29 July 2010

A game of life and death

The score has been stable at 1 all for a couple of weeks. Early in the summer season I had been able to intervene in her deadly plan and pull off a point, but she quickly countered and equalized. Since then this deadly game has been fairly quiet with little activity. That was until last night...

I could tell by the noises that she was making that another round of the game was about to start. I was sat at the table, quietly working on a student’s thesis when she came in making those sounds. I jumped up and caught her off guard. I had been ignoring her for much of the evening trying to get the work finished and she wasn't expecting any attention.

I moved quickly and got her by the scruff of the neck, she tried to escape but was too slow. Once I had her, she relaxed and didn't fight me, she has speed and I have strength, normally its an even match, but this time I was quicker. I carefully extracted the bird from her jaws.

It was a small grey tit. It did not move and I thought at first it was dead, but then it shuddered. It's head was twisted around through 180 degrees and even though it was still alive, I assumed it was not long for the World. She ran around, anxiously trying to figure where her hapless pray and suddenly disappeared to. I tried to ignore her.

I decided that the bird was probably too far gone and I headed outside to finish it off with a spade. I awkwardly slide open the patio door, with the bird cradled in one hand and the cat frantically running around my feet, stepped out into the cool night air. Once outside the bird, perhaps predicting its coming demise started to come back to life. Its head was still at a strange angle but it started to struggle and even tried to fly. I decided that maybe it wasn't beyond hope and took it back inside.

I found an old wooden wine cask, still packed with balls of newspaper. I positioned the bird comfortably in the corner, added a shallow bowl of water and some dried fruit. All the time it just watched me, while I made it a temporary home. Did it know it was safe or was it just a hapless spectator to the game. I put the lid on the box and headed to bed figuring that I would check it in the morning. I wrote a note to myself saying BIRD in big red letters and left it on the table, so I wouldn't forget in the morning.

Next morning, I did forget, at least until I saw the note. Then I eagerly headed to the box and opened it. The bird was peacefully asleep but woke up and immediately flew out of the box. I was ecstatic, another victory in the battle for the lives of the small animals in my garden. My joy at seeing my patient recover was quickly over come by the reality that I now had a small bird to catch in my living room and I was, as always already late for work.

The problem was solved by a large bang as the hapless bird hit the window hard and dropped to the floor where it lay motionless. Bugger! Maybe I had added the point to my score too early. I picked it up and after a few seconds it started to come round. It was only stunned. Happy that she was not around, I took it outside where it tried to fly but went in a circle and crashed again. Maybe it was injured beyond my meager abilities. Bugger!

I was late for work so I decided that there was nothing to be lost by a few more hours in the box so I picked it up and put it back in its temporary home before heading to work.

When I got back in the evening I was more prepared. I checked that she was not around and took the box outside on to the terrace where I carefully opened it. The bird immediately looked around and then seeing an escape, quickly flew off. This time the flight was straight and true with no windows to hit. Now I could celebrate, I felt good, I had another small victory and what's more I was back in the lead. The score was now 2-1! Yes!

I packed up the box, and threw out some of the bird stained newspaper. I walked around the corner to the bin to dispose of the paper when I spotted it, there in the middle of the path was a dead mouse. Laid out, carefully positioned in the very centre of my way. No doubt how it got there or where it had come from. The score was again level, at 2-2.

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