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Fantasy Funny

“You’ve got to spring us, man…You’ve got to spring us …”

Jake looked up from his cleaning. “What?”

“You heard me. Your boss is trying to kill us.” It was the parrot talking.

Jake took this in. For what he knew of Loomer, this smelled true.

“How do you know this?”

“You are the first human to come back here… for a long time.”

The canary chimed in. “Forgotten…”

The parrot continued, “I’m Senor Sur. But you can call me Sur. The far cage holds Keets…”

The parakeet looked up. “Nyuk, nyuk…”

 “…and Harry Canary.”

Harry spoke up, “I prefer ‘Harry the Canary’.”

“Harry… Richard the Lionhearted you’re not. Not even Eric the Red. Stick with what works.”

“So, why Harry then? Why not Furry? Or Feathery? Or Leathery?”

Jake nodded. “Glad to meet you. And them?”

“The love birds stick to themselves. Never knew their names. They’re all about the love.”

“So you know. Just because I sing, I ain’t no snitch.”

“Enough Harry… always in denial. Beautiful voice though.”

The sad little pet department stood in the quiet, back corner by the cleaning supplies and tools. It included a small selection of birdseed, toys and the few cages with a handful of half-starved birds. Had anyone ever cleaned the cages?

Jake changed the cage liners and provided them with fresh water and food. Their moods lifted considerably. A chorus of happy twittering rose from the back of the store.

“Thanks, man. We never got this attention since we got in stir.”

They went quiet. Jake saw Loomer approach. He stood over Jake.

“Are you high?”

Jake looked up at him. “Mr. Loomer?”

“Who authorized you to work back here?”

“I’m caught up with my daily assignments, Mr. Loomer.”

“That’s not what I asked you, Jake.”

“They needed attention, Mr. Loomer…”

Loomer stared Jake down. He pronounced each word distinctly. “Who authorized you?”

“The birds, Sir.”

“I’m phasing this department out. The birds don’t matter. Find other things to do.”

“Yes, Sir.” Loomer turned away.

Loomer’s toupee always looked askew to Jake. He suspected Loomer thought it made him look rakish. To Jake, it looked like a baby raccoon had nested atop his head. But Loomer was the boss.

Jake knew by the end of his first week how much he hated his first summer job. Could he be so incompetent, he’d be fired at fifteen? Jake had an innate talent for evading the apparently omniscient gaze of Mr. Loomer. Most of the time.

This store, the latest permutation of ‘one-stop shopping,’ at ‘everyday prices,’ sold everything from push pins to inflatable furniture. Toys, tires, and trinkets in no particular order. The garish décor screamed for happy customers. But where were the customers?

Jake’s job, maintaining orderly aisles for shoppers didn’t seem so difficult. How the displays became disordered with no one in the store puzzled Jake.

Cleaning the restrooms presented his biggest challenge. Who knew people were so filthy? He suspected a secret competition for who could most thoroughly trash their restroom. To date, the female contestants were far ahead.

Stepping it up, someone had started decorating the men’s room with graffiti.

About to enter the men’s room, Jake saw a kid from his school exit. As the door lazily closed, Jake could see fresh, red graffiti on the walls and mirror. The same color as the Sharpie sticking out of the kid’s pocket.

“Hey, Noodle! You can’t use this restroom anymore.”

The kid turned on Jake. He was big. “Why not? And it’s pronounced ‘Noidle,’ idiot.”

“You’re writing on the walls. Go play with your pen someplace else.”

Mr. Loomer stepped into the corridor leading to the restrooms. “What’s the problem, guys?”

“Hi, Mr. Loomer. This punk says I can’t use your restroom anymore.”

“Are you chasing customers away, Jake?”

“He vandalized the men’s room, Mr. Loomer.”

“Hmmm…” Mr. Loomer looked at the boys. “Where did you buy that pen in your pocket?”

“Here, Sir.”

“Did you write on the restroom walls?”

“No, sir. I wouldn’t do that.”

“I see. You may go.”

The kid snickered and left Mr. Loomer to confront Jake.

“I hope I don’t have to explain what’s wrong here, Jake.”

“But…”

“You can’t be chasing our customers away. That’s no way to stay in business. And it’s no way to keep your job.”

Jake shut his eyes.

“I’ll try to remember that, Mr. Loomer.”

“Now get back to work.”

Jake made a beeline to the pet department. He took a shopping cart with him.

He loaded the cages into the cart and pushed it into the back loading area.

Jake raised the gate to the loading dock. Street sounds and fresh air flowed into the building. The anxious birds fluttered. The gate motor made more noise than he remembered. Jake had to work fast.

Jake put the cages onto the concrete floor and opened each little door.

Sur led the way. “Onward and upward! Follow me!” He flew to a nearby tree and yelled encouragement.

The love birds walked out and stood on the edge of the dock. One hovered over the other and then the two of them flew off together.

Keets took a few steps, said “Nyuk, nyuk,” and flew out of sight. But Harry seemed confused. He hopped out of his cage and walked in circles.

“I don’t know,” he chirped. “Where do I go?” Harry flew to the opening but then veered back into the darkness of the warehouse. He landed on a stack of boxes.

Jake urged him on. “Fly, Harry! Flee!”

“Flee, fly, flown…”

Loomer stepped into the docking bay. He carried a badminton racquet.

“I’ve called the police. You are shoplifting.”

“Good. They’ll want to know about your animal abuse.”

Jake waved his hands to startle Harry. Harry took flight but fluttered about. Loomer raised his racquet.

“Nyuk, nyuk…” Keets flew in from behind Loomer and pulled his toupee from his head. “Nyuk, nyuk…”

Loomer swung and missed. Harry flew into the gap and escaped.

Loomer raised the racquet and moved toward Jake. “Get out. You’re fired.”

Jake went to his locker and got his things. He walked out the door.

As he walked, Jake considered where he could get a job. Across the road, an A&W did a brisk business. “Fast food places are always hiring. But not today.”

Jake walked under a tree and heard a familiar voice. “Hey, Jake. I owe you one.” It was Sur.

He smiled up at the old bird. “Forget it, Sur. What are you gonna do now?”

“You know me. I’ll head south. If I can make it across the border…”

“You’ll be alright.”

Sur primed to take flight and then looked at Jake.

“If you ever make it down to Mexico…”

“I’ll look you up.”

Sur squawked and flew off.  







March 13, 2020 20:54

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2 comments

Felicity Edwards
12:37 Mar 20, 2020

An interesting story loved all the dialogue. You could use that to give the characters a bit more depth though. Well done

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23:40 Mar 20, 2020

I liked the idea of the birds talking to Jake. Loomer was a pretty great character though. I'd have liked to see him get more of a comeuppance for neglecting the animals, and maybe a little more insight into what Jake thought about the birds.

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