Once upon a time. ……this is the way we are used to some stories starting. However, this is not that sort of a story. This is a story about – why don’t we just get on with it and see what happens!
It was a beautiful, sunny, summery day. The sky was a bright blue with not a sign of a cloud anywhere in sight. There was a gentle breeze softly rustling the leaves in the trees. It was cooling to the skin if you were outside. Pleasantly so. It wasn’t a hot day after all. The perfect temperature in fact – mid twenties (centigrade).
Suddenly an almighty BANG! echoed through the air disturbing the gentle, serene ambience. Birds which had been chirruping happily in the branches of the nearby tree were startled out of their reverie and flew off with outraged squarks of protest. A cat which had been lazily eyeing off a potential snack under the tree jumped in fright, hissing and spitting. On the other side of a nearby fence a dog, which also had been eyeing off a potential quarry to chase, yelped and ran off to cower under the car parked in the driveway. Nature’s tranquillity had been severely disrupted.
What was the cause of such a commotion you ask? Nothing else seemed to have changed. Just the sound and the startled animals. However, if you looked really closely down the straight, dusty road leading into this part of the neighbourhood, you could see a figure looming larger in the distance.
The closer it got, the clearer you could see it. It was a young man sauntering along, hands in pockets, hat perched jauntily at an angle on his head. A toothpick seemingly with a mind of its own was wandering from side to side in his mouth as he tunelessly whistled while he walked. Dusty boots. Old, once crisp cream coloured jeans were topped with a once white shirt, long sleeves rolled up to the elbows, unbuttoned half way down his chest. It put a finishing touch to his ensemble. A five o’clock shadow and piercing blue eyes were the most prominent features on his otherwise nondescript face.
Just where he had come from and where he was going was a mystery.
What was certain is that he knew exactly where he was going. There was a solid steadiness about him that exuded an air of confidence, control and purpose. As he reached the site of the startled animals he stopped.
Looking up he whistled gently to the birds which had returned to their roost on the branches. As if summonsed by their master, the birds flew down to him. On command, they alighted on his shoulders – all six of them. He smiled, cooed gently to them and continued his journey. Only to stop and turn around. This time, he called the cat with a soft miaow. It had returned to its sleeping spot under the tree. Lazily, the cat opened its eyes, turned its head to look at who was calling him. The man called again, this time with a more commanding voice. Almost disdainfully, the cat stood up, arched its back, stretching and yawning. It eyed the man for a few seconds as if deciding what to do. Then with a flick of its tail, it sauntered over and wrapped itself around the man’s legs. He reached down and scratched it between the ears. The cat purred contentedly. Behind the fence, the dog had emerged from its hiding place under the car. It was looking at the man and his menagerie, whining longingly . The man smiled, nodded, and whistled. The dog eagerly jumped the fence, ran over to the man and sat next to the cat, tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth. None of the animals seemed in the least bit interested in each other. The man reached down, scratched the dog under the chin and between the ears as he murmured endearments to it. He continued his journey.
It was a strange sight, to see the man with birds perched on either shoulder, followed by a black cat and a white dog. At the same time it seemed to be a perfectly natural thing. As if they belonged together in harmonious companionship. If you were to continue watching them, you would see them gradually diminishing in size until they disappeared from view altogether.
What was the bang? Who knows …
© Raili Tanska – October 3, 2015