Weird Willy

The omens are bad.  Two years ago, a storm blew a baby mockingbird from its tree.  I saved him from my vicious (kidding) Chihuahuas, but I could not put him back in his nest; I dare not climb the spindly branches that his parents chose to build on.  Instead, I placed him in a thick set of Indian Hawthorns and his mother fed him from there.

Weird Willy survived this early trauma, but he was never quite right.  Socially challenged, I’d say, and I don’t think he ever lured a mate.  He went around disrupting other couples and never understood the concept: two’s company, three’s a crowd.  He was amusing though.

Now, I’m afraid he’s been a victim of Mr. Hawk.  First my best friend and now Weird Willy is gone.   

Call me superstitious if you want, but I’m going to be very, very careful for awhile.  Bad luck comes like a train wreck, one car slamming into another.

 

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January 1996 – July 2011

Handsome, humble and housetrained.  A good guard dog, good eater, good listener and good kisser.  A trustworthy walking companion:  no leash required.  A diligent sentry, until he handed over yard patrol to another able soldier.  For nearly fifteen years, he diligently upheld the ideals of noble dogism.  Salute.

In return I loved, pampered and indulged him.  He never knew a flea, tick or illness, except old age.  Never suffered the bite of a wintry night, the end of a chain or fell out of favor with his pack.

A Good Plan

On Monday the snow fell in blades of endless white, but still the old woman came, bearing tasty morsels of summer past.  Rich, mysterious and magical bouquets followed her, as the brothers watched from a hidden perch.  So anxious were the observers, had they been big enough and brave enough, they would have robbed her before journey’s end.  Yet there was more to fear than the wobbling gait of this ancient human.

Head bent and tucked inside her shawl, she never saw the hawk, and a might avian vision of prowess he was.  Golden eyes, rusty back, speckled chest and slightly bored but ever confident, he pruned an itchy spot just beneath his wing with a sharp nib.  His tail, as long as his body, fanned out toward the rising sun and turn the king’s feathers to gold.  The quartet of bachelors, admiring his armory, cooed over his long talons, piercing the rotten fence.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I too am starved,” Repete said.

“I haven’t sluiced a worm since November,” Echo peeped.

Quiver could not bring himself to speak or sing.  He summoned the strength to shutter, salting the ground with more snow, for he held the most undesirable position on the limb.

“If we dive, all together, toward the treasure, we might shoo the hawk away,” Petey said.

“Unlikely,” Repeat said.

“If we go, one at a time, the hawk will take one and leave the rest of us to eat the repast.  That’s pretty colorful odds.” Echo prophesied.

With that omen, or, perchance, the over alluring sight of food, Quiver, alit from the safety of the bush, sailed through the biting sleet and rushed the stash.  No more useless tweets for him; his belly drove him forward, and each of the bachelors flew the gauntlet, no less ravenous than his kin.

On Tuesday the old woman dawdled, but she came nonetheless with her bucket.  From a pocket she withdrew a few crusty crumbs and littered the ground with bread, an offering of redemption for her tardiness, perhaps.  The burnt flour wicker-up the snow, but the seeds remained warm and brown inside the artificial shell with its beaten brass roof.

As if summoned, the hawk returned too.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I too am starved,” Repete said.

“The same ploy as before?” Quiver asked, for yesterday’s plan seemed just as good as it had the day before.  And once again their tiny hearts mustered courage to solo beyond the crypt of evergreen.

On Wednesday the hawk consulted his mate, “Another scrumptious wren, my dear?”

“The wind blows from the north,” Ladyhawk said.  “Snuggle with me a bit.”

Ever faithful, the old hag brought her bucket.  After she chocked the feeder, she paused, as if something were amiss, but could find nothing at fault.

“I’m so hungry,” Petey said.

“I wish the old crow would hurry up and dash back to her nest,” his brother murmured, without fluttering a wing, least he conjure the enemy.  Always a good politician, Quiver added, “On this day we may stuff ourselves in peace, and there shall be more for each.”

“Perhaps not,” said a cardinal, zooming above their heads.  “For I have waited three days to fill my gullet, and I shall not be denied.”

The end.

Little Dog Lost

Laugh at me while I try to think like a dog.

Momzy turns to the Animal Planet.                        

I don’t like to look at the flickering images, but sometimes interesting sounds come out of the black boxes on the floor.  I’d like to pee on the boxes, so I could send my scent to Animal Planet, but I’d better not do that.  Momzy doesn’t like it.  She’s strange that way, and I must do as Momzy says.  Momzy is strong and powerful; besides, she has all the food.  I listen carefully to her tone.

Sometimes she leaves me.

It’s lonely when she’s gone.  I get frustrated, and I’d like to rip the pillows on the bed to pieces.  They’re so plump and fat.  Their boneless bodies are rich with Momzy’s drool.

When Momzy comes back to the den, she always brings fresh food, and I forget about the feathers inside the pillows.  Momzy must be a wonderful hunter.  Maybe, one day she will let me prowl the hunting ground with her.  I would be a good tracker.  My ancestors have made certain promises to me.  Their voices blend into a single sound that echoes in my blood.

We eat lunch.  It’s roasted chicken today, but any kind of meat is okay with me.  Also cheese, peanut butter and anything sweet make good snacks.  The only thing Momzy won’t share with me chocolate.  The greasy smell of the chicken fat makes slobber run off my tongue.  Momzy shares.  Momzy loves me.  I love Momzy.  Pardon me while I gulp.  I must eat fast, before someone else wants a bite.

We take a nap on the sofa, while the TV flickers nonsense.  I can feel Momzy’s heart beating against my back.  It is a strong beat and that’s good.  Momzy is not a pup, but she is not old, either.  It’s warm under the blanket.  It’s important to be warm.  Momzy farts, and I wiggle out.

I chew on my bone.  I wish it was a real bone with salty blood to lick and marrow to gnaw.  A ray of sunshine warms the floor in front of the window.  I lie in the sunshine with my belly up.  Vitamin D is good.  I don’t want to get rickets or lose my teeth.  I’m only a pup.

A faint breeze creeps between the window and the metal threads; it brings tantalizing wisps of yard.  Grass, bugs and my poop are the closest things.  Chlorinated water drips from the garden hose into the birdbath.  The garbage can is further away, but it smells interesting.  The bones from the roasted chicken are in there.  Momzy shouldn’t throw the bones away.

Kids are playing in the street, and two houses down there is another bin with oily fish.  I don’t like fish, but it makes for good camouflage.  The musky smell would surely get rid of the perfumed stench that Momzy scrubs into my fur.

Momzy stirs on the sofa, and I pad over to her.  We stare at each other, but it’s not a challenge.  I am lower than Momzy and my tale is tucked between my legs.  She speaks to me.  Her tone is soft; her vowels round.  I understand many of her words, but I only like a few of them.

“Want’a go for a walk?”

“Arf, arf, arf.”  I spin and twist.

Momzy leashes me and wraps her feet in cow skin.  As we trot down the sidewalk, I take the lead.  Momzy and me are a small pack, but as soon as I find a bitch, I will make puppies.

The sidewalk’s hot surface fills my nose:  pee from dogs, poop from birds, wads of gum, candy wrappers, traces of cats and squirrels.  We turn off the street and enter the park, my favorite place.  Momzy doesn’t fool around; she throws the ball right away.  I chase it down, pounce on it and kill it.  All too easy, but I take the dead ball back.

A man comes.  Momzy talks to him; he talks to her.  The man leaves and Momzy cries.  This worries me.  Is she sad enough to die?  I place my nose on Momzy’s knee.  She shoos me away.

Beyond the trail a squirrel yadders at me.  I nearly catch the scamp before he leaps up a bole at the last second before capture.  I promise the squirrel a ripping death if he will come down again.  He won’t come down so I dig up his stash of nuts.  I find a big oak that twelve dogs have peed on.  I know many things about these dogs from their messages.  As last dog to mark the spot, I am most powerful.  On the trail, I bump into a wilted sapling.  This pup is hungry.  I offer my fruits and whiz on the trunk.  The tree likes one but not the other.

The sun goes down, and I realize I’m lost.  My stomach rumbles.  If only I had caught that rude tree rat.  I can’t find Momzy.  I wander out into the street that goes back to our den.  A car honks, and the metal lip bumps my right hip.  The loud, booming thing has hurt me, and now I walk with a limp.  I lick at my new bruise, but the licking does no good.

I will go back to the park and start anew.  I’m not ready to hunt alone.  Dew beads on my hair and the sounds of the park change.  New animals come out, as day creatures slip abed.  I wish I was abed.  A bat zips by, an owl hoots and frogs complain near the lake.

I must find a new pack; I must nuzzle my nose into their butts.  As I think this, I hear Momzy’s voice.  She says that word that means ME.

“Come and get me,” I yelp.  I hope she tracks me soon.

A ray of light, moving like a boor shaking his head, fans through the bush.  It’s a monster with a single white eye that cuts the darkness!  Its mouth must be enormous!  I pretend to be brave by growling, but I’m a tricky pooch.  I shy away, slipping deeper into the woods.

Momzy calls my name.  She is close; I can smell her.  She is behind the light-monster,

she has tracked me.  Momzy is a good hunter, and she has forgotten the man, who made her cry.  There is only an image of me in her heart.  Momzy loves me; I love Momzy.

I hope she takes me home, now.  I’m very tired, but I do smell much better.

The Alley Cat

I scrub the carpet with my back, trying to rid myself of the new collar around my neck, but the stubborn thing will not budge, so I capture my tail between my paws and nip at it gently, testing the sharpness of my teeth against the boney ridges beneath the fur.  The form of a bird flies pass the window and I instinctively jump to my feet, before I realize that it was only a shadow.

Ginger sits beside me, licking her front foot and then wiping it over her face.  Ginger washes more than any cat that I have ever known.  Personally, I think it’s a little neurotic.  Ginger has never set paw outside the den, and her excessive cleaning seems like a nervous tic.  Her fluffy, yellow tail twitches and I swat at it.

“I’m pretty.  So, so pretty,” she purrs in mid swipe.

“Says who?” I ask.

“Momzy says.  She tells me I’m so-sooo pretty all the time.”

I study Ginger for a second.  She is rather attractive with orange and yellow bands of fur swirling around her body.  Loose hair floats around her head like a halo.  Her eyes are big, green saucers that cast a hypnotic spell.  It is a fact that I can not deny; she is pretty, but instead of saying the right thing, I blurt out the wrong thing.

“You’re fat,” I say.

Ginger hisses, a nasty challenging spit, and pounces on me.  We roll across the carpet, and do not stop fighting until we hit a table leg.  The lamp on the table tilts and rocks, but it does not fall off the table.  We screech and run in opposite directions.

“What do I care about a dumb ole alley cat that Momzy picked up off the street,” Ginger hisses.  Her white fangs glitter in a streak of light from the window.  I can tell that her teeth are just as sharp as her nails.  She curls her tail around her feet, and she says, “If I tell Momzy to get rid of you, she will throw you out on your skinny black cat butt.  Momzy loves me best.”

I don’t really believe that Ginger can do that.  Momzy does not speak cat.  But the two of them do have a mysterious bond, and I think better of my words.  Perhaps, I should be more diplomatic.  Living on the street has made me tough and rude.

I pad nonchalantly over to the couch, dig my nails into the pimpled material, and lift my weight off the floor while I think about things.

“You are pretty, Ginger,” I say, purring softly.  “But you shouldn’t let yourself get too fat.  How would you catch a meal if Momzy suddenly disappeared?”

“Momzy won’t disappear.”

Ginger jumps onto the couch, plucks at the pillow, circles three times, and then lies down.  She stared at me with those imperialistic green eyes.  She is Supreme Empress—and she knows it.

“Momzy might disappear.  It’s possible.  I had another owner before Momzy found me.  Her name was Grandma, and she disappeared.”

“What happen to her?”

“She died.  She was old.”

“Do you miss her?”

“Yes, but only when I’m dreaming.”

“If my Momzy died, someone else would adopt me.  I’m so-sooo-sooo pretty.”

“Perhaps, you’re right.”

Ginger stares at me until I have to blink.  I always lose at the staring game.  Her big eyes close, and her chest moves in slow rhythmic waves.  For a moment, I think that she had fallen asleep, and I slip down into a curl beside her.

I am almost asleep when she springs up and arches her back.  She tramples over me only to get to the other end of the couch.  I spit at her, baring my teeth all the way to the back.

“Teach me to hunt, and I’ll tell Momzy to keep you,” Ginger says—and there it is again, that mysterious connection between Ginger and Momzy.  This is a threat to my full belly and warm bed.  I have to learn the secret of Momzy’s love.

“There’s nothing to hunt in this house,” I say and yawn.  My thin black tail curls into a question mark.

“There’s a mouse in the basement,” Ginger says and purrs coyly.

“There is?”  I try to feign disinterest, but my heart is beating so fast that I am sure that Ginger can hear it—after all, her ears are plenty big enough.  “I will teach you to hunt, but only if you lick my face.”

Her pink tongue darts out and dry licks the black fur under my ears.  It feels so marvelous that my right, hind leg jiggers uncontrollably.  Ginger acquiesces so quickly to my demands that I dare to ask for more.

“And you have to tell me the secret.  Why does Momzy love you so much?”

“Silly alley cat.  Momzy loves me because I’m so-sooo pretty,” she says.

“That’s not fair,” I say and rip a large hole in her pillow.

“That’s life,” Ginger purrs.  “Now, let’s go get that mouse.”

The End

Bird Warfare

Reconnaissance Report                                                     

TIME: 0900

LOCATION:  Feeder

Wren Tactic:  Swarm in numbers and take supply.

Mocking Bird Tactic:  Repel enemy and save supply.

Blue Bird Tactic:  Hover on rim and glut supply.

OBSERVATION OF BATTLE STRATEGY:

Wren:  Acceptable success.

Mocking Bird:  Hungry loser.

Blue Bird:  Decisive winner.

Addendum:  Sudden presence of squirrel stalls all avian battle.

Body in the Back Yard

This story actually happened to me.  I did take some poetic liberties, such as changing names to protect the guilty.

Body in the Back Yard

by

C.M. Marcum

The body was limp, legs busted, neck bloody.  Wrinkled eyelids half shut and seeing nothing.  Gross.

I knew, at once, that Jude had killed again, but what was I to do?  I’m Jude’s daddy; I had to protect him with every means at my disposal.  I wrapped the corpse in plastic, raked up as much evidence as I could find, and ran over the remainder with the bagger attached to the lawn mower.  This made me an accomplice, I know.  But a guilty conscious will never stop a father from shielding his family.

After the deed was done, all I wanted was a cold shower, but I had no sooner entered the house when the doorbell rang.  Constable Williams, friend and neighbor, stood on my doorstep.  He looked as hot and frustrated as I felt.  A black pistol cinched tight against his utility belt seemed extra menacing to me.  Did he suspect?

“They’re onto us, Jude,” I said and brushed the dirt from my jeans before I opened the door.

“Hey Ben.”

“Hey Tom,” the sheriff said.  “I’m missing one of my white chickens.  Have you seen him?”

I hesitated, just long enough to appear like I gave it a little thought.  “No, sure haven’t.”

“Be on the lookout, okay?”

“Sure will, Ben.”

When I closed the door, I looked down at Jude.  Warm brown eyes and a black nose glistened in the afternoon light.  His tail wagged slowly.  I knew that he knew that I knew.

“You’re a bad dog, Jude.”

P.S. I got to tell you that it was a fair fight.  The dog in question was a chihuahua, no bigger than the chicken.