The Iron Writer Challenge 78
Birds as Characters
Only 24 hours before the big party. So much to do and Daniel still had to go to the groomer. His sport cut had turned into a long stringy mess. He never liked the foo foo cuts the other poodles fancied but he did like to look clean cut. Woodsy, the wise old owl, agreed to oversee the other birds as they put the finishing touches on the decorations for the party. Chadd and Seth were thrilled to help out. Daniel didn’t need feathers to be accepted into their flock. As the last thimble was placed on the table for the finch family, all the birds looked at their accomplishments. They looked forward to Daniels return; he would be thrilled and grateful for all they had accomplished.
When Daniel returned, he did not rush to the special place to see the pre party preparations. Instead, he hobbled into the house. Woodsy was confused. Daniel didn’t look freshly groomed. He looked sick. But how could he get sick from a trip to the groomers. Appearing confident, as not to ruffle any feathers, he encouraged the other birds to wait patiently.
Patience grew thin as the wait became increasingly long. The birds even resorted to peeking into the windows to try to see Daniel. But no one could find him. As the full moon rose, Woodsy, instructed everyone to go home for the night. There was nothing they could do.
The sun came out in the morning and with it all the birds rushed to the special place, hoping Daniel would be there. But he wasn’t. Again, the birds tried to peek into the windows to find him, but no luck. What was wrong with their poodle friend?
Finally, Woodsy heard the front door open. It was Daniel. Smiling from ear to ear, he greeted Daniel and filled him in, “Good Morning, we have all been anxiously waiting to hear from you. Everyone worked so hard. Come see your special place. Chadd, Seth and all the other birds did a marvelous job setting up. It’s perfect.. They even invented a special alarm and booby trap, so no one has to be lookout during your party. If the hawk gang comes they will get a big surprise!” Daniel, still droopy simply replied, “There will be no party today.” With that said the master took Daniel inside and closed the door.
Throughout the day, Woodsy kept encouraging everyone not to give up hope. Then, finally, the back door flung open and out ran Daniel, “Let the party begin.” All the birds cheered and chirped. The party went on without a hitch, no alarm, no booby-trap, just fun. As the party was coming to a close Daniel decided to share the scary tale of his trip to the vet. The birds all listened intently and could be heard gasping as gruesome details were revealed. As the wild tale was concluding, Woodsy broke out laughing, “Good one, Daniel, you had us all going.” Daniel was confused as all the birds followed Woodsy’s lead. Laughing, everyone headed home. Daniel called out, “Guys, It wasn’t a joke.”
The neighbor’s squawking woke me up. I peeked over the edge of my nest and saw the bright colors streaming past, and sighed.
Not again. Too much noise, too early.
I glanced at my side and saw the slow rise and fall of my baby’s downy chest as he snuggled closer. Assured he would sleep through the commotion, I raised my red feathers up over my eyes, and attempted to sleep. The incessant noise quickened until I couldn’t ignore it. This wasn’t another practice drill, but an alarm.
Lemi nudged me awake.
“I have to go,” he chirped softly, careful not to wake the baby.
I ruffled my feathers in disbelief. He couldn’t leave me. I could hardly defend the nest with such little sleep, not to mention I couldn’t fly with a newborn chick, and staying meant tempting the enemy.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he chirped, jutting his head to the side to retrieve his patrol hat.
“Like what?” I accused, trying to dispel the bewilderment that had become my new normal.
“Like I have a choice, you knew I led the flock patrol.”
“It’s just the lack of sleep talking… I know you have to protect the flock…”
“But what?” he asked, turning to face me again with his glistening obsidian eyes.
“Just don’t forget about us. We’re defenseless here.”
“I know. I won’t endanger you or the rest of the flock. If I didn’t have to go, I wouldn’t, but after last week’s attack…” he let his last chirps linger as he secured his shiny hat in place. The dimpled edges of the thimble reflected the bright morning sun.
Even after three years, my feathers still ruffled when I saw him in uniform.
The tips of my red feathers fluttered forward and shared the fainted of touches with his yellow. A surge of love overwhelmed me, and I sighed.
“Be safe,” I urged, my beak quivering.
“I promise. I won’t take any risks I don’t have to.”
He dove over the edge of the branch, disappearing into the leaves below. I held my breath knowing his idea of risk varied from my own. Then I saw him reappear over the valley of grass, heading right towards the enemy’s home, a smaller replica of its human owner’s.
With my beak resting atop the edge of our nest, I watched his golden tail feathers cut through the air and his wings flatten against his body as he accelerated toward the awaiting enemy. Sharp teeth protruded from an elongated mouth and tangled tufts of fur bounced wildly as the untamed monster jumped. Even though Lemi’s bravery was uncontested, I knew he was no match for the killer poodle. That ruthless dog had taken the lives of our three previous patrol leaders. I nestled lower in the nest, trying to ignore the fight, but each squawk ripped a hole in my heart.
I nuzzled closer to the cooing baby at my side, and gently stroked his side, hoping my wings wouldn’t wake him with their uncontrollable shaking.
“Your father’s a hero. I only wish you would’ve had a chance to know him.”
Danielle Lee Zwissler
It was Mascot Day at Progressive Field, and my buddies and I wanted to watch a game, and eat some stadium dogs. I was dressed as Big Bird. The costume was hot as hell, and I looked ridiculous in the getup.
“Wazup, Big,” my buddy, Jacob–whom was dressed as Tweety, hollered. He was short, only about 5’4″.
“Nice costume, dick.”
“Wait till you see Jonah.”
I couldn’t even imagine. Jonah was rather large. “Where is he?”
“Lady in the back is fixing his costume. She was yelling something about needing a thimble. She poked herself about half a dozen times when Jonah was moving.”
Jonah came out.
He was dressed as Foghorn Leghorn.
“This is ridiculous.”
“Hey, we get in free, free dogs and beer for a few hours… It’s genius.
The seamstress came and laughed. “I hope you guys catch a fowl ball!”
I rolled my eyes at the joke, as Jonah and Jacob laughed.
Jonah joked, “I just hope none of us are too chicken to try!”
At that moment, my alarm went off. “Listen, guys, we have to go. I still have to go home and feed Charlie before the game. Charlie was my toy poodle. He was a real stinker if he didn’t get his food on time.
We left, took care of the dog, then went to the game.
When we arrived, the Indians were just coming on to the field. The stands were filled with all kinds of colorful costumes. We took our seats immediately, and the wave began through the stadium.
“Steeeeriiiikeee two,” the announcer crooned. It was the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. We were practically on the edge of our seats.
Then the pitch. *crack*
The ball was headed straight toward us! Foghorn went right, Tweety went left, and I held out my taloned claw with glove as my two friends nearly collapsed on me. There were mascots everywhere, all over us, scrambling for the ball. I was punched somewhere in the beak, my tail feathers were pulled, and Foghorn was down for the count.
It didn’t take long for the game cam to zone in on us.
“‘Fowl Play’ scrolled across the screen as the announcer pushed some kind of sound effect–a squawking sound.”
“Hey, we’re on cam,” Tweety cheered. Foghorn groaned; his feathers were pretty much shattered.
“I say, I say,” he groaned.
“Dear God,” I replied, holding my costume together in the front, and keeping the ball secure in my left handed glove.
“Did you get it?” Tweety asked.
“Yep, barely, but it’s here.”
And just like that, the game started and we were but a memory…
That was…until we got out of the stadium.
“Hey! You, in the Big Bird costume! That was supposed to be my ball!” a man yelled. He started running after us. We were too slow, and beat up, to really get away.
Foghorn ran, I ran, and Tweety, well he…
“Hey,” he grinned, as he looked back at us. He was pointing at the men that were coming our way. “It’s a putty tat.”
Somewhere in Downtown Atlanta, a car window is smashed.
The alarm sounds, echoes, sets off a small white poodle, named Pookie, who tries to eat through a plate glass window to get at the guy.
A Kingfisher and a Bluejay land on the telephone line above.
“Thinking about flying to Little Five Points tonight, wanna come?” Larry said, smoothing his tail feathers.
“I don’t know man,” Jay said, frowning.
“What?” asked Larry.
“Chicks act like they like me, but they really just want to mess with my mind. Like at the Guilded Cage the other night…,” Jay started.
“Not again,” Larry rolled his eyes.
“I flew up to that girl, we talked for twenty minutes. I got the vibe, ya know? And what happens?” Jay squawks.
“Girls are finicky,” Larry said.
“I buy her a drink, ask for her number… It turns out to be Dominoes in Marietta,” Jay shakes his head.
“First, you gotta stop wearing that little thimble hat. Makes you look like you stepped out of Yertle the Turtle, “ Larry laughed.
“It’s who I am. Besides, I’m getting a little thin on top here,” Jay said, pointing to his head.
“Play it cool. Forget the thimble,” Larry said.
“What do you talk to chicks about?” Jay asked.
Larry glanced down at the patrol car, pulling in behind the Honda. “You really wanna know?”
“Yeah, what makes, Larry “the King” Fisher so irresistible?” Jay asked.
Larry avoided Jay’s gaze.
“They flock to you,” Jay said.
“Art,” Larry said, exhaling.
“Art?” Jay looked at him.
“Yep,” Larry nodded.
“You don’t know squat about art,” Jay said.
“Sure do, all about Van Gogh and that guy with the paint drippings…,” Larry started.
“Jackson Pollock?” Jay volunteered.
“Yeah. Girls love a Renaissance man,” Larry said. “You don’t have to know a whole lot about it. Just throw it out there. Sometimes I drop a Shakespeare line or two.”
“You quote Shakespeare?” Jay asked. “Because you don’t even own a book.”
“What?” Larry pecked at a mosquito..
“Say one,” Jay said.
“Can’t think of any right now,” Larry watched the cop below. The poodle was going nuts.
Jay narrowed his beady bird eyes.
“I found a bunch of cool stuff online,” Larry said, grinning.
“You just Google, ‘Shakespearian Pickup Lines’?” Jay asked.
“I just remembered one,” Larry said.
“I can’t wait,” Jay shook his head. “Speak loudly. Between the car alarm and the poodle, it’ll be hard to hear.”
Larry puffed out his chest and recited, “We’ve got to risk implosion. We may explode into the biggest fireball this part of the galaxy has seen, but we’ve got to take that one-in-a-million chance.”
“That’s not Shakespeare. That’s Captain Kirk,” Jay said.
“Jay, if there’s one thing chicks dig more than Shakespeare, it’s Captain Kirk,” Larry said. “Hey look, there are those Carolina Chickadees. Want to give it a whirl?”
“I know a few lines from the Breakfast Club,” Jay said.
“That’s perfect,” Larry said.
As they spread their wings and flew, a tiny copper thimble fell away, bouncing off the Honda and setting off the alarm and the poodle, once again.