescuing my body and giving me a funeral and honoring me so. Thank you all of you for all you did for me. It’s because you’re hearts are so pure that I’ve asked R.B. Bird and Rosalie to bring you here over the Rainbow Bridge. I need to ask you to do all of us over here and those not meant to be here just yet, a big favor.” Sammy began humbly.
“Is this what it’s always like here? Some birds turned to human?” asked Cecil in a deep masculine voice.
“No, Cecil, it’s not. What you see here is what we here over the bridge have created for you. You can’t see the real thing till it’s your time and that won’t be for a very long time for any of you.” Sammy explained, before continuing with his story and favor, “My human, Earl, is doing as Oppenheimer, the owl judge, commanded him. He is working at that no-kill shelter, but he’s also still harming the animals and has killed many that were going to be adopted into good loving homes to live out what would have been a long happy life.” Sammy paused a moment to preen a wayward itchy feather on his back before continuing, “Earl has broken into the drug cabinet at the shelter many times, taken the drugs and needles and euthanized a dozen cats, twenty one dogs, and sixteen birds. Earl needs to be taught a more permanent lesson and that’s where we over the rainbow bridge need you to help.”
“How?” asked Asha, still a bit confused at the scene playing out before her.
“I’m leaving that up to you and what you feel is best to remedy the situation. Asha, you’ve appeared here, over the rainbow bridge, as a human bombshell because that is your gift to this group, your beauty and your muscle. Cecil, you too, are here in human form so you can see for yourself your gift to this group, your strength, not just in your size, but in your mind. It’s your mind and your ability to use human speech that help this group fight immorality and win. BabyGirl and Asa, you arrived here in bird form, not human form because you already know your hearts and we didn’t feel you needed to see for yourselves the gifts you bring. BabyGirl, you’re the muscle in the group and Asa, you are very much your father and are the brains of the group. Listen to your heart, your father will guide you.” as soon as Sammy ended he vanished.
A pair of Rainbow Lorikeets appeared from around the corner of the clock and doll fix-it shop each playing a lute and singing one of the Dixie Chicks number one songs, ‘Goodbye Earl’“…She held Wanda's hand as theyworked out a planAnd it didn't take 'em long to decideThat Earl had to dieGoodbye EarlThose black-eyed peasThey tasted all right to me EarlYou're feelin' weakWhy don't you lay downand sleep EarlAin't it darkWrapped up in that tarp Earl?” sang the Rainbow Lorikeets as they toddled past the Feathered Four and down the street toward the Fruit and Veggie Saloon.
“Time to Ninja us some bad guys.” said Asha the bombshell deviously as she rubbed her gracefully long fingers together like she was trying to wash the evil off of her hands.
“Time to Ninja us some bad guys!” chorused Asa and BabyGirl gleefully.
“How do we get out of here?” asked Cecil logically.
“AsaMina Sura, baby girl.” Grandma cooed as she offered Asa her finger, “Grandma needs to make dinner and you need to go in and eat some of your Mush.”
Asa obligingly stepped up onto her Grandma’s finger and let her Grandma kiss her back one too many times as she carried her back to her cage, then closed her door, and left the room to prepare dinner.
“Need to get to the rest of the crew.” Asa said as she easily opened the door to her cage. Her Grandma only locked her in if they had a lot of company or she left the house. Asa’s Grandma had also left the computer on, so it was fairly easy for the 93 gram bundle of sleek cinnamon brown feathers to log herself onto Bird Channel and leave Asha, Cecil and BabyGirl messages to meet at the old barn where Oppenheimer the old barn owl lived.
When Asa arrived at the barn she was almost surprised to see three parrots there to meet her. Asha was her usual green-feathered self while Cecil as resplendent in his sky blue coat. BabyGirl was similar in appearance to Asha except she was a little smaller and had more blue around her face.
“You look surprised to see us Asa,” Asha said with a knowing smile.
“It isn’t that I’m surprised to see you, it’s just that I’m surprised to see you in this form. The last time I saw you, you looked more like Marilyn Monroe than a parrot,” Asa said.
“I know, and Cecil was quite a bit different too,” Asha said with a grin directed at the budgie. “I always knew you had a large personality, but Dad’s favorite basketball team could use you in a big way.”
Cecil just grinned and scratched at the floor of the barn. It always seemed that he got a little tongue-tied when he was in Asa’s presence.Just then the four heard a deep and distinguished voice from a corner of the barn.
“Welcome my four friends,” said Oppenheimer. “I am so sorry that I had to go to these great lengths to gather you again, but the need is great.”
“We heard what has happened,” said Asa. “We had hoped that Earl had learned his lesson but it appears that some humans have harder heads than others.”
“I know we all agreed to try to rehabilitate Earl, but I think that now we need to end this once and for all,” said Asha with a cold fury in her voice. “It was bad enough what he did to Sammy, but now he is continuing to send animals to the Rainbow Bridge way before their time.”
“I’m afraid that you may be right Asha,” Oppenheimer said with a deep sadness in his voice. “I’ve talked to many others both here on Earth and over the bridge and we have reluctantly agreed that Earl is too big of a threat. Many of the animals he has euthanized could have found wonderful Forever Homes just as you four have.”
“You all are probably right, but I can’t help but remember what my granny once told me,” said Asa. “If you keep trading an eye for an eye everyone ends up blind.”
“Before my Dad took me in, the family that previously had me was ready to take me to a shelter just like the one Earl is working at,” Asha hissed. “I could have been one of the birds he stuck a needle in. I saw that Rainbow Bridge was a nice place, but I’m not ready to go there yet and while I have breath in my body, I’ll not see another helpless animal make that trip before their time. Are you with me?”
“We’re with you!” The other three said in unison as they took flight out of the barn door.
“Such courage and passion in such small bodies,”Oppenheimer said to himself as he shook his large and distinguished head. “And humans think of them as ignorant pets. Fly Free Feathered Friends!”
As the four friends flew towards the shelter Cecil turned to BabyGirl and whispered: “Hey, have you ever seen that human movie Star Wars?”
“No, why?” asked BabyGirl.
“That Oppenheimer sounds just like the character they called Darth Vader,” Cecil said.
“Oh, was he the hero?” she asked.
“No, that’s what worries me,” Cecil said.
When they arrived at the shelter they split up and scouted out the surroundings. After a few minutes they gathered together on the limb of a poplar tree and compared notes.
“It looks like we are lucky,” said Asa. “It is night and it appears that Earl is here by himself. But we need to figure out what to do next because it looks like he is about to euthanize another animal.”
The four flew to a rear window that looked in a small room. They could see that Earl had strapped a large Siamese cat to a table and was about to inject the hissing animal with poison.
“We have to do something quick,” said Asha. “Can you get that window open Convicts Chick?”
“Not for a minute or two, it must be specially locked since this is the room with the chemicals,” Asa said with panic in her voice. “Can you chew through that concrete Cecil?”
“The concrete is no problem, but there is plenty of rebar and that is a tough job,” Cecil said between mouthfuls of concrete dust.
“Wait!” shouted BabyGirl. “Look, something strange is happening.”
The four looked on as Earl suddenly stopped short of injecting the terrified cat. His hand jerked back and, obviously against his will, he injected himself with the poison and fell to the floor. His body jerked a couple of times and then he lay deathly still.
“What the heck did we just see?” asked a puzzled Asha.
Suddenly the wispy form of a short-haired tabby cat appeared before them. “Hello friends, my name is Snickers and I am the mascot at the museum by the River Walk in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am an invisible cat,” the spectral form said as if she introduced herself that way all the time.
“You’re the one who sent me the email,” Asa said with wonder in her voice. “Did you do that to Earl?”
“Yes I did,” said Snickers. “I had tried many times to stop him from murdering my friends, but when you arrived your courage and great hearts gave me the strength to reach out and do what had to be done. I could tell that killing a living creature was repugnant to you, no matter how you blustered,” she said with a wink at Asha. “So when I saw I had the strength to do it myself I took action.”
They then heard the whisper of large wings as Oppenheimer took his place on the limb beside them. “You see now the good you can do in this world,” he intoned. “Not only can you right wrongs yourselves, but you can give others the strength to right them too.”
Oppenheimer then turned to Cecil and said with a smile. “As for you little one, Darth turned out to be a good guy in the end!” The great owl took wing as Snickers disappeared from view.
“Well, I guess we better do something with that body,” said BabyGirl. “But aren’t there are going to be a lot of questions about what happened to him?”
“I don’t think so,” said Asa. “As one of my granny’s favorite songs goes ‘it turned out he was a missing person nobody ever missed.’”
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I've never been awarded before and am very honored and will try to do the award justice. The five blogs I award are (tiels flapping wings instead of drum roll since the drum roll would scare said tiels)................
1. Carla and Tami's Scrappin Sisters Passionately Pink blog talks about their lastest effort to help raise money for breast cancer research, a subject rather close to my heart. Both Carla and Tami also have other blogs where they discuss family and their passion for scrap booking--something I'd love to master. Probably need to lighten up on the glue a bit......
2. Vicki of Parrotisebeads blog is just getting started, but what she's posted is eloquent and enjoyable to read. A bit about her, a bit about our AREtys meet and greet and two stunning pictures of her beautiful African Grey and two Sun Conures! Yeah, Vicki is also owned by birds.
3. Erin of snowman fame has a great blog to read when you need a smile. Toilets currently line her banner and that sense of humor is carried through each blog entry. Always recommended as a good read and a gaurenteed giggle.
4. The BeadedBombshell , aka Dianna, employs the universal language of music and picture (video) in her blog. I love the creativity and thought she puts behind each of her posts. Also a great blog to visit on a 'need a pick me up' kinda day.
5. Laurie of Isinglass Design's blog is where you want to go to see her latest amazing lampwork beads. She's also the one who made me my AREtsy Valentine swap gift of three little tiel glass beads that I'm STILL doing a happy dance over (and Cleo is still trying to convince me the one that looks like her is really hers and not mine---have it hung out of tiel reach for the moment)
Ok, now I'm supposed to type out the fine print:
---Blog awardees must mention the name of their awarder (little old me) on their blog with a link.
--- Blog awardees must then honor 5 other blogs with awards.
This was fun! Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program......
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Flight of Feathers
by Tim Graham
Murder Most Fowl
Parrots are very social creatures. In the wild they travel together in flocks that can number in the thousands. They fly together in patterns that are amazing in their intricacy and colorfulness. Those parrots who have become human companions do not have the option to join a flock. So, in the spirit of the human phrase which states that ‘When in Rome…’ they have picked up a human custom.
They love to party.
BabyGirl, one of the Feathered Friends, had picked Valentine’s Day to host a party of her many friends from the Bird Channel. In the spirit of the date, she decided to host a Couples Party. Her special beau Ben would of course be there as would fellow FF Asha and her new Las Vegas friend Stubby. The other two Friends-Asa and Cecil-were coming without dates but, like was already mentioned, birds love any excuse to party.
BabyGirl lives in a suburb of Kansas City, not too far from Asa’s home in Arkansas. It was pretty well centrally located for most of the BC crowd and BabyGirl was widely renowned for her ability to throw a good party.
Birds began arriving at first light and continued to show up as the day went by. The birds entertained themselves by playing games such as Avian Idol and Tag. Tag was a special favorite among the group as it allowed some to show off their acrobatic flying skills. Ben was a proven master at this game and, as usual, he took first place and a well-earned Beak Kiss from BabyGirl. There were also prizes given for the Cutest Couple and for the bird who flew the furtherest.
Asha, who had spent at least two days prior to the party primping and making sure that her feathers were especially resplendent, had sworn that she and Stubby would win the Cutest Couple prize. They had tough competition from a pair of Blue Winged Macaws, but they took the competition by two votes.
“Whew,” Asha said to Stubby after the voting was announced. “That was closer than I would have liked.”
“I never knew you were such a Diva,” said Stubby with a grin. “I didn’t think you country girls were like that.”
Asa had overheard Stubby’s remark and dropped beside the two.
“One thing you will learn if you stay together with our Ninja Diva is that the only thing she loves more than beating up bad guys is looking good,” Asa said. “I hear she has worn out three mirrors already practicing her ninja kicks. She wants to make sure she shows just enough leg….”
Asa’s commentary was cut rudely short as one of those self-same kicks barely missed her head.
“You better watch out there Convict Chick, I sharpened my talons especially for this party,” Asha said with a chuckle.
The three grabbed a perch in a nearby bush as Asa started telling Stubby stories of their past adventures, stories which centered on Asha’s desire to look as good as possible. Asha, though embarrassed, could not deny any of the stories and it was hard to tell if Stubby was hearing much of what was said as intently as he was looking at Asha’s green, yellow, and blue feathers.
Cecil was sitting on a nearby branch but his eyes were directed differently than Stubby’s. He couldn’t take them off Asa. Although Cecil was a budgie and Asa a cockatiel, it was obvious that his heart belonged solely to Asa. The problem was that Cecil, although he had the personality of a bird ten times his size, he was totally tongue-tied when he got around Asa. As he watched the object of his affections talking with Asha and Stubby, Cecil sighed and flew listlessly away.
Cecil finally landed in a maple tree a couple of blocks away from BabyGirl’s house. He had come to the conclusion that attending the party had been a bad idea and was about ready to fly back and tell everyone goodbye when he heard a noise from a neighboring house. The noise sounded to him like a bird crying so he glided to the window the sound had come from.
What Cecil saw was a sickening shock. A human was holding a Congo African Grey parrot in his hand as he shouted.
“I told you to shut up you stupid bird!” the human said. “I need to get some sleep so I can go to work but I can’t with you squawking all the time! I should have had my head examined for letting my wife ever get you. You are nothing but trouble!”
The human tried to throw the bird to the floor but the parrot instinctively grabbed on to the man’s hand with his talons.
“Yikes!’ The man shouted. “That hurts.” He began shaking the bird which tried to escape the man’s clutches by biting his hand repeatedly.
“That’s all the crap I will take from you,” the man shouted as he dropped the bird and grabbed his bleeding hand. “You’re one dead birdy.”
The man left the room and soon returned with a baseball bat. To Cecil’s horror, after several attempts, he was finally able to hit the parrot and kill it. The man took the bird’s body and dumped it in the trash can.
Cecil was almost paralyzed in fear and anger. He flew into the air and circled the neighborhood for several minutes trying to figure out what to do. Deciding that this was obviously a job for the Feathered Friends, he turned towards BabyGirl’s house with a heavy heart and a red-hot anger.
Cecil arrived back at Baby-Girl’s house as several of the partygoers who had the furthest to travel were beginning to leave. He was able to gather the hostess along with Asha and Asa alone under a maple tree in the front yard. The four could tell that the small bird had been through a serious trauma so they kept quiet until Cecil was able to tell his story. Once he could it all spilled out at once.
“Well, this one should be simple,” growled Asha. “This one will be bloody.”
“Wait,” said Asa. “Get a hold of yourself. You can’t just fly off and try to kill this guy. That’s not what we are all about. We bring the bad guys to justice, we don’t just take the law into our hands.”
“But this is different,” said Asha. “This is way different. Before it was humans threatening other humans. This time it is a human deliberately murdering one of our own. The crime is against us and it is our law we turn to. The law of the jungle.”
“ I don’t know Asha,” said an obviously conflicted BabyGirl. “Maybe Asa is right. Maybe we should just call the police and report the crime. They can gather the evidence and arrest this awful person.”
“Right,” sneered Asha. “And what do you suppose the punishment is for a human to murder a parrot? They would laugh that out of court. You all need to open your eyes to what is happening in the world. Killing birds is a SPORT in this country! If we had been born quail or ducks in this country, humans could hunt us down with guns.”
“Asha is right,” said Cecil. “You could have seen the look in that guys’ eyes. He didn’t even consider that poor bird a living creature. He deserves whatever he gets.”
“Are you suggesting we kill this human?” asked Asa quietly. “Do we descend to his level and play by his rules? Is that what you are suggesting?”
“No,” said Asha. “The temptation is strong but no, we won’t go there. But we can make him very sorry he ever raised his hand to that poor creature.”
“In that case I have an idea of what we can do,” said Asa with a grim smile on her face. “I just need to contact an old friend of mine and we can be ready to get to work before too long. We won’t be able to do anything until tomorrow night so do you think you all could stay over until then?”
The other three agreed to stay the night at BabyGirl’s house. They slept inside but had to go outside when BabyGirl’s mom got up to feed her birds and clean their cages. The four did not want her to know they were there so she wouldn’t get implicated in what they were planning. After the human went to work the four friends spent the rest of the day planning their actions for that evening as well as catching up on events in their lives. Truth be known, they spent most of the day napping and preening each other’s feathers but that wouldn’t sound very heroic, would it?
Their first move that evening was to go over to the home of their target. Cecil slipped up to one of the houses’ windows and checked inside. He quickly whistled for the others to join him and they peeked inside to see him slumping in a chair with a whiskey bottle lying empty beside his chair.
“This is working out better and better,” said Asa. “I figured we would have to raid a drugstore to get something to confuse his mind but he has done that for us.”
“It doesn’t take much to confuse the mind of someone like him,” hissed Asha. “Let’s get the show on the road. Just looking at this thing makes me feel dirty.”
A few minutes later the drunken human stirred and lurched awake as Cecil threw a cup of water on his face. But the man did not pay any attention to Cecil, he was too busy looking at Asha who was perched on the mantle over the fireplace. Asha was covered in dust and, in the poor light, resembled the recently murdered parrot.
“Where did you come from?” asked the confused and drunk human. “I took care of you yesterday. What are you doing there?”
“Nevermore,” was all Asha said.
The man began to walk towards Asha when, to his left, he heard the same word spoken from the kitchen by BabyGirl.
“What is going on here?” the man pleaded as he staggered into the kitchen to find nothing. He looked around frantically and then heard from just outside the open rear door to the house.
“Nevermore!” spoken this time by Cecil.
The man staggered out the door when he heard the mantra spoken by Asha again just round the corner of the house. In this manner the four were able to guide the drunken and frightened man to an abandoned shed just down the block. When he ran inside he turned as he heard the door shut behind him and was then transfixed by the sight of an enormous barn own perched on a windowsill in the far wall of the shed.
The man was scared practically out of his wits by this time. He silently did as he was told as Asha hissed at him to sit down and keep quiet.
“You have committed a crime against all living creatures,” said the owl in a deep, quiet voice that inspired awe in the human. “The only crime that bird committed was to act like a bird. The punishment you imposed for that crime was death. It could be said that your only crime was to act like a human. You showed stupidity, arrogance, and impatience; all of the best traits of the human race.
“It would perhaps be only fair for us to impose the punishment of death on you just as you did to your bird,” the owl intoned. “But that is not our way. We try to be fair. We know that each and every life on this planet is precious and not ours for the taking. It may be that you will be further punished when you leave this life; that is not ours to know or judge.
“I sentence you to perform twenty hours a week community service at the local animal rescue shelter every week for the remainder of your sorry life,” the owl said. “If you fail to do this, a sentence of death will be carried out. Know you now that every animal in the world now knows what you have done,” the owl said in a rising voice. “If you do not carry out your sentence you will be killed. Whether the sentence is carried out by a bird, a snake, a dog, or an elephant, it makes no difference. Do you understand this sentence?”
“Yesssss…..I do,’ the man stammered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I’m so sorrrrrryyyy….” The human began to cry in great racking sobs as the assembled birds flew away.
The four friends thanked the owl for his help and gathered back at BabyGirl’s house.
“Do you think he will do the community service?” asked Cecil. “Can we trust him?”
“I think so,” said Asa. “His spirit was pretty well broken. And if he doesn’t, well, I guess we will just have to think of something else.”
“Yeah, how about a talon sandwich,” said Asha. “I’m betting that if I make that face of his look like hamburger it will remind him of what he did every morning when he looks in the mirror,”
“Well, the sun is just about ready to come up,” said Asa. “You said you wanted us to make sure to be together now, Asha. What is on that blue-fronted mind of yours.”
“Yeah, we did just about all we could to settle accounts for that poor bird killed by that guy,” Asha said quietly. “But there is one more thing we need to do” she said as she reached under a fern and pulled out the mangled body of the African Grey.
“I was able to pull his body out of that trash can and I found a band around his foot,” Asha said. “His name was Sammy,” she said before having to pause to compose herself.
“I think he deserves a proper sendoff to the Rainbow Bridge,” Asha said.
The four used their talons to scratch out a small hole in the dark loam of the garden behind BabyGirl’s house. They lovingly placed Sammy’s body in the hole and covered him with dirt.
“Fly free, brave Sammy, Fly free!” Asa said.