The Cardinal

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The Cardinal

Taking a break from writing I stare at the beautiful fake cardinal in front of me. It sits on a big tome in a niche above the TV entertainment center. It is one of my frequent diversionary tactics to avoid putting my mind to work for writing.

Unlike the image above, the cardinal is actually staring at me as well, and it’s getting just a bit weird because I see the lovely guy fluttering, jerking his head around and about, shaking his feathers. He then cocks his head, stares again at me, and suddenly flies over to the arm of my chair.

Now, look, think what you might – ‘the guy in the chair is daffy, losing his freaking mind’. That’s okay. That kind of thinking is perfectly legitimate.

However, if you think a stuffed cardinal flying from his niche to the arm of my chair is daffy, get ready for some real craziness.

He starts squeaking to me, and I feel a bit like Mark Twain because I’m understanding his squeaking. Yeah, he’s talking to me…like in, ‘You talking to me’?

He’s asking/squeaking me questions, like, ‘Hey, I got nothing to do all day but watch you type away on that black gadget you got there – laptop, you call it. Occasionally, I see your wife bringing you snacks. It’s okay she doesn’t bring me anything because you – somebody! – made it impossible for me to eat. So, I’m curious. Before I got ‘stuffed’, I flew around a lot, visited many places, and settled here because I like your grounds and your cute but silly chatter to me and my feathered friends. What I’m curious about is, something strange is happening, and I’m not just talking about climate change here – which is likely ‘bunk’. I’m talking about the craziness of your world. Why all the hatred and inane behavior? I mean, it’s filling the air my still-flying friends have to breathe.”

“Is it okay if I just stroke your feathers? You are so beautiful. I’ll be gentle.”

“You’re avoiding my question, but go ahead if it will make you open up to me.”

So, I stroked the little guy’s feathers. “Look,” I say, “there’s nowhere in our history when we’ve been sane. We’ve fought our dumb wars, made our stupid mistakes, and Science/Technology has not come up with a pill or implant or whatever to make up for all of our differences – the language barriers, different intelligent levels, the so-called inequalities between the rich and the poor. We’ve gotten so global. We’re dealing with centuries-old hatreds. We’re coming to a point of no return. Something has to give.”

The little red guy cocks his head, and I almost think he’s squinting. “Hey, man, you’re ruffling my red feathers! Are you talking about Armageddon and the Apocalypse?”

“Well, it just seems to me, unless we can find a way to unite the world for freedom and peace, what can there be but utter destruction and our final days?”

My little Cardinal buddy was shaking, so I stroked softly his feathers again with my forefinger, and said: “Look, my fine red-feathered friend, there is always hope and we don’t give up so easily here in America. It’s one thing for me react, talk about the hatred, the radical Islamic terrorists that do their evil deeds, about the greed for power that drives most of our wanton transgressions, but I still carry faith and hope that the world can get it right.”

“So,” my Cardinal buddy stopped shaking and said, “I’m staying here with you, right? You’re not going to leave me here during these times of trouble to stare at empty space?”

“No, of course not. And, if and when I leave, there will be specific information and instructions left about you with someone as lovable as I. After all, they will need to be prepared for your rather peculiar aptitude.”

“That’s good to know… I’m going back to my perch now – getting a little sleepy. See you when I wake up. And, please, I say this with all the affection in the world for you: finish that darn book and knock off some of those loud expletives. You scare me when you go ‘flying off’ like that.

Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – 5/25/16

I write books of mystery, suspense, romance, memoir, et al. If you would like to preview the thirteen books I’ve written, you can find them on my website:

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