Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bird Sacrifice

A response to Loren Eaton and B. Nagel's "Shared Storytelling: Six Birds".

I waited in the police interrogation room with a black one-way mirror and the steel-legged faux wood table. I wished I hadn't left my kindle in the car. I thought it would be simple, a quick report to let them know that the mystery was solved, everything was fine, and I could go back to the library and life would continue. But no, the desk sergeant said I had to talk to one of the officers. I'd waited thirty-seven minutes, I was bored stiff. I'd already tried the door and it was locked. Look, I worked in a library couldn't they see I wasn't a menace.

The door opened and two officers entered, I didn't recognize either of them. "There must be a mistake," I said rising to my feet. They towered over my five foot seven, 115 pound frame.

"You reported the birds?" asked the officer with a mustache.

"Yeah." A lump stuck in my throat. The library wouldn't open on time today.

"No mistake," said the other one. "I'm Mario, with the FBI, and this is Derek, my department liaison. Please, sit down." At least there wasn't a spotlight shining in my eyes. "Tell us about the birds."

"It's nothing," I said. "The mystery has been solved. It --"

"No," said Mario. "Start at the beginning." Didn't they have my damn notes on this case? I had updated them every day. "Come on, we don't have all day."

I rolled my eyes. What more could they do to me? "It started April 1st. I didn't think much of it at the time, a single dead bird by the library door. No big deal."

"Why?" asked Mario.

"I was short on sleep. My advisor gave me an ultimatum to finish my dissertation next month. I've worked nights on it. That's why I never noticed Ebenezer --"

"Derek, make a note of that." Mario shifted in his chair. "This Ebenezer, he was there on the first day."

"No, well yes. This is a miscommunication. Ebenezer --"

"Stop!" Mario's jowls puffed full of air. "Tell it from the start, no jumping around. Otherwise, Derek will jail you."

Ebenezer was a cat. This was ridiculous. I sighed, I would try it their way. "At the end of the day, the bird carcass disappeared. A single yellow-tipped gray feather blew in a whirlwind trapped by the cement canyons near the library.

"The second day, two carcasses, almost identical birds, laid on the cement near the door. I shoved them to the side and didn't give them much thought. At the end of the day, the bodies disappeared. I'd see one feather floating in the air. This continued with three birds on the third day, four birds on the fourth day, five birds on the fifth day."

"And you didn't suspect anything?" asked Mario.

"No, not until the sixth day. There were six little dead birds ranged along the base of the wall. Not evenly spaced or staged, but looking like they all took a concrete dive from three stories up. It was then that I called the campus police. By the time they arrived, the birds had disappeared again. On the seventh day, I took a picture of the birds and showed it to the campus police. This continued, getting more frightening every day as one more bird waited on the cement for me."

"Were these all the same birds, just one more added every day?"

"Well, now that I know about Ebenezer --"

"Not yet. Answer the question we asked."


"How did you know, did you do a biopsy?"

These questions continued. It was all pointless. Why wouldn't they let me get to the end. They didn't need to know every little detail. I looked at the clock hanging above the mirrored window. I should have opened the library two hours ago.

"Did you tell anyone else about this?" asked Mario, he paced as I became recalcitrant.


He stopped, placed two fists on the table and leaned forward. "What kind of answer is maybe? We're doing our job and you think this is a game."

I met his gaze, but couldn't keep it long. I'd laugh and I didn't want Mario to hit me again. "Look, who cares?"

"Just answer our questions," said Mario.


"Derek confines you in a cell until you talk."

I rolled my eyes. Who cared if a cat killed a few birds. It must happen every day.

Mario kicked his chair back from the table until the top over-balanced and it smashed to the floor. "Derek, lock him up."

"Wait --"

"Too late. We'll talk later."

Derek placed cuffs on my hands, the metal heavier than I expected. He pushed me down the hallway.

"Why are you doing this?"

He didn't answer, just pushed me ahead of him. I'd never been locked in jail before. I'd read Shawshank Redemption, but this was a county jail, it couldn't be that bad.

"Look, you should talk. It will go better for you."

"What do you suspect I've done?" He didn't answer me. That confirmed it. There had to be something.

He opened the gray bars of my cell. I stumbled and fell against the blue-striped thin mattress. His keys jangled in the lock. I reclined on the mattress. I wished I had my kindle. I wondered what would happen to my car when the parking meter expired.

They brought in another guy, he weaved, I guessed he was drunk. After the officers left, he grasped the bars between our cells and looked at me. "What'd you do?"

I sighed. Hours ago it would have been laughable. "Dead birds."

"Like those six birds on the White House lawn? It's all over TV."

I groaned. How long would it take them to discover the president's cat was leaving sacrifices.


  1. Oh, bureaucracy. Poor librarian.

    The cats have a conspiracy going... :)

  2. Poor library worker. But he should no better than to report a cat. I guess he never read Lovecraft's cat story.

  3. Ah, I was wondering what the twist would be! Seems Socks the cat has some 'splaining to do.

  4. I love that the cat is named Ebenezer. This was fun! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for the comments. Yes, cat's have always been conspiring against me, especially toe's our current cat who leaves me birds.

    B.Nagel: the protagonist wasn't supposed to know that it was a cat until the last day; but looking back, it's never stated so I may revise to make that clearer.

  6. Oh that was delightful. This is the first one I've read for the shared story - I had to work today - and I really wish I'd done something like this. Very funny, well written.

    I'm enjoying your site too. Always like to meet new people.