Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flying South for the Winter

They set out on a winter’s day, heading south. They’d had enough of winter with its cold winds, snow and ice. That was no way for a bird to live. Maxine fussed around packing her suitcase while mallard looked over the map one more time. South covered a lot of territory and he had to be sure he was leading the flock to good feeding grounds. He’d heard the Carolinas were nice in the winter. And all he had to do was follow the coastline. The marshes at the point of Cape Hatteras and further south on Core Banks were game refuges and his flock could bask in the warm sun while they fed on tiny shrimp and grains of beach grasses. He could hardly wait to start.

“Did you hear the weatherman? There is a nor’easter blowing on the Carolinas,” Maxine shouted from the bedroom.

“Drat. We will have to wait till that moves off shore to start, then,” Mallard called back to her.

“No way, Mallard Q. Duck. I am ready to go, and go we shall. Just lead us around it. We can skirt the edge and go on down to the Savannahs. They hardly ever have a storm down there,” Maxine said.

“What do you know of skirting around storms? That’s three hundred more miles and the Savannahs are open to hunters. We will be risking half the flock.”

“Not if we fly high enough. Those Rednecks are more about drinking beer than bagging a duck. We’ll be fine. Come on now, Mallard. Let’s get moving. I want to get there and tell Penny Quackers what I heard last night at the flap-a-thon about that hussy PinTail and that Coot from the Finger Lakes. And those poor ducklings . . .”

Mallard shook his head in dismay. Not only was it bad enough winter had come early this year, now he had to go three hundred miles out of the way and that meant three hundred miles more of listening to Maxine go on and on, gossiping with anyone that would listen to her. He folded that map and stuck it under his wing. Might as well get started and get it over with soon as possible.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Crime of Passion

I saw her standing there with vacant eyes; blood all over her white organza dress. Taylor lay at her feet in more blood. I backed away slowly, the way they say you should move away from a rattlesnake about to strike. I prayed the privet hedge shielded me from being noticed by Virginia O’Donald, but I don’t believe she’d have seen me if I’d been standing right in front of her face. She was totally out of it, in another world.

I saw and heard the whole thing. Taylor and Virginia were engaged to be married. The wedding date was set for mid June, just a few weeks away. Everyone knew Taylor was a womanizer and had only asked Virginia to marry him because of her money. Everyone knew except Virginia, and really she knew deep in her heart all these things were true. But she was head over heels in love with the heel, and like they say, “Love is blind.” If only tonight Virginia had been blind.

Virginia was walking in the garden to get away from the crowd for a moment. I had done the same and was admiring the roses. I was not aware there were others in the garden. Virginia evidently rounded the camellia bushes and there was Taylor and Elizabeth in a very compromising position under the weeping willow next to the fishpond. There just happened to be a pair of pruning shears on a bench, left by the gardener early that morning. Elizabeth ran screaming toward the house.

Now Virginia was standing there, just standing there. And life was about to change for us all.