Monday, March 28, 2011

Triumph of a Quail (a short story)

Triumph of a Quail Inasmuch as I have put to myself the task of trying to tell you an inquisitive story in which I am myself apprehensive—I shall begin by leaving you with some notion of me (3-28-2011). Very well then, I am a man of sixty-three, rather a robust in size and with auburn hair, what’s left of it. I wear glasses. Until five years ago, I lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I had a few different positions, a psychologist for the Federal Government Prison system, and an entrepreneur—of a small sort, and a poet and writer of a small stature. I am married to a Peruvian woman, and have moved to Lima—although I am still a resident of Minnesota for the most part. And have adopted an abandoned Quail. We named her after the preacher that brought her to us, homeless, and have since put her in our house garden, her name being, Marcelina. She has in a way of speaking, a quiet form of smiling at one, as though to say…we may go into that later. It was a hard jolt for me, to take on a quail, feed her, and try to not look foolish in the process of adopting her, and talking to her, and perhaps even now, after a month of having her, there might be a kind of satisfaction in making myself look silly by telling of it—this story, which is really only an account of how a quail, triumphed. To tell the truth, I felt in the beginning a little foolish that I should be feeding her along with the other birds that come into our open garden daily—a special diet, chasing pigeons away from her—they appeared as if they were interested in her, and were following her as if to attack her; as if I am a grand guard standing at the gate to the Garden of Eden like Gabriel, pacing back and forth. “I’ve an idea,” my wife told me. “What?” I asked. “I’ll take your idea of a night light that could heat up a box, and make a box for Marcelina, and she’ll sleep in it at night.” Well she did just that, found a big cardboard box, for the plump little quail, that didn’t care to go into the box but sat outside along the glass door on a mat, until I finished reading at night, let’s say, 2:00 a.m. and learning she was afraid of the dark—I had to learn Quail-logy, the tone of my voice she knows now, and I’ve told her it is safe to go into that box house at night, so after I leave my office at 2:00 a.m., she does just that. She’s just a big baby, and shits as must as one big human baby, or as often I should say, as one. She had my sympathies for a while, but to be truthful, it is waning. “Hurry up over here, see Marcelina,” my wife cries to me, a few days ago. She’s learned something new, I think from the sparrows, or maybe me. “What?” I ask my wife. “Look, just look at her all sprawling body and soft feathers, and kind eyes, laying there.” She actually looked as if she was sunbathing on the Lima beach. So I looked, and she was correct, Marcelina had learned fast how to be lazy. ‘Gee whiz,’ I said to myself, ‘what’s next?’ Well, what was next is this: every time a pigeon comes, she now calls me to come into the garden—breaks my concentration of writing, and sure enough, there is a pigeon. But now she calls me at night because she’s still a little afraid of the dark—can you imagine a quail afraid of the dark, by gosh, had I not experienced this with my own eyes, I’d had told anybody who told me: a quail was afraid of the dark, to go see colleague of mine. If anything, I’m getting more exercise these days. I keep thinking of when we go to the mountains where we have another home, and stay there for three months out of each year, what will become of her. Let’s be honest, how long can this go on? My wife is hoping she has a longevity living in our garden. I’m praying she sprouts those little wings (more like fins) and gets married soon, or finds a mate. The good thing is, they don’t get extraordinarily large, the bad thing is, they don’t get immaculately clean. Now for Marcelina Rose’s story. Yes, my wife Rosa has given her a second name of all things. Anyhow, her story is interesting. Some person in a car dropped her off at the church, of all things. It was late in the afternoon, and a dog had chased her, and evidently he was hungry, and had deadly intentions. And Father Marcelo came to the rescue, he and several young church members, they came waving their arms and calling to the quail—as if the quail was going to march over to them. So the quail of course had three traumatic experiences in a roll: the car thing, the hungry dog, and now the kids waving their hands trying to rescue the creature, and did, and put her in a cloths basket—a wobbly prison for her. Dang it all! Now for the neighbour, that is me and Rosa, so we ended up with her; for the first week, she hid behind the totem pole in the garden, and then worked her way all the way to my glass door—I was hoping she’d silently work her way back to the totem pole, but that also scares her at night. And when she yelps, all the neighbours can hear her, she somehow extends that neck of hers four inches or so—and that’s a lot for her, because she’s not much longer than that, and whatever she’s saying comes out like a rustic bell—echoing like a loudspeaker. All channelled through that extended neck. But I have learned something of all this: big brain little brain, I don’t know what she has, but she feels pain, and she feels love and she can feel hunger, and safety, and she knows cold from hot. She can learn certain behaviours, I don’t think Carl Sagan would like to hear this but, she’s not as dumb as you might think she should be—she knows who wants to hurt her, and who doesn’t—she can get tightly gripped with the latter. As for her story—she couldn’t tell it, and so I’ve tried to do my best for her, that is to say, I’ve perhaps used the imaginative side of myself to explain her, but it’s the best I can do—and she has, if anything, thus far, triumphed. No: 785 (3-28-2011) For Rosa, Marcelina and Father Marcelo