So I motored away from class yesterday afternoon, straight into the clutches of Dr. F. and the teeth-gritting sounds of his dental equipment.
I won't bore you with the gruesome details. When I left his office, I was sure that, later on, I was gonna feel like this:
I did what any maimed-in-the-mouth Celt would do under such circumstances. I went to the Shoppers Food Warehouse. I purchased $48.17 worth of supplies, just in case I should expire later in the evening. Heaven forbid my lifeless body should be found in a house with an empty pantry. Also stopped at the Lorton Shell to gas up the Mighty Bug with $38.54 worth of petrol. Saints save us that my expired remains should be found in a house where the small blue car in the drive had been starved, its gas gauge pointing to E.
Oh. I also chased a teenaged bird around the basement.
The condition of the homefront seemed pretty standard when I opened the front door and schlepped the groceries and a leather sack full of hernia-enducing tech books up the six stairs to the main hall. The Labbies circled around, wigglin' and wagglin' and grinning with their pink tongue smiles. "Good woman, we are happy to see you, but we have been sleeping all day like lazy lumps in the cool air, and now we are hungry, and, after a Purina repast, will require a gallop to the river so we can eat minnows."
I changed my clothes and fed them each a cup 'o dog chow. Soon the front gate was opened, and they romped out to the street towards the Potomac. They galloped and sniffed and peed and pranced like circus horses. I trudged behind. It was 96 degrees, and the novocaine was wearing off.
After our return, Walt was soon asleep on the floor at the top of the stairs of this split-level. The lad was fat, full and foolish, dreaming about chasing bunnies and duckies. I stepped over him to retrieve the mail I had left on the kitchen table, and on the way back to my office, I saw it.
A bird. Sitting between two slats of the bannister, about five inches away from Walt's dozing nose.
Not a chick, yet it wasn't fully grown, as it still had dorky-looking fuzz on its head and wings. "What are you doing there, little bird?" I asked it, like it was gonna tell me. My guess was perhaps it flew in the front door when I was schlepping in the groceries, a wrong turn while trying new wings. Or maybe it just walked in, hopped up the stairs, and didn't know where else to go. Its round eyes were large. And very scared.
Walt, brilliant watchdog, continued to slumber as I stepped over him again to get a closer look at the fledgling. It let me pet its head, and stroke its left wing.
Then Walt, still in sleep, sneezed.
The blast from the Labbie schnoz blew the little bird backwards, and it opened its wings and drifted down the space between the split-level stairs to the hard cold floor of the basement. Freak flag flying, it started squawking.
And running. Fast. Like it had sneakers on.
All around the basement. It encountered a hairball on the floor that was about the size of my head. This caused an abrupt change in direction so it could bump into a leg of a beach chair. Turning west, it squeezed itself through an open space between the spokes of the front wheel of my bike, then jumped into a nearby open box and sat in an old pot.
What to do?
Well, I knew it could fly, a little, and it could definitely run, so maybe the fat cats in the neighborhood wouldn't be able to keep up. It didn't belong in the basement, so I carefully picked up the box and gently took it out to the side yard through the cellar door.
I put the box down on the ground near the big oak tree by the driveway, and scooped Chicken Little out of the pot and placed it in the grass. It took one look at me, as if to say, "Sayounara, suckah" and ran up the side of the oak tree. Like you or I walking up a wall, wearing suction-cup shoes.
Pass the Advil, please.
Alfalfa Photo: http://www.andychristie.com/graphics/toothache.jpg