The Parrots of Quetzaltenango
Of course whining does no good and with the personal mantra of strength that got me out of bed through almost four years of military school I chanted, “Ahhhh f…k it,” and swung myself out of the bed’s warmth, onto the cold tile floor and stood bravely at attention while trying not to cry.
We finished packing and like so many other places we left the key in the door and slipped out into a bright morning loaded like infantrymen on their way into battle. Of course, for all the whining, the hike wasn’t so bad except for one heart-stopping moment when Katy almost tripped into traffic. The morning was bright and clear and beautiful and the first few hours of classes slipped by. A donut and coffee from Xelapan bakery made the next hours of class slip by as well. They called our Guatemalan-families-to-be and a nice woman named Dora came and led me a few blocks and installed me in a clean room with good natural light, cheery yellow walls and a somewhat musty bed that was essentially a few blankets laid over a wooden board. There was a mattress but it had the same thickness and consistency as a flak jacket. The pillows were much the same, only thicker. I estimated that one weighed about five pounds and the other around eight. I reminded myself never to throw myself onto the bed as broken bones might result. Dora left me to my own devices and I sat on the edge of the hard bed and was lonely, wondering what Katy was going through in her family, when my door swung silently open. I looked up and when I saw no one there I confess my heart tripped a few beats. Then I looked down and saw the door had been pushed open, not by some phantasm but by a medium sized bright green parrot that was walking across the floor towards me. It cocked its head and gave me a questioning eye.
“Hello parrot,” I said.
“Crrraaaawww,” replied the parrot.
“Ration my rum?”
“Pieces of Eight?”
The parrot walked closer and began chewing the leading edge of my left boot.
“Yardarm? Shiver me timbers? Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles?”
“You and I need to have a talk.”