Note: We've had so much fun with serialized stories that I'm trying my hand at one again! Here's the next installment of a new adventure for Cara Mia Delgatto and her friends. To read Parts 1 and 2, scroll to the bottom of the blog post and click on OLDER POSTS.
A few days later, I was arranging a group of tin cans that Skye had turned into beautiful lanterns when a loud squawk scared the dickens out of me. My first thought was that a bird had somehow found its way into the store. But as I turned around, and as another squawk followed the first, I realized this must be a monster-sized avian to make such a loud racket.
Putting down my inventory clipboard, I scurried to the front of the store. There stood a small woman, caving in on herself, barely strong enough to support the magnificent white bird perched on her shoulder. Her skin was that ashy-gray color so common to people suffering from cancer, a symptom I knew all too well.
"Helen? Kookie loves you!" screamed the bird, leaning in to nuzzle the sagging skin on my guest's face.
"And I love you, too, Kookie." The woman lifted a knotted hand to stroke the bird's belly.
This pleased the animal. He ruffled up his feathers, so that he was fully twice his size. Even from a distance, I could see his pupils dilate and contract with interest as he took in his new surroundings. A thin ring of bright blue was around each of his eyes, a lovely contrast to the stark white of his feathers.
"You must be Honora's friend Helen," I said. Usually I would extend my hand for a greeting, but my fear of birds made me jam all my digits into a pocket of my Lilly Pulitzer vintage skirt.
"Yes, dear, I am. Honora told me you agreed to give Kookie a home. His cage and his stand are in my car. Unfortunately, I had to have help loading them up. They're rather heavy. I'm wondering if you'd be so good as to get them out for me?" The voice quivered with sadness, and correspondingly, a lump formed in my throat.
"One second." I turned and walked to the back. "MJ? Could you come out here a minute? I need help."
"What do you need?" MJ seemed a tad bit peeved to be taken away from her work. She'd been busy calling around trying to find a piece of wicker for a customer. But the irked expression softened when she caught sight of Helen and Kookie.
"We need to grab some things from Helen's car."
Although she's shaped like a pinup girl, MJ is pretty strong. After taking the keys from Helen and assuring her that we'd be right back, my friend and I walked outside to where a long, white Cadillac sat pulled up at the curb. The car must have been fifteen years old. Maybe twenty. The inside was pristine, although it smelled a little like funky bird seed. Together MJ and I tackled moving the bird equipment. As we grunted, she said, "That's one beautiful bird. You realize, don't you, that birds like that sell for at least a grand. Maybe even two."
"You're kidding me."
"No. I never joke about money. You should know that by now."
That was true. I cleared my throat as we managed to extricate the cage from the back seat. "So, are you suggesting we sell the bird? After all, Helen told Honora that Kookie needs a new home. That doesn't preclude us from finding him one with a loving family."
"Actually, I think you'd get a lot more mileage out of displaying the bird," said MJ as she started walking backwards with both hands on the bottom of the cage. "Think of it as a living display piece."
"Right," I groused. "One that poops all over my floor."
~To Be Continued~