A few years back I watched Marcia (Friend #3)'s dog. This was before Friend #3 got her elegantly appointed condo and lived instead in a relatively ghetto condo with her dog, Ricky.
I watched Ricky for a week while Marcia was out of town. Marcia told me everything I needed to know. "Ricky gets a Liva Snap after he takes his Prozac in a gob of organic peanut butter. Ricky is a social eater, he won't eat unless you're in the same room eating dinner too. On his morning walks, Ricky will pee once, then poop once, then pee again. When he picks up a pine cone and starts playing with it that means he's ready to go home, and he'll carry it back and leave it outside the door. Then he'll just pee out back before he goes to bed."
That's why I felt very comfortable looking after Ricky. The first night, though, I took Ricky down to the first level so he could visit the back patio for a whiz. I was shuffling through the dark room while Ricky yipped in excitement.
"Eep" came a noise from the corner.
I let Ricky out and investigated the noise. What could it be? There was the dimly lit bookshelf, the computer, the birdcage, the couch, the -
"Eep," chirped the yellow budgie that Marcia had neglected to mention.
Yes. Neglected to mention. A living creature, a bird creature, that was looking at me as if to say, "I'm a social eater too. I haven't eaten for hours. Plus, I need my Prozac too. I poop five times a day without the help of pine cones. You don't know where my food is. I could die at any moment. I will haunt you if I die on your watch."
I backed away from the bird and called Ricky back in, which only reminded me I didn't know the bird's name. I flicked on the light and saw a bag of bird food on the bookshelf. I grabbed a scoop and poured it generally on the bird's head. I knew if I tried to clean out the bottom that bird would fly off to find Marcia. I turned off the light and said "Bye, uh, bird."
The bird did not say "Eep." I turned the light back on. "Eep," it said.
This is why I never turned the lights on in that room for the rest of the week. I'd let Ricky out each evening, then I'd peer through the dark to see if the bird had joined the choir invisible. Finally, on the last night, I turned on the light.
"Eep," it said.
"Cough," it said.
This completely freaked me out. Not just a bird, but one of those creepy smart-ass mimicking birds. A bird who could later say, "Hey, Marcia, that cow you sent to take care of me tried to drown me in bird seed. And I never got my Prozac."
I met Marcia with, "You have a BIRD."
"Huh? Oh, Chuckie."
"You didn't tell me about the BIRD."
"Yeah, Chuckie. He's just a bird." Like he's furniture. Talking mocking furniture that might die.
When Chuckie died months later (stress, I am sure) Marcia was nice enough to tell me of his passing. I wanted to ask how many days he had been dead before she noticed.