The Iron Writer Weekend Quickie #17

piano couple

The Iron Writer Weekend Quickie #17

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Four

One Picture

One Element

One Emotion

200 Words

An old couple playing the piano

Four Colly Birds


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6 thoughts on “The Iron Writer Weekend Quickie #17

  1. ‘Alice is bringing dinner,’ the nurse said, interrupting the old man who was playing a duet with his wife’s friend Molly, ‘“Dad’s Birthday Tea”, whatever that is.’

    The old man grinned. ‘My birthdays were picnics with cold chicken pie, salad and cake. You’re staying, Molly?’

    She nodded, smiled. ‘Remember when Alice was ten? She’d rescued a baby blackbird who’d fallen from its nest?’

    ‘We’d hiked to our picnic spot,’ he continued. ‘Alice had made the pie. It looked magnificent.’

    ‘She was so excited,’ Molly said, ‘she was euphoric!’

    ‘Well, I started to slice into the pie when Alice yelled me to stop. We heard a peep. She tipped up the piecrust and there was her little blackbird looking somewhat the worse for wear.’

    ‘“It was supposed to sing,” she cried.

    ‘“One little colly-bird, not four,” I murmured, “certainly not five-and-twenty.”’

    ‘A disaster, poor kid,’ Molly said, ‘her Daddy’s surprise had a crust too tough for a baby blackbird and the silly thing pooped all over the inside of the pie so we couldn’t eat it.’

    ‘And then, to top it all off, the little blackbird flew off.’

    ‘So that’s what Alice meant,’ the nurse said. ‘She said to tell you, “No colly-birds. Promise.”’

  2. Ryan reached out and touched the door and it swung open easily under her fingers. Tinkling piano music spilled out and engulfed her, cloaking Ryan in the perfect joy of recognition. She stepped forward onto the pink shag carpeting that lined the train car. Sunlight spilled through the windows, curtained in rose-patterned gauze. Porcelain birds covered every surface, posed in flight, nesting, perched calling on branches. Those birds had been Nana’s pride and joy. In fact, the only time Ryan remembered being scolded by her beloved grandparents was the time that she had broken one, and then lied about it. The tears in her Papa’s eyes at the lie had been almost more than she could bear.
    At the piano, oh at the piano sat her Nana and Papa themselves, lost to Ryan now for five years when Nana finally gave in to the dementia and illness that had claimed her completely two years before. Still, here they were, playing Heart and Soul as a duet as they always had. Ryan cried out and they turned, smiling widely, their dark eyes twinkling as they always had.
    “So,” Nana said, exactly as she had when Ryan was a girl, “I see our girl has come for a visit.”
    Ryan ran across the room, flinging herself into their arms, breathing in the scent of Nana’s rosewater, and Papa’s pipe tobacco. She scrubbed her face back and forth across the rough polyester of her grandfather’s cardigan, and stroked Nana’s long white hair where it spilled down her back.
    “What are you doing here?” she asked.

  3. Part 4

    He was lost with no sign of the man. If this followed the twelve days of Christmas, then four calling birds were next. Walking down an almost empty street full of terrace houses, he heard a piano playing. The sound was coming from a house with an open door. Whoever it was, they were playing that same song! Was this…? It had to be him! Brad ran into the house and there he was, playing an upright as bold as brass.
    “I’m arresting you for the theft of…!”
    “You know, we used to sit together playing the old upright piano…ah, it was euphoria to hear her play Rachmaninoff.”
    The man had four blackbirds in a cage next to him on the stool.
    “I thought it was meant to be calling birds?”
    “Four ‘Colly’ birds, blackbirds. Common mistake.”
    “You learn something every day. Now, you’re under arrest for…”
    The man turned and fired his device at Brad. Apparently it doubled as a weapon. He went down like a ton of bricks. As Brad lost consciousness on the carpet, he noticed the man continuously pressing a button on his device and swearing. The last thing Brad saw was the man running out.

  4. Maddened by his failure yesterday to save three more innocent lives, Darby ran down clue after clue, desperate to end the killings.

    Elsewhere, the hooded woman’s euphoric voice sang.

“…Four colly birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

    What a quaint little family.

    When first, she came calling to their door, she saw the old man and woman sitting together at the organ through the window. Nearby a young woman knitted.

    A boy had answered the door and the hooded woman stormed in, clutching a knife to his throat. She forced the three adults to silence and gather.

    They sat huddled and trembling.

    “Let us be girl. Take what you want, but let us be,” the old man pleaded.

    Her song stopped and rage lit upon her face.

    “What I want, is revenge. Yesterday, three villagers paid for their crimes. Today, your family makes amends.”

    “Amends for what?” sobbed the old woman.

    “One so decrepit, should remember the cleansing.”

    The old woman quieted, her eyes wide in terror.

    “Yes,” said the hooded woman. “You do. I bet you even stood around the fires throwing curses and stones.”

    “Time to die, my little blackbirds.”

  5. I snatched the tiny bottle and removed the cork. The elixir, long since turned to dust, but a little water would restore it miraculous powers. I dashed into the next room, stumbling over more French hens than a French whore house held. I dipped the bottle in the tiny trough. I waited until the pungent odor filled my nostrils. I drank.
    Euphoric, my senses more than alive, I looked heavenward for the confirmation. And it was there. Four colly birds, calling me as they did in my youth, telling me I was invincible. For the next hour or so anyway.
    I left the coop, raising my nose to the air, finding the Grinch’s sillage. I bounded towards the farmhouse, confident I was on her trail. I crashed through the back door, the kitchen and into the living room. An elderly couple was playing the piano while singing “FIVE GOLD RINGS…FOUR COLLY BIRD, THREE FRENCH HENS…”
    They were ignorant of my presence, but it didn’t matter. I knew the Grinch had already left the farm. And I knew where she was headed. The Menorah was missing off the piano and it was Christmas. A church was the only place to be.

  6. FX : Train sounds at moderate speed, under the indistinct singing of Romeo and Juliet as they sit together on a crate. Jack was lying against another crate, totally incapacitated, but aware of much of what was going on around him.”

    Romeo – “When we get out of this mess, we’ll get married and buy a house, and we’ll raise a family, grow old together and we’ll sing, and make music until the day we die.”

    Juliet – “Oh Romeo, Romeo … “

    Narrator – “But Juliet’s words were cut short as the boxcar door pops open and four men dressed in black practically fly into the car. Rising to their feet and backing up against the wall, Romeo and Juliet were struck with terror as the intruders advanced forward. The drug dealers had caught up with them; and THESE were “rare birds” indeed”

    1st Intruder – “You owe us a lot of money.”

    2nd Intruder – “ … and we’ve had a lot of trouble because of you. If you don’t have the money with you NOW, we’re gonna have to … ”

    FX : sounds of Juliet sobbing under

    Romeo – “We’ll pay you, we’ll PAY you … “

    3rd Intruder – “They don’t have it.”

    4th Intruder – “Party time, boys.”

    Narrator – “At that, the four of them proceeded to beat the two mercilessly.

    FX: assorted sounds of moans, cries, scuffling, and heavy blows

    Narrator – “The scene was horrific. The four black figures seemed euphoric in their interpretation of “justice” as they “picked and pecked” at the two helpless “doves”. After about 15 minutes of “hell on Earth”, one of them pulled a gun.”

    FX: four gun shots echo in the boxcar’s confinement

    Narrator – “Aware of everything, but unable to help, Jack was so traumatized by the shear senselessness of the excessive violence he vomited in wrenching convulsions. Looking up at the four with incredulous confusion, all he could utter was …”

    Jack – “Why?”

    Narrator – “Looking over from the two dead bodies toward Jack, the four colly birds quickly moved to the boxcar door and were gone. Staring at the lifeless lovers, Jack felt very alone in a world where all love seemed dead; it felt a very cold world indeed.”

    FX: Jack sobbing and moaning with train sounds under

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