The Frailty of Birds
by James R. Tomlinson
With the rising cost in prescription medication and her husband’s small veteran’s disability pay, Allison wonders how she’ll survive. She wants to help Latisha Sanchez, no doubt there, and what better way to make amends for Lloyd’s past digression: calling Hector Sanchez “an overpaid Mexican landscaper.”
Latisha spearheads the homeowner’s association. She’s collecting money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Are you sure it’s okay to come in?”
Allison glances over her shoulder; Lloyd’s preoccupied fixing the wall switch for his reading lamp. “Please,” she motions.
“You must forgive my Hector,” Latisha says, “he’s anal about those bylaws.”
“It’s Lloyd who should apologize,” Allison counters. “I warned him about pumping water from the creek. Let the grass turn brown, I said. But he wouldn’t listen.”
“Who are you talking to?”
“I thought I smelled cocoa butter.”
“Ignore him,” Allison suggests.
Lloyd continues, “Remember how you complained about those damn crows attacking the sparrows and chickadees?”
“Well get in here woman!”
“It’s okay,” Allison reassures Latisha. They step into the family room.
“Watch,” Lloyd instructs, pointing outside.
A metal pole supports a birdfeeder; beneath it: a birdbath. Two crows are splashing about.
“What are we watching?” Latisha asks Allison.
“I’m not sure.”
“You’ll see,” Lloyd promises.
Soon enough, the crows land on the support bar of the birdfeeder and start pecking and kicking seed. Lloyd flicks the wall switch and yells, “Fry you dirty bastards!”
One loosens its grip and flees; the other is shocked.
(James R. Tomlinson is still in prison, doing time in 8-hour increments. His most recent stories can be read at Staccato and Diverse Voices Quarterly.)