FROM J. SIGAL
I hit the snooze button for the second time. It was a normal morning. But why was it still so dark, I wondered, as I peered squinting through my one eye not buried in the pillow. The voice on the radio trailed off into welcome silence, when through the fog of sleep, I remembered the real estate agent I was working with arranged an eleven o’clock meeting to go over the results of my recent home inspection report with the client she represented whom did not like to be inconvenienced. One man’s inconvenience is another man’s wake up call. That was fine with me. Work was, after all work. Winter and its successive cold rainy days appeared to have passed, and as a general contractor I was eager for another paid workday.
Anyway, I was performing one of the tasks of my morning ritual, making the bed, when I heard Mr. Coffee beep-beep me that he had done his job and was available anytime I was.
I looked forward to my first cup of coffee with as much eagerness as I had for that first Marlboro of the day back when I used to smoke … and how the flavor of that single teaspoon of Wakeman’s Clover honey, s l o w l y stirred into that first cup, fully completed my Juan Valdez moment.
I thought it was amazing someone had figured out a way to make bags that had coffee inside, which you could just drop into the coffee pot and not have to measure, just add water, and wait. I came up with the idea about four years earlier while chatting with a friend while making a Sunday morning breakfast and talking about the things “they” should come up with. Well “they” finally did, and at last, I was the benefactor of my own great idea. Of course, the name on the box was FOLGER’S, not SIGAL’S, so financially I was still no better off.
That’s why I held paying days in such high esteem.
I finished getting the brew ready to drink, then headed for the laundry room where the dryer buzzed letting me know my work-jeans were dry. Work jeans are generally distinguished from good jeans by a paint stain that “SHOUT” just couldn’t get out, or perhaps a hole, just above the right back pocket that’s grown beyond the ability of “iron-on-tape” to effectively mend. I walked into the living room and asked Larry my parrot if he wanted to go outside. I do this every morning, another ritual, and the answer is always the same;
“The pizza’s cold”
“awk! Call the cops, call the cops”
I place my right index finger under Larry’s breast, as he lifts his left claw, grabs my finger and releases the perch with his right claw. At this point he gives his wings a few gratuitous flaps, then whistles. It was pretty much the same routine every morning. I then go to the bedroom and open the porch door. During the day Larry lives in a large wrought iron cage just outside the porch door. When I release him to the perch, he responds by fluffing himself up and immediately checks the feeder while I retrieve his food from the bookshelf in the bedroom. Once the feeder is full, I close the cage door and let the cats out.
Anyway, these important tasks finished, I grabbed the jeans I mentioned from the dryer and ironed the shirt chosen for the day. Once dressed, I pulled on my boots and walked back to the kitchen to put away the ironing board. My eye was caught by what I noticed to be a few small feathers on the carpet on the floor in front of the sink. I passed this off at first remembering I hadn’t run the vacuum for a couple of days and attributed the feathers to Larry. As I passed the conspicuous feathers for the second time I noticed that which I thought I saw, but ignored on the first pass. The feathers in question were smaller than any Larry ever sheds. And of even more interest on bending over to take a closer look, they were much smaller. Picking up one of the feathers in question and looking at it closely, I realized what I did not want to acknowledge the first time I noticed them. They were brown and tinged with a subtle orange at the edges. Larry was very green. He never had a brown orange tinged feather on his body in his entire life. Then it hit me. I turned and walked from the kitchen into the living room. There on the floor in front of the armoire, spread in a most casual repose, and speaking her pleasant tone of “cat”, Kasha looked up at me as she batted what appeared to be a ball of fluff from where she lay, to a spot under the recliner. I immediately noticed the small ball of fluff was tinged in orange.
My worst fears were realized. It was a small wild canary, which along and with hundreds of other birds of all kinds, lived in and around the two hundred-year old live oak tree which surrounded the house I lived in.
I must say here, I do not blame the cat for being a cat. She is in fact a quite good cat. She is affectionate and loving and not at all what one would consider a hunter. She just does what cats do. They sometimes catch birds. They cannot help themselves. It is their nature. I shooshed her away, reached out and gently picked up the bird. This tiny creature must have weighed in at close to eight or ten grams and it was shaking miserably. I was not sure if it was from fear or damage. It didn’t look hurt, but I could not tell. I was also right up against being late for my appointment. The only thing I could think of to do was take the little creature to the nearest available version of Doctor Doolittle, whom on Humphrey Road, was known as Anna. Anna was recently immigrated to the United States from Scotland, and lived across the street and four doors up from me; known throughout the neighborhood as “that animal lady”. You could ask any dog or cat on Humphrey road and they could tell you where she lived.
Anyway, I took the little bird in my hand, walked to Anna’s house and knocked on the door. It was early, but I knew Anna had an elementary school age daughter, and would likely be getting ready to leave for school. I knocked on the door and waited while trying to reassure the little bundle in my hand everything was going to be just fine, even though I did not feel it was true, and hoped speaking in such a positive fashion would bode well for the situation. A moment or so had passed and still no answer at the door. I knocked again and almost immediately the door swung wide open.
Standing before me was this person with two large blue eyes peering out of an almost completely green face, wearing sweatpants and a gray plaid flannel shirt. At first I was not sure what to say, and I was not sure who this person was, having met Anna only twice before. Anna coyly laughed, then told me she just finished applying a “mud-pack” and was waiting for it to do whatever it is mudpacks do. I smiled and said hello, then briefly explained my reason for my being there so early in the morning and desperately wanted to apologize for being so untimely, but didn’t. I couldn’t help but stare at this woman with the green face as I told her the short story about the bird. As I handed the small creature over to her I felt it was the most I could do. Anna smiled and took the bird and said, “I’ll do what I can.” Looking at her for another brief second I thought what a lovely woman she was, even green, then smiled, and said “Thank you. Sorry for being such a bother at such an early hour”, apologized for the interruption, turned and walked away thinking while I was quite glad women did what they did to make themselves more attractive, we probably shouldn’t be witness to it.
Near ten-o’clock I stopped what I was doing and picked up my phone. Taking a sip from my third cup of coffee, I dialed Anna’s number. The phone rang five times. It was voice mail that answered, to my concerned disappointment. I listened to the message as it invited me to leave a brief message.
I said “Hi Anna, this is Jay and I’m just calling to find out about the bird” and hung up.
I hoped the bird was going to be ok, and somehow knew if anyone could help it out it was Anna.
Later that day, having returned home from my meeting, I was in my garage loading the necessary tools into my truck for the contract I was just awarded. A knock came at the door. It was Anna, delivering my dog Millie, who was accustomed to visiting Anna in the afternoon. As Millie made her way in the door, closely followed by my two cats, I smiled and said “Hello” to Anna.
“How is the little bird?” I inquired impatiently.
“It died about half an hour after you left this morning” Anna replied.
I more than half expected this and smiled half-heartedly and said, “Well, we tried.”
Anna looked up and said something about the fact that any creature that small is not likely to survive any type of injury.
After chatting a bit longer, we said goodbye to one another, and Anna left.
I went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, reached in, grabbed a beer, popped the top, then turning, I walked into the living room towards the front door. Standing at its threshold, I looked up at the blue sky prying its way through the gnarled aged branches of that lovely, twisted live-oak. Though indirectly, I felt accountable for a moment for the loss of that bird, and wanted to let the creatures that lived there know what happened. I opened the door, stepped out to the front porch and sat down.
As I sipped my beer, an early Spring wind swaggered in from the Pacific, not a block away, releasing a surfeit of tiny leaves from that aged tree to the ground.
While I thought about the events of the day, it occurred to me; I could clearly hear the sound of one less songbird.
An awful lot of static interfering with the story - that's the main problem I see. Lots of crap that has nothing to do with the bird, plus a lot of unnecessary detail. You're also trying too hard for humor. A little humor is fine, but that's not the payload of this story. You have the foundation of a fine vignette hidden here. Look what happens when I mostly just delete stuff that has nothing to do with the story and make a few minor wording changes:
It was during a routine chore that I saw them...a few small feathers on the floor in front of the kitchen sink. At first I dismissed them as belonging to my pet parrot Larry because I had not vacuumed for a couple of days, but then I noticed they were smaller and colored differently than Larry's. On a hunch, I went into the living room and found my cat Kasha batting around a ball of fluff.
It was a small wild canary, which lived in and around the live oak tree surrounding my house.
I did not blame the cat. She is a good cat, affectionate and loving and not at all what one would consider a hunter, but she just did what cats do. I shooshed her away, and gently picked up the bird. It weighed maybe eight or ten grams and shook miserably, whether from fear or damage, I could not tell. It didn’t look hurt.
I decided to take the bird to Anna, a woman known in my neighborhood as “that animal lady”. With bird in hand (and none in the bush), I knocked on her door. It was early, but I knew Anna had an elementary school age daughter, and would likely be getting ready to leave for school. I waited and tried to reassure the little bundle in my hand everything would be just fine. It was a white lie, but I hoped such positive words might sway whatever avian gods listened. A moment or so passed and still no answer at the door. I knocked again and almost immediately the door swung wide open.
It was a woman, or so I thought. She wore sweatpants and a gray plaid flannel shirt, and her large blue eyes peered out of an almost completely green face. At first I was not sure what to say or who this person was, having met Anna only twice before. Anna coyly laughed, then told me she just finished applying a “mud-pack” and was waiting for it to do whatever mudpacks do. I smiled and briefly explained the reason for my presence so early in the morning. telling her the story of the bird.
As I handed the small creature to her, I felt I had done my utmost. Anna smiled and said, “I’ll do what I can.” For a moment, I thought what a lovely woman she was, even green, then smiled, and said “Thank you. Sorry for being such a bother at such an early hour”, and walked away thinking while I appreciated the things women do to look more attractive, I probably shouldn’t witness it.
Around ten-o’clock I called Anna, but got her voice mail. I left a message that I was calling to find out about the bird. I hoped the bird would be okay and knew if anyone could help in that regard, it was Anna.
Later that day, after returning home from a meeting, a knock came at my door. It was Anna delivering my dog Millie, who was accustomed to visiting Anna in the afternoon. As Millie trotted through the door, closely followed by my two cats, I inquired about the bird.
“It died about half an hour after you left this morning,” she said.
I more than half expected this. I smiled half-heartedly and said, “Well, we tried.”
"Yes. Well, any creature that small is not likely to survive any type of injury."
After chatting a bit longer, we said goodbye, and she left.
I went into the kitchen, grabbed a beer, then walked to the threshold of my front door. I gazed at the the gnarled branches of that lovely, twisted live oak. Somehow, I felt a bit accountable for the loss of that bird, and wanted to let the creatures that lived there know what happened. I opened the door, and sat down on the front porch. As I sipped my beer, an early Spring wind swaggered in from the Pacific, releasing a surfeit of tiny leaves from that aged tree into the breeze.
While I thought about the events of the day, it occurred to me; I could clearly hear the sound of one less songbird.
You use 1800 words. I use 700. Which do you like better?