Got the call about half eleven, bloody landline, nothing that could be done about it. She used it intentionally I reckon. She wanted me to come over, didn’t say why. Sounded well pissed off and demanded it be now, obviously. You know what they’re like when they’re demanding, you better do as you’re told or they’ll hold it against ya. In the end I laid in bed another half hour, I mean why be hard on yourself?
Especially as it was a bank holiday Monday, rare day off, and it was bloody roasting out, for early May anyway. Ran into Jimmy Reeves, well, he was on the other side of the street, you know? He used to be the janitor at our school. His wife left him for another woman, he started drinking, groped one of the teachers, got sacked for it. Now he just drinks. See him around, random like, from time to time round the way, looking and smelling like a fucking tramp. He always shouts ‘I think, therefore I am’. Rickie, who lives next door , retired copper, said to me ‘don’t you have to exist before you think?’ I suppose that’s right, but I dunno, who’s arsed what it means? The joke’s gone round our bit now, that in Jimmy’s case shouldn’t it be ‘I drink, therefore I am?’
Got there and got grief for being late, knew I would. Don’t care, what bothered me was I nearly broke sweat. Only fat people should sweat. Always feel grubby when I do, hate when I shower then sweat not long after, thankfully not this time. Turns out the reason I was called over was Anna was taking her Nan to the quack for a scan or somethink. Says she mentioned it to me last week. But why would I remember that? Anyway she wants me to look after the place for a few hours. Her Nan didn’t like the house being empty. Anna says it’s been this way since her granddad died ten years back.
Anna’s sister Simone usually does this house minding thing. But she got smashed on Friday night, her mates superglued her arms to her side and all her fingers together. Fuck knows why. She was in so much pain they had to wheel her out on a stretcher into the ambulance to get her to A & E. I tell ya, the pictures uploaded to Twitter and Facebook were fucking priceless. At least it got her out of doing this bollocks. Really don’t like being in old people’s houses. They’re shit, they’re always dark, filled with old fashioned shit like majolica and they smell odd, stale like. This one’s no different. Never understood why old people don’t like bright colours and new stuff. My mate Cammy reckons it’s just them psychologically preparing themselves for death. He’s been coming up with all kinds of stuff like that since he went to Uni and was made to read a lot.
Even worse her Nan owns that fucking parrot. Massive fucking thing, got a weird glare on it, like a psycho, stuck me finger through the cage bars once and it had a right go at me. Anna bought it from this rescued animal place right, looking for a pet to keep Nan company. She claims she was leaning towards somethink fluffy but I reckon she got the parrot cause it was dead colourful. Anyway she claims she was talked into it by the fella at the store. Some new age hippie type, had dreadlocks and all the rest. I reckon they look silly on white people, but yeah, he suggested that all animals have souls right, but some have more than others, and a parrot has more personality than a ferret, which randomly bites people, like that Suarez geezer. Or a gerbil, they’re dead docile, they don’t do fuck all. But when we was at school my mate Tone used to buy loads of them and fire them off the top of his wardrobe into the wall opposite. Yeah, some of them died, but the ones that didn’t were hyper as fuck after.
Anyway that’s how Irene got landed with the parrot. She seems to like it, or so she says. It’s a Macaw type, bright yellow and aqua coloured. She had caged birds before, when her fella Roy was alive, a canary, then a budgie she says. I always thought they was pretty much the same thing but that one just costs more than the other.
Not long in the door and they’re out. After more grief for causing them to be late Anna tells me not to touch anythink and not to eat or drink what’s in the fridge. She gives me that look, that no sex for days look, as she walks Nan to the motor. It always works and all. I offer to carry Nan’s bag out to car. Gotta start somewhere, right? Go back inside to the sitting room, and there it is, in its fucking cage glaring at me, same as when it bit me. I sit down on the sofa and turn on the telly, it’s just standard telly though, no Sky or nuffthink, just terrestrial, with the usual bank holiday type shit; crappy family movies, some black and white stuff, cooking shows and dat.
Play about with the phone for a bit, do some Twitter, fuck all happening, just some political bollocks about terrorism and immigrants, fucking boring all that nonsense. Switch on the telly again, again fuck all. Look outside, it’s clouded ova now. At least I’m not missing much out. Look at the time on the phone, put me hands in me pockets and lay back on the sofa. FUCKING RESULT. Find a stray acid pill in me pocket. Probably from a couple of weekends back. That should get me through the next few hours. Usually when we’re doing acid me and Anna do it together, but, well, there’s only one pill, int there? And she aint here. And I’m bored. That fucking thing’s still staring at me I walk to the kitchen to get a drink to down it with, and then I get an idea. Moments like that are the best, it’s dead exciting to do somethink well naughty, only now and again mind.
So I go to the fridge, fuck knows what they like to eat. There’s some ham, margarine, cheese, a lettuce, beetroot, cream, eggs, cold chicken. Pretty sure a parrot isn’t a bird of prey, so won’t want the chicken. I mean people don’t eat other people, at least ones who aint mental don’t, so why would birds be any different? There’s some fruit on the table, I reckon oranges will do the trick. I check me phone, look up parrot on wiki, yeah, as I thought, they’re into fruit, big time.
Right, so I find a knife and cut one up, then I crush up half the pill and sprinkle it on the orange, I down the other half before I carry the Orange back through to the sitting room carefully, the little cunt’s staring me down as I come back in. I open the cage door quickly, and put the half Orange down with the acid side face up. Little bastard’s still fucking staring at me. I stare back at it, just waiting for it to move and eat. I even point at the Orange, but it just keeps staring at me.
I wait a few minutes and it continues to do nuffthink. Disappointed now, thought it would go for it, perhaps it can smell the difference or somethink? Anyway, fuck it, I’m gonna get off me tits. Probably a stupid idea anyway, acid might not even work on a parrot, I mean their brains are different, int they? I sit back down on the coach and wait for it to take effect…
…I wake up, I hear someone’s voice. Look around, and nobody’s there, everythink is shiny, blinding, like the sun’s hittin it. That voice is still talking, it’s dead posh. Go through to the kitchen, nobody’s there, the fruit’s rolling off the table, I try to catch it but I can’t, go through to the hallway, can barely see in ‘ere, it’s dead bright. That posh geezer is still talking, his voice isn’t as loud though, looks like Anna and her nan aint back yet. Check me phone, but everthink on the screen looks weird, can’t read any of it, go back through to the sitting room and sit down, that posh geezer’s voice is dead loud again. Starting to panic now, is this a bad’un? I lie down on the coach and try to relax, the ceiling is glistening, but that posh bloke is still talking, talking fucking shit I don’t understand. I sit up again and look around. That parrot is still staring at me, but now it’s talking, talking posh.
‘Fuck are you staring at?’
‘Curiosity, clearly. You emboldened my intellect with your fruity concoction. It has given me the power of speech.’
Fucking hell, this parrot’s talking and shit. Mental trip.
‘Who’s a pretty boy then?’ Go on, fucking say it.’
‘Not you, that’s for certain.’
‘Ooohhhh fucking get you mate, you’re a funny little cunt, int ya?’
‘Indeed, and more eloquent.’
I’m having banter with a parrot, I can’t stop laughing, I’m laughing so hard I feel dizzy. I sit back down on the couch. Soon as I stop laughing I get an odd feeling, not cause of the parrot, there’s this odd sensation in me stomach, empty, like I’m hungry or somethink.
‘Are you feeling unwell? Perhaps, my dear boy, you should’ve ingested it with an Orange, an opportunity you were most kind to afford me’.
‘I dunno mate, it aint goin away.’
‘In the kitchen there are Mars bars in the top drawer nearest the door, I’m lead to believe.’
I go and check and there fucking is, I grab a bunch and walk back through.
‘Cheers mate…you want one?
‘No thank you, but I would like you to do something else for me, if you could old chap.’
‘Let me out.’
‘Prosperity, happiness, hope, kindness, many reasons, many of which you and many others fail to consider when dealing with my kind.’
‘Fair enough, but wot will you do? Where will you go, you’re just a fucking parrot, int ya?’
‘That is beside the point. For you, the act of freeing me should be a sufficient fillip for emotional enrichment.’
‘Wait, you saying I’m a wrong’un or somethink?’
‘Yes, very good, and to answer your question, no, not at all. You’ve already shown me generosity that nobody has before, but, from where I perch, improvement, in this instance, need be perpetual and all encompassing.’
‘Fair enough, but wot would you do if I let you out?’
‘Look at me. I am valued as a commodity, but only for my plumage, like a fine vase is for the meticulousness of its design and delicacy of its construction, and like a vase, once procured I am left in stasis, only to be admired whenever it suits the disposition of another. I am a living creature, in fact, I am more than that – I am a sentient being of thought and passion. I am a parrot, this is true, but wrongly ascribed the nature and capability of one simply to reinforce my value to others. I am not a parrot, I am an intellectual. I need stimulation, I need to travel, to visit the Louvre, be engrossed by the architecture of the finest Italian Piazzas. I want to glide in the crispness of the Provence air on a spring morning. I want, I need to be engrossed by the grandeur of operatic performance, eat the finest Haute Cuisine, read Joyce, Paine and Eliot, to mingle with artisans and my own kin, and most of all experience the joy of partaking in discourse that is both engaging as it is unpredictable. Only you can grant me this existence, and only can condemn me to suffer through more years of this torture. Day after woeful day I perch here, imprisoned, while that dreadfully drab woman perpetually watches Jeremy Kyle and Coronation Street. They are an abomination, an act of cruelty against my sensibilities and taste. Recently, she has often relented, talking to me, or rather at me, about her equally drab husband and the trite experiences of her youth. That’s as lucidly verbose as she can be, and it’s agony. I must thank you for the Orange, it acidic vivacity has offered me a true flavour of freedom, but I am still starving.’
‘Fair enough, but how you gonna travel?’
‘If I had eyebrows, I’d raise them, instead, I shall raise these.’
‘Oh, I dunno, you cut out for flying long distances? Look mate, I’ll give ya a fucking Mars bar, but I aint letting you out, Anna will have my bollocks for that.’
‘But you seek ways to retain her attention and affection, yes?’
‘Well, you will have to consider ways and means, above and beyond your current station, of appealing to her, with acts and gestures that carry nuance. People tend to enjoy the idea that others, in this case you, are thinking of ways to make them think about you.’
‘But I buy her shit, work hard to pay for it, give her gifts. I’m always ready to go balls deep when she’s up for it.’
‘Those are tokens of appreciation, for her loyalty, not affection for her spirit and character.’
‘You saying affection is somethink different to all that?’
‘Yes, what you did for me, and what you can do, would be.’
‘Right, okay, but only for you, right?’
‘No, absolutely not. Of course I will benefit, but as a result she will consider your character on a completely new terrain. I confess, in the immediate aftermath, there will be a period of readjustment, she will be flummoxed, but if you explain your reasons for doing so, without going into too much detail, eventually…
‘Christ, that’s them back…’
I run ova to window, the car’s parked in the driveway and Anna’s helping her Nan out of the motor.
‘Quickly, please, I implore you to release me. I may not get another chance.’
I walk over to the cage and open the hatch thingy and the cage door swings open.
‘My eternal thanks and gratitude, now if you could just open the window, I will be free.’
Anna calls me from the front door to come and help.
‘Ignore her and open the window.’
‘If I ignore her she’ll hold it against me.’
‘Yes, but it will seem considerably less antagonistic if it was so you could release me. Remember what I said.’
Nah, you’re a parrot, you’re talking shit I reckon.’
I go and help walk Nan into the hallway. She’s looking well gimpy. Anna looks miffed that I didn’t come immediately and I do my shitty I’m sorry face, you know, as you do when don’t want to have it out in front of someone. We all walk inside the living room together. Nan stops dead. Fuck, the parrot’s out of his cage now, standing on the edge of the couch, looking all bolshie and shit. Nan and Anna look shocked, they both look at me like I’m a stupid twat for letting it out. They look at the parrot again. Nan limps towards it talking to it like you would do a baby or a retard, tellin’ it shit it don’t understand, that she’s gonna put him back in his cage gently and dat. Just as she gets to it the parrot jumps at her chest with its mouth wide open and headbutts the top part of its beak straight through her eye, she collapses to the floor, the parrot flaps its arms, trying to get its beak out, but it’s stuck in her eye-socket. Nan falls forwards on top of the parrot, there’s a nasty crushing sound. Then Anna starts screaming. This is some fucking trip.