Ah the age old 'sports hero' delema. Steriods and lifestyles we really don't want to hear about as we, as humans in general, like to put our hero's up on a pedistal and think they can do no wrong.
Read on to find out how 2 Amazons, 1 Cockatiel, and 1 Budgie, other wise known as The Feathered Friends, deal with this particular issue.....
The Asha Chronicles Part 11
Feet of Clay
February 26, 2008
Julie Stilwell and Timothy Graham
Asha was spending the day doing her favorite thing: napping in the fresh air.
Her Dad had rolled her cage out to their screen porch a couple of hours before and since then she had had been sitting on one of her many perches slipping into and out of sleep. There is one no-fault way you can tell if a parrot is feeling safe and secure: if they stand on their perch on one foot with the other tucked under a wing. Asha was definitely sitting on one leg.
There was only one tiny dark cloud barely on the horizon of her thoughts. Her Daddy’s birthday was coming up and she wanted to get just the PERFECT gift for him. She had racked her brain but couldn’t think of just the right thing. She had tried asking her Momma but she didn’t understand Parrot language and Asha couldn’t talk human to her. Some parrots could communicate with humans in special circumstances, but Asha and her Momma did not click. Anyway, Asha was slightly jealous of her Daddy’s wife, although she would never admit it.
She peeked through the French Doors into her Daddy’s bedroom where he was watching a baseball game on his 50-inch Hi-Def television. Asha knew it had been a gift to him from his wife and that was a spur for her to try to get him something even better!
Asha was able to figure out that his Braves were two runs down in the bottom of the ninth. There were two runners on base and two outs. His favorite player Johnny Flynn was coming to the plate.
“You can do it Johnny,“ her Daddy hollered. “Show those stupid Mets who’s boss!”
Suddenly Asha heard a loud crack and her Daddy jumped into the air and started doing a crazy dance.
“I knew it” he shouted. “We’re in like Flynn! Braves in first place!” He whooped a couple of more times before collapsing back into his chair.
All of a sudden a light went on inside Asha’s green, yellow, and blue feathered head.
“Humans like mementos of their sports heroes,” Asha said to herself. “If I can get Dad something to remind him of this Johnny Flynn guy, he would really appreciate it. That would really show Momma who is the Top Bird around this house!”
Asha waddled to the family computer while her Dad was still doing war dances and watching replays of his hero’s home run. Asha contacted the other three members of the Feathered Friends and asked them to meet her outside Turner Field in Atlanta at the statue of Hank Aaron.
The next morning Asha found herself perched lightly on the bat of Hammerin’ Hank while she waited for her friends to show up. Before long a small, blue Budgie flew up and took his place on the bill of Aaron’s cap.
“How’s it going Cecil,” Asha asked. “Nice day for a ball game isn’t it?”
“I guess so, but I’m more of a football fan. I always thought that if I had been born a human I would be a big defensive lineman,” Cecil said. The words would almost have been hysterically funny since they came from a bird who barely weighed 41 grams. But Cecil had the spirit of a giant and Asha could well imagine him sacking a quarterback.
Next to arrive was BabyGirl. She was an Amazon like Asha and she took station in Hank’s shoulder as she began preening her feathers.
“This is such a dirty city,” BabyGirl complained. “My boyfriend Ben would turn his beak up at me if he saw how filthy I was!”
The final member of the group to make an appearance was a cockatiel named Asa. Asa was a legendary escape artist who could chew her way through concrete. When she took her place beside Asha on Aaron’s bat she stopped her beak a couple of times on the statue and glared at Asha.
“What is this thing made of?” she asked. “I don’t like perching on things I can’t chew through if need be.”
“I think it is something called bronze,” said Asha. “But that is hardly what is at issue here.”
Asha quickly told her friends what her goal was and they agreed to be of any assistance possible, with one caveat.
“Before we do anything I want something to eat,” said Cecil. “What do they have to eat around here?”
“When at the ballpark, you eat hot dogs,” said Asha and the four took wing and headed for the nearest hot dog vendor.
“OK,” said Cecil. “Why don’t we let BabyGirl distract the vendor while the rest of us grab some dogs?”
“I hate to be a wet blanket, but I don’t eat hot dogs. I’m vegan,” said Asa. “Do you think they might have a tofu dog?”
“I think tofu is illegal in the South,” said BabyGirl.
“Don’t worry Miss Fussy, we’ll get you some popcorn,” hissed Asha.
“What about buns and chili?” wailed Cecil. “You can’t eat hot dogs without chili!”
“Only if you want to be as fat as a housecat,” said Asha as Baby Girl took off to provide a distraction. She perched on top of the food cart and, just as the vendor was adding relish to a customer’s wiener, dropped a nice ball of poop onto the dog.
But the customer and the vendor looked around in shock and finally settled their sights on the offending parrot.
“What the heck is going on here!” shouted the customer. “Can’t you keep these damn pigeons from pooping on the food?”
BabyGirl noticed that the customer had taken out his wallet in order to pay for his hot dog, so she swooped down and grabbed the wallet from his hand and flew over to an adjacent popcorn stand.
“Come and Get me!” the parrot shouted as the customer and the hot dog vendor ran in her direction. At that moment the other three parrots landed on the hot dog cart and grabbed a wiener in each claw and quickly took off to return to their perch on top of Hank’s statue. BabyGirl saw that the thievery had been successful, so she dropped the wallet, grabbed some popcorn for Asa, and followed the others.
“That was fun,” Cecil said between bites of his hot dog. “I think stolen food tastes better than any other kind of food, especially when you steal it from humans!”
“Cecil, I’m afraid that our adventures have permanently corrupted you,” laughed Asha as she daintily took bites from her meal. She would take a bite from one end of the wiener, rotate it with her talons, then take a bite from the other end.
“Yum, yum!” she said. “If only they made Cheetos this large!”
The four finished their meal and then cleaned each other’s feathers of any leftover hot dog or popcorn. When done with that Asa asked the question they all had on their mind.
“Well, just how are we going to get this guy to give us anything?” she asked. “And what do we get? I don’t see us hauling a baseball bat all the way back to Byron, no matter how strong Cecil thinks he is.”
“What I was thinking we might do is try to catch him after the game when he is alone and have Cecil tell him what we want. Then he might agree to come down and give Dad some stuff in person,” Asha said. Among the Four, Cecil was the best at communicating with humans in their own language.
“That does have the benefit of being a plan,” said Asa. “Not a good plan, I guess it is a plan. What do we do in the meantime?”
“I guess we watch the ballgame,” Asha said and the four took wing and perched on top of one of the light towers in right field. They finished eating their hot dogs and popcorn as the crowd finished taking their seats and the game got underway. Flynn had three hits and saved the home team’s win jumping high over the right field fence to rob the visitors of a home run. The crowd began leaving the stadium with smiles on their faces as the Four began looking for a way to get into the Braves’ locker room.
They flew down to the Braves’ dugout and saw a large hamper filled with dirty towels and uniforms. They dove into the hamper and dug themselves a cozy cave under the dirty laundry.
“We better get something good out of this,” whispered BabyGirl. “This stinks!”
A young man soon came up and began wheeling the hamper into the depths of the stadium. He pushed the hamper into the Braves’ locker room where it soon became full to overflowing with sweaty-stained jerseys and uniform pants.
After a while Cecil stuck his head out of the pile of dirty laundry and scoped out the situation. He ducked back under cover and reported to the others.
“That Flynn guy just got through talking to some guys with notebooks and cameras,” Cecil said. “They’re getting ready to leave.”
All four of the Friends poked their heads up just in time to see Flynn head through a door with ‘Training Room” written on it. The rest of the locker room was empty so they flew over to the door and looked inside. Asa noticed a window on the wall nearest to where the birds were standing so they flew up to stand on the ledge so they would have a quick escape route in case they needed it.
Flynn was sitting in what the humans called a whirlpool bath and seemed almost asleep.”
“Hey, Cecil,” Asha whispered. “This might be the chance we were looking for.”
Cecil was about to fly down to speak to Flynn when another human suddenly entered the room. Flynn looked up and gestured for the other man to come over to where he was.
“It’s about time you got here Oscar,” Flynn said. “I’m past due for my next shot.”
“Yeah,” said Oscar. “I noticed that that last home run of yours barely left the park. That would have been an out if it wasn’t for a friendly wind.”
“So quit talking and give me the juice before somebody else comes in,” Flynn said as he got out of the whirlpool. Oscar gave the player an injection in his buttocks.
“What do you want me to do about those Macaws you wanted ready for the Bird Show,” asked Oscar. “They still aren’t as big as you wanted them to be.”
“Did you give them the steroids like I told you to?” asked Flynn.
“Of course I did, but they didn’t react well to them so I cut the dosage. I was afraid some of them night die,” said Oscar.
“Idiot!” said Flynn. “We have a dozen of the damn things and all we need to win is one. Double the dosage! I want the Blue Ribbon this year!”
“You’re the boss,” Oscar said as he hurried from the room.
Flynn laughed to himself as he rubbed the injection site.
“And those stupid fans think it is only idiots like Bonds and Clemens on the juice,” he said to himself. “I go them and that fool Vick beat.”
Asha turned to her friends and said quietly, “We need to get out of there fast.”
They flew back to the Aaron statue where Cecil asked, “What were they doing,” he asked. “Was the Flynn guy sick or something?”
“No,” said Asha. “He wasn’t sick. He was taking what the humans call steroids. It helps make them run faster and hit the ball further. They are illegal.”
“You mean your Dad’s hero is breaking the law so he can play better,” asked Asa.
“That’s exactly what I mean,” said Asha quietly.
“Your Dad won’t like it if he finds out about that, will he,” asked BabyGirl. “What are you going to do?”
Asha just looked at her, wiped a tear from her eye with a wing, and said, “I don’t know, I really don’t know.”
“But what was that about giving steroids to those Macaws,” asked Cecil. “Is that illegal too?
“Yes, it is,” said Asha. “This guy is as dirty as they come. I think we are going to need help to take him down. Let’s get back to my place and get in touch with the Underground.”
The four flew back to Byron in silence as each one thought over what they had just seen. It was bad enough for a human to take an illegal drug, but to give it to a helpless animal? They got angrier and angrier until, by the time they got to Asha’s home, they were all ready to sharpen their talons and go after Flynn.
“The first thing we need to do is contact the Underground,” said Asha. “Cecil, you get on my computer and spread the word.”
“Wait,” said Asa. “Didn’t those guys we met in California, Mark and Clyde, join the Underground?”
“Great idea!” said Asha. “Cecil, see if you can get in touch with them and see if they can come here and give us a hand.”
As it turned out, Mark and Clyde were available and agreed to get on the first airplane for Georgia. They met up with the Four Friends at Turner Field. It was decided that Mark and Clyde would follow Flynn to try and try to get some evidence to prove his drug usage. They were armed with a video camera and their reserve deputy badges. The Four Friends would wait until Oscar showed up again and follow him and find out where he was keeping the macaws.
The four parrots took shifts waiting for Oscar to come back to visit Flynn and he finally did three days later. When he got back into his Hummer the four were stashed in the back seat. The drive was about an hour as Oscar stopped the car and parked. Cecil stuck his head up and reported that they were parked outside a small house trailer and there was a barn nearby.
“The barn is probably where the macaws are,” said Asa. “Let’s fan out and approach it from all directions.”
Asha took the northeast quadrant and was able to find a seam between the wooden boards to see the interior of the barn. What she saw horrified her. There were almost thirty large cages, each of which contained a blue-and-gold macaw. The birds seemed to be well cared for but what made Asha stifle a gasp was Oscar reaching into one cage and pulling out the corpse of one of the macaws.
“Damn,” Oscar said. “I told that idiot Flynn that increasing the dosage would kill these birds. This is the fifth one this week to just drop dead. This just isn’t right.”
Asha quickly flew up to the top of the barn and squawked loudly in order to get the attention of her friends. They all few up to where she was.
“Look, I think we might be able to get this guy on our side,” said Asha. “He seems pretty disgusted with what he is having to do. Cecil, I think we’re going to need some of your communication skills.”
Asha outlined her plan and Cecil flew down and sneaked into the front door of the barn and took up a position behind where Oscar was working cleaning out the cage that had held the recently deceased bird.
“Why did you do that to me?” Cecil asked in his best imitation of a ghost.
“What was that?” Oscar shouted as he spun around too late to see Cecil who had hidden inside a ten-gallon feed container. Oscar looked around the barn but couldn’t see the source of the voice. He finally got back to work on the cage when Cecil stuck his head back up and said, “What have we ever done to you?”
Oscar again tried to find the source of the voice and failed. “This dirty job must be getting to me,” he said to himself. “Lord only knows why I agreed to do this. Getting Flynn his steroids is one thing, but this is totally different. I always loved animals.”
Oscar shook his head but went back to work on the cage. Cecil popped up behind him again and said: “Do the right thing. Help us to live.”
Oscar again spun around was too late to catch his tormentor.
“That is just about enough,” he shouted as he tore the gloves off his hands and threw them to the floor. “I don’t have to live this way, “he shouted as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone.
“Information,” he said. “I want the number for the Atlanta Parrot Rescue Society,”
Cecil flew back out the door and joined his friends on the roof of the barn. He was congratulated all around as the parrot heard Oscar give the rescue society the directions to the barn. They waited until two vans arrived and the rescue personnel began to carry the cages out of the door. Oscar had left by then, but not before they heard him make another call, this one to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office and asking to speak to the person in charge of steroid abuse cases.
The birds returned to the Aaron statue at Turner Field where they found a note from Mark and Clyde asking them to meet them at a motel out in the suburbs. When The Feathered Four got there they found their two human friends watching-what else-a Star Trek episode on their portable DVD player.
“I tell you Clyde,” Mark was saying as the birds walked through the partially open door. “That Kirk is as smooth as molasses. I’d like you to name just one woman who was on that show that Kirk didn’t put the moves on.”
“Spock’s mother,” Clyde said with a laugh.
“Well, aside from her,” Mark said just as he noticed the four parrots standing just inside the door.
“Hey there little buddies,” Clyde said. “How did things go with you?”
“Some of the macaws passed over the Rainbow Bridge before we could save them, but we were able to get the others to safety,” said Asa. “What about your job?”
“Let me show you,” Mark said as he turned off the DVD player and turned on the television set. “ESPN has been running it about every five minutes.”
When the set came on the birds saw a picture of Flynn sitting in a Jacuzzi with a couple of girls flanking him and a drink in one hand and what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette in the other. He was obviously under the influence of something as he bragged to the girls about taking steroids and other drugs and getting away with it by swapping someone else’s urine when he was required to take a drug test.
“How did you get this?” asked Asha.
“Well, those are our girlfriends, Suzie and Elaine,” said Clyde. “They just showed up at Flynn’s place with the camera in a gym bag and he did all the rest.”
The Four Friends thanked Mark and Clyde and began the short flight back to Byron. They exchanged hugs on the roof of Asha’s house and then the other three took off for their respective homes. Asha feared what she was about to face but knew what she had to do. She slipped onto the porch and through the French Doors into her Dad’s bedroom. He was sitting in his chair with his head in his hands while ESPN played the Flynn tape on his television.
Asha flew up to the back of the chair and gently started preening his hair as she softly cooed into his ear.
“Why did he do it?” her Dad said softly. “Why? I thought he was a hero. I’ll never be able to trust anyone like that again.”
Asha jumped down onto her Dad’s lap and started stroking his cheek with her wing as she continued cooing, wishing she could tell him the words that were in her heart. And, all of a sudden she knew that she could.
“You can trust me and all the others who truly love you,” Asha said. “Trust isn’t earned on the baseball field. It is earned here at home.”
The initial look of shock on her Dad’s face was replaced with one of joy and wonder.
“Truer words were never spoken,” he said as he hugged Asha to his chest. “How about I go make some of that spicy popcorn you love.”