This is Part 5 of the Asha Chronicles. In this episode the plight of animal abuse is touched upon and then humanely delt with. This particular chapter of the Asha Chronicles was written completely by Tim. But, the story of Sammy and his bad human don't end here, they will be continued in Part 6 of the Asha Chronicles (to be posted later on), where Tim and I collaborate together with Denise Felton 's own addition to the story, an invisible cat named Snickers who is the mascot at the museum in which she works. You'll just have to stay tuned to see what happens in Part 6. For now, enjoy Part 5
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.