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Mercifully, James’ face began to make a crackling sound; his jaw had forced itself unclenched. His mouth resembled a broken ventriloquist’s dummy, forming blocky words as flakes of his skin steadily crumbled to the white carpet. “I’m not dead, neither is my wife, Claudia. We’re alive but we’re preserved. We had our guts removed for science. And now with all the guts and stuff gone, we’ll live forever this way!”
“That’s fine, but can you tell me about your weather vane? The one with the bird on it.” I said, a touch impatiently but I’d waited long enough.
“Always loved birds. My favorite of course is the Napoleonic Crow. Happy little critters that flourish up north, near Alaska. Canadians call them Oddie Birds. I can see why, given their tiny bodies and the queer high-pitched caw they emit when they’re threatened.”
“This was not a crow on your weather vane. This bird was not even of the Corvus genus. Maybe it’s an imaginary bird? One that doesn’t truly exist? I too have imagined birds, so you know you can tell me. It’s safe. You’re among friends.” I’d begun involuntarily tapping my foot and, more voluntarily than not, looking at my watch.
“Claudia takes care of the gardening,” James said, his neck made the sound of a twisted tray of ice cubes, moving his head slightly in the direction of his wife. “Claudia, know anything about that old weather vane?”
A tear slid down Claudia’s cheek.
I got up from my seat, reacquired my things and left slamming the door. Outside I brisked through the garden, aware of the horrible insects I’d earlier ignored while captivated by the old weather vane and its nameless bird.
Even now, thinking of it reminds me why I dislike people so intensely.