By Jay Tanji
It had been three weeks since the Parodaffolin made its nest in the Gilsey’s home. On top of the open awning in the center courtyard, the swan-like bird showed no signs of leaving. George hadn’t given the bird much thought, but it was all his wife could think of.
The central courtyard of their Spanish Colonial home usually provided Sausa with a quiet escape to nature without having to leave the house. Her garden on the ground floor was florally designed to her own exquisite tastes of fire lilies and azurils, lining a short walkway around a small, free-flowing pond of three levels. But her afternoon zen garden had been ruined since the bird’s arrival. Perched on top of the awning, the feathered beast seemed to soak up all the sun’s rays that usually shown down on the garden, stealing their luminous waves of life. And at even the slightest approach to attend her plants, the bird gave an abrasive squawk and solidified itself as her nightmarish gargoyle.
To her, the bird seemed all but inescapable. Even when on the second level of the house, the daft pelican could be seen from every room. Its beady eyes watched her roam the hallways enclosing the courtyard, noticing every room she entered. The only time it didn’t follow her with its long, twisting neck was when it rinsed itself in the pond on the first level while Sausa took her afternoon nap in the library above. Even at night, the daunting presence of the bird could be felt through the candlelit corridors.
“George, you must get rid of that bird,” Sausa said one evening at dinner. “It’s menacing my garden.”
“Nonsense,” George said. “The bird isn’t causing any harm. Besides, Parodaffolins are a sign of good luck.”
Resentful of her husband’s simple dismissal of her request, she began plotting ways of her own to get rid of the bird. Yet every idea seemed unlikely given the unreachable height of the uninvited nest. One morning, while the bird was washing its feathers in the pond, Sausa decided to approach it. She wasn’t exactly sure of her plan but thought if she could get close enough to grab the long-billed burden, perhaps she could scare it off for good. But her slow, uneasy approach unsettled the Parodaffolin, and when she came within two yards of it, it spread its large white wings and kicked its long padded feet, squawking and hissing in a manner so terrifying it scared Sausa out of the garden for a week.
At last, she decided the bird’s unwanted nesting time was up. She had settled into an eerie staring contest with it all morning until George had finally gone out. Retreating to the study, she returned armed with George’s hunting rifle. Loaded and cocked, she stood on the second-floor balcony peering down the sight at the unknowing bird sitting quaintly in its nest. Holding her breath, she fired the first shot, narrowly missing its lengthy beak. The Paradaffolin roused its wings and bounced in the air at the loud blast. Sausa quickly re-aimed, the adrenaline of a big game hunt pulsing through her, and sent the next shot through its body. With one last squawk, the flailing bird fell from its nest, dropping into the garden below.
She walked through the garden with the rifle still in hand, a hunter retrieving her kill. The bird lay half strewn in the pond, with its long neck kinked on the lip and its beak open with ballpoint eyes staring out aimlessly.
George came home to find his wife tending to her garden. The Parodaffolin’s body still rested limply on the ground, the flowing pond running red with blood and a pile of white feathers collecting near the water’s edge.
“Sausa, what have you done?” George cried.
“I’ve restored my garden,” Sausa said without looking up from her flowers. Before George could respond, they were interrupted by the crackling of eggs and the first squawks of hatchlings in the nest high above.