Doctor Harold Majolica and the Little Car

August 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm (Doctor Majolica) (, , , , )

There are worse things a bird could come to specialise in. I used to know a magpie who was hired by a fortune teller to stand in front of her stall and mutter ‘one for sorrow’ in the hope of attracting superstitious clients.  Ravens are continually rented for gothic weddings, its hard work perching on a woman’s shoulder for hours on end, especially if the dress is silk, which it almost always will be. The whole practise is ostentatious if you ask me; and discriminatory, they would never hire a crow like me. Don’t get me started on canaries, they have a rough deal. The fight is mostly over for the poor fellows now, but it still happens; the cages, the smoke. But that is not to say that things are all bad for us, I knew a white rook who got a major role in a BBC miniseries. Major for a bird, anyway

It could be much worse, but even so, my current job is demeaning. I’m a freelance Constricted Object Retrieval Specialist. It pays alright when there’s work, but it is hard to attract clients when you’re barely ten inches off the ground. What my job boils down to is retrieving objects from nooks and crannies which most human hands are unable to reach. It’s a hard service to pitch, especially when you’re an odd looking bird like me. Not many people are willing to part with their hard earned cash to retrieve debit cards and key rings from the grills along the pavement. And if they are interested, a few of them are put off by the sight of the long, skinny, bluish hands attached to the end of my wings. Sometimes it can work out; I’ve earned plenty before just by hanging around one drain. You only need a few clients to drop their keys and that’s you set for a couple of days. The only problem is that the client will sometimes realise that he or she is seven or eight times my size and can easily stride away while I’m trying to fly after them. I haven’t been able to fly more than a few feet at a time since I had the hands grafted, they weigh the wings down considerably, being made of dense, human bone; on top of that they severely alter the wing’s aerodynamics. It’s humiliating leaping and flapping along like a chicken, I usually just let them get away.

A little boy in dungarees approaches me one afternoon. He’s dropped his toy car down the drain in the park and he only has ten pence on him. I do it for free; I can’t take a kid’s money. I sort of want to, but I can’t. The drain in the playground was filthy, I hardly had to reach down, the car was elevated rotting leaves, animals and worse. There was a cluster of dead slugs almost touching the front wheels; I nearly shed a tear for that. I hand the boy his car and he toddles off shouting “Thanks Handy-bird”. I don’t know whether it’s the informality of his address or the cluster of little slugs, but I feel sentimental. I feel a great longing to return to my nest in Furrington wood, it was my practice, my study. I don’t think that I’ll be able to return for a long while yet. But that’s a story for another time.

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