A Special Letter

He opened the letter quickly, hoping it would contain a cheque for $80. What he would do for $80! The postmark was smeared and the envelope had a printed address of the sender on it, which was just obscure enough that it could have been a prize of some sort from a competition of some sort. They never advertise the fact that they’re sending you a credit card in the mail, do they? Maybe it was like that.

It wasn’t.

It was quite different.

It was a voucher for a discount at the local pet shop. Jimmy had bought birdseed a few weeks ago for Old Bert, who lived next door, and who had a rather plump budgie he called Henry. Henry had lived with his sweetheart Muriel for some years in their cage, hanging up at the back veranda part of the house, up against the lush backyard, with a distant view of the district beyond the city where it was green, although it looked blue sometimes, and there were trees and birds and animals, and the land rose and fell gently as a wave laps at a baby’s ankles.

Who knows exactly what happened, but Muriel was gone. Had been absent for a few days. She’d made a break for it. For the green (or blue) beyond, or so Old Bert thought. In reality Muriel had flown down a side street, stopped to eat fruit outside a house, as she was hungry at the prospect of freedom, and was taken in by a neighbour only a few metres away. Bert sometimes forgot to feed his babies. He could be absent-minded.

The idea was to give Henry a treat. Take his mind off things. Henry hadn’t escaped by opening the door, as Muriel had, as he wanted to stay, because he liked living there – or that was the theory. In reality Henry was less than adequate in the upstairs department. He had thought about following Muriel, but, with her gone, he couldn’t get his head around the method she had employed to escape. And besides, Bert was an OK companion, who mostly fed him, he supposed.

Now Jimmy looked at the voucher and read it again. A discount on the slightly more expensive seed he had been tasked to buy recently. What was the point in that?

He shook his head. He shuffled back towards the house.

Something told him to stop and turn around. He opened his gate and began walking across the road to Old Bert’s house. He’d give Bert the voucher.

He peered through a window when there was no answer at the door. Inside, the house was dark and still. No noises could be heard. He carefully made his way around the back of the house, to the back veranda, where he hoped to be able to get in through a door which was frequently left unlocked. He found Old Bert, motionless on the rocky surrounds of his fish pond. He had fallen from a step ladder – a step ladder positioned to help secure the door to the bird cage on the veranda – and he had fallen about two metres – and he was dead, and Henry was gone, presumably having used the ounce of gumption nature grants all its creatures, no matter how otherwise lacking they are, to push open the cage door as Bert was fiddling with it, thus causing him to spin around and reach out, too far, and fall.

Jimmy decided the voucher was useless now.

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Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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