It’s been a gloomy evening chez Glamore. Porter was reading with Feathers perched on his shoulder, and somewhere along the way Feathers disappeared.
None of us was aware of the problem for several hours, as Porter was confident that Feathers had gone exploring and would soon return. I was in the kitchen fixing dinner when Porter came in, wearing only underwear and ski gloves, carrying a box which emitted scritches and tweets.
“Have you seen Feathers?” Porter asked.
“Isn’t she in the box?”
“No, this is Texas Ranger. I’m using him as bait to find Feathers.” He put the box on the ground and opened it, plucked Texas Ranger out and crooned, “Go find Feathers” in a high voice.
Texas Ranger wasn’t having any of it. He squawked and wriggled himself into the corner by the dishwasher and refused to move. It took Porter several minutes and a spatula to return him to the box and then his cage, per my command. I’m proud to report that I remembered to put the spatula into the dishwasher and avoided cooking with it.
We spent the rest of the evening looking for Feathers. Our search was hampered by Porter’s inability to remember precisely where he’d last seen her and the ongoing chaos of his room, which could hide a small bird for weeks.
Do you see a bird in here? We didn’t either.
On the positive side, his habit of creating parakeet playgrounds featuring pools of birdseed made it unlikely that Feathers would starve if she was wandering through the clutter.
Feathers playing on playground in happier days. She was particularly fond of sitting on my mom’s old bracelet which balanced on the tambourine.
It had been raining for most of the day so Elvis had spent a great deal of time indoors. This made me uneasy. When the birds first arrived, Elvis had snuffled around the birdcage quite a bit. One time he had wandered in Porter’s room while both birds were on the playground. Elvis sniffed them more in the manner of someone wondering what was for dinner than like he was greeting fellow family members. Since then, we’d emphasized that dog and birds were best kept apart.
I had special reason to be concerned.
Growing up, we adopted a dog named Peaches. We guessed that a crazy person had named him. He was shaggy and black with a ribbon of white at his throat, and looked like no particular breed. He most resembled Grover on Sesame Street, with more hair and four legs. He was a fabulous dog. That’s hard to believe based on this picture of him circa 1975.
It really doesn’t matter that you can’t see his face, as we couldn’t see it when looking at him either.
I could write loads about Peaches and his adventures: the time he humped the dog across the street and got stuck to her, the time he ate the plastic covering the newspaper and it came out his rear, completely whole, and so forth.
Our next door neighbors growing up had kids our age, and when the oldest was in fifth grade his class hatched a chick to learn about the miracle of nature. He won the raffle to keep the chick and raise it at home.
My sisters and I were so jealous. The baby chick was the size of a couple of cotton balls and super-cute. My neighbor called us to come outside so he could show her off. He made it clear that we weren’t to hug her, because we’d squeeze her too tight and suffocate her.
Although the baby chick was tiny, she was fast, so he’d fashioned a weensy chick leash out of dental floss and tied it to her leg. They paraded down their driveway at a fast clip and over to us. Aunt Su and I were wearing our matching maroon and yellow Izod sweaters in honor of the occasion. We oohed and ahed for about three seconds before Peaches darted from the bushes and swallowed the chick whole. There was nothing left but a small strand of dental floss protruding from Peaches’s mouth, but he quickly lapped that up as well.
We were stunned by that example of nature in action. It was years before I got over the image of Peaches hoovering up the chick as if it were a marshmallow.
I had no desire to see the scene repeated at my own home, but as we checked every room in the house and heard nary a tweet and no rustling feathers, I began examining Elvis more closely. I didn’t think he’d been appropriately hungry for dinner. Was that because he’d had an extra-special hors’d’oeuvre?
Feathers was larger than the baby chick had been, and Elvis is half the size of Peaches, so I theorized that Elvis would need at least two bites to finish off the bird. Surely that would leave blood, or at least pin feathers. I found no evidence of either around the house.
After dinner I resorted to prying Elvis’s mouth open. I saw no evidence of a birdie meal, and his breath, while rank, wasn’t particularly redolent of parakeet.
By bedtime Porter was upset over Feather’s disappearance. He was also outraged to learn that if he bought another parakeet he’d have to pay not only the $16.99 the bird cost, but also 8% sales tax, which added another $1.36 to the transaction.
Thus, in our nightly prayer we asked God to keep Feathers safe if she was still here on earth, and for help in finding her. Porter reminded God that Feathers likes to sit on a person’s shoulder while he’s reading so He could make proper arrangements if Feathers was already in Heaven. Then, at Porter’s insistence, I asked God to consider our city’s sales tax and strike it down if he found it unfair, Amen.
(I had already told Porter that this was a government issue, not a religious one, but he came back at me with “Ask and it will be given unto you” and I couldn’t get into a theological discussion with a missing bird and possible carcass somewhere in the house.)
Bill and I checked all the toilets, the laundry room, the basement, and every closet once more after the boys went to bed. No Feathers.
I didn’t eat no parakeet
We’ve lost pets before (remember when we lost the hermit crabs while they were racing?) but Feathers has been much loved.
Updates as they occur.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: What To Buy? Don’t Axe Me
Also, I’d forgotten that the hermit crab post contains
a diatribe helpful suggestions from someone who is really devoted to her hermit crabs, and even makes them homemade food!