Fiction Happy

“You’re my favourite nephew.”

“I’ll bet you say that to all of your nephews.”

“You know that you are my only nephew.”

“So it’s not a compliment then?”

“It is. I would still say that if I had as many nephews as you have sisters and female cousins. 

           I can see that she is happy to see me, but there is more to her face than that happiness. As I look around the living room I feel that it is filled with emptiness. And that emptiness can be best seen in the cage without a bird. Her precious parrot Schyler (who was named after a boyfriend long gone from her life) died the week before. They had been together for about eight years. And, living otherwise alone as she does, she is an empty cager.

           I sat down by the living room table, and she brought me a cup of tea. We talked almost exclusively about my life, how I had just become a junior lawyer in a very successful law firm. But she was happy just for me, but not for herself.

           When I left, I spoke a solemn vow as I started my car.  Her birthday was coming up in a couple of weeks. I was going to get her another parrot, the same kind as Schyler. She needed the cage and her life to be full again. 

I Went Parrot Shopping

           I went to every pet store in town, beginning with the one where my aunt had bought Schlyer and his cage: Peter’s Pet Store.  No luck. There were no parrots currently there, but he said that he was expecting a few.  Some of the stores had lovely parrots that I am sure would have made great pets, but were not the right kind for Aunt Susan. I asked whether they could order one, but I just got a response that that would be impossible. Still, I left my phone number with them, ‘just in case.’ I hadn’t done that at Peter’s Pet Store, but I will get around to doing that.

           I don’t like to give up, so I did some research. Schyler was of a parrot species that were native to Belize in Central America, and nowhere else. Their numbers had diminished over the last few decades, but still, they were there. So I made a decision. I would fly to Belize, and get a parrot for my aunt. While I worried about the dangerous possibilities concerning a bird being flown in some storage bin of an airplane, and knowing that no airline would let me purchase a seat for one, I still had to do it. I was on a quest, and I would not be denied an opportunity to get a bird for my aunt.

           When the plane was landing, and later when I was driving my rental car to the hotel, I saw plenty of parrots in and flying between the trees. They looked very much like the parrots did that I had seen in movies I had watched as a child, such as Treasure Island, with Long John Silver having his parrot “Captain Flint” on his right shoulder. Or like Robinson Crusoe’s pet parrot Poll, whom he hadn’t seen for two years of their both being stranded on the desert island – Poll being his only company until Crusoe encountered his man Friday. That connection shouldn’t be surprising, as Belize was formerly British Honduras, so pirates coming home from Central America to Britain would be bringing with them parrots of the sort they found on that British possession, parrots like Schyler.  I felt confident in my chances. I was very glad that the official language of Belize was still English, as I did not want to test out what I had learned in the course on Spanish I had taken in my first year university. I had passed the course, but it was the written not the spoken part that enabled me to do that.

           I asked around concerning getting a Schyler-type parrot.  After several times asking people what I was looking for, I did not get a positive response. What’s more, some of them looked at me with dark suspicion, like I was asking to buy some illicit drug. I would after two days find out why I received such a reply. Apparently, this kind of parrot was sufficiently endangered that it had become illegal to buy or sell one. I thought that I might get arrested for trying to fly one out of the country. I had failed. There was nothing legal that I could do.  I had to go back home parrotless.

Back Home

           I was not happy when I arrived home. It was a good thing that I had only made a promise to myself, and not to my aunt. The next day I visited her. The first words that she said to me made me sad. 

           “Jim, would you take Schyler’s cage back to the place where I got it?  I can’t stand seeing it without a parrot in it.”

           Well at least I could do that much, really that little, for her. I agreed, and after a short and mostly silent chat over tea (I could not talk to her about my recent trip to Belize), I picked up the cage, put it in my car, and drove away to Peter’s Pet Store.

           I thought it wise not to come in right away with the cage, just in case it would be rejected, so I went in to ask the owner whether he would accept it. When he first saw me there was a wide smile on his face. When I approached him, his took my arm and led me to the back room, saying to me, “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

           Very soon I saw what that amazing surprise was – a Schyler-like parrot.

           “It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “A few days after you asked whether I had such a bird, I was approached by someone who wanted to get rid of his recently deceased grandmother’s bird.  Here he is. What do you think?”

           “I’ll take it,” I said, rather foolishly saying, “I don’t care what the price is.”

He then set a very reasonable price. He asked me whether I wanted a carrier cage to take him home in. I replied saying, “No worries. I have a cage in the car.” He gave me a questioning look, but said nothing.

Arriving at My Aunt’s Place

           I arrived at my aunt’s place, knocked on her door, with one hand while carrying the bird and cage in the other. When she saw the three of us, nephew, parrot and cage, she stepped back slightly, clearly not knowing what to say.

           Being for a long time something of a smarty pants, I said to her, “He wouldn’t accept the cage, but he offered me a bird to put in it. What do you think?”

           A big hug ensued, my aunt careful not to disturb my grip on the cage. I brought the cage over to its familiar place. Before I had time to ask her what she might call it, she said “I’m going to name him Jim, after my favourite nephew.”

November 22, 2022 12:03

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Wendy Kaminski
15:56 Nov 29, 2022

Sweet and what a great twist at the end! :)


John Steckley
21:26 Nov 29, 2022

Thanks. I appreciate your comments.


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Starry Skies
15:15 Dec 08, 2022

This is wonderful! It is a cute story about love and loyalty towards your family. Just some feedback, I noticed that the story stated that they spoke Spanish in Brazil, not Portuguese. It might be good to fix that, but otherwise I loved this story! I love the idea of someone going to such great lengths to help their aunt through a tough time. Wonderful job!


John Steckley
19:16 Dec 08, 2022

I had a great aunt who never married, and had a series of budgies called 'Richard'. I didn't write about Brazil, but Belize. The words are similar to each other, an easy mistake to make.


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