Gray Ghost: Part One - Bird People

Note to reader, Many an entertaining evening tale has passed through the lips of my distinguished screen writer friend Mick from Pasadena.  Once in a while an event, an incident, or an idea provokes my obligation to return the favor...

Mick -

The last story I sent you has gone over well with the internet audience.
Figured you probably scrounged a visit to a friend with a network connection to read part three.
If not I can send it.  It will make you crazy... Part of the "Warren Family Therapy Plan"


- Van

Well there we were, the five of us, crammed into our cramped Pasadena home.  Pasadena, if you don't know, is hemmed in by the San Gabriel mountains, a beautiful southern outcropping of the Sierras.  The cost of living is high there, and Lord knows we'd been feeling it for years.  Our high paying jobs did little to defray the exhorbitant rent, so we were more like high tech sharecroppers, than living the good life we'd hoped for.

But we did have our moments, we loved our kids, we loved our animals and we loved each other.  We used what little was left over to visit the zoo and send money to those relief organizations.  Despite our time in the city we didn't know too many people, but we had a pile of "picture kids". We hadn't seen our relatives in years, even my brother's kids were getting old.  We would help our neighbors whenever we could and spent our time living hand to mouth as best we could, till that fateful day.

Turns out the Captive California Condor breeding program had gone better than expected.  What had started with a few chicks at the zoo had turned into a flourishing flock navigating the high hills with ease.  Once in a while you'd see a bird whose span was so large you knew it was one of those flying Gray Ghosts, those B-52's of the avian kingdom, riding on the mountain breeze, sometimes coming all the way down the ridge into sunny P-town, P for palm trees, P for pricey.

One day we were surprised to find a little tiny bird on our sidewalk.  If we hadn't gotten it out of the sun sooner it would have died for sure.  It was ungainly, and so young no feathers had covered it; just big quills sticking out of it skin. The head was big, the body was small and little gray chicken wings gawked out over what would someday become powerful talons.

Having raised macaws, conures and parakeets, we knew what to do, this little chick needed help and needed it fast.  My wife made put a rubber tube gizmo on the end of a syringe and mixed up that white gook that the baby birds liked. The kids talked about it at school.  It got better.  A couple of weeks went by.

One day there was a knock at the door.  It was a fellow from the city, a biology type, wet behind the ears and fresh out of school.  We figured he had heard about the bird and wanted to see it, maybe he could help us relocate it.  I kidded him at first about being a "college-man".  Stuck on a plump body was a fat little face, short curly hair and brown eyes stuck into a pimpled pie.  He wore casual, animal person clothes, so we figured he was just another person that cared for animals like we did.  He came in and looked around, even walking down the hall.  It surprised us and we kidded him for his lack of manners...

You can imagine my surprise when after the kidding was over he sat down in our living room and told us we were guilty of several state and city ordinances regarding possession of an endangered species.  The wife and I looked at each other in disbelief as he told us we would have to go in front of a judge, we would be fined four digit dollars, or would have to go to the city jail.  I had seen these government types before, but never one so young, never one who turned so quickly.  He went on to explain that if we choose jail time our kids would become "wards of the state" and that we would have to go through a rehabilitation program for animal abusers.  He rose to leave.

Suddenly I found myself thinking a thought I had never thought before, "This guy can't leave our house alive."  If he leaves and goes back to "headquarters", they would have the SWAT team here looking for that bird.  As he was reaching for the door I looked at him with serious eyes, "If you leave and I ever see you again, I'll get you".  I couldn't believe I was saying such a thing, but I meant it with every bone in my body.  What he did next amazed me.

Go To Part Two

(c) 1997 L. Van Warren * All Rights Reserved