The Parrots -- Part 1
Mrs. B. was a strange creature. Her green and yellow parrots haunted her conservatory with the royal attire of their plumage and their savage voices, much like the adorned kings of an ancient civilization whose language is lost to the modern world.
She swung from Emily to Brian and then to Andrew -- as they were named -- in an ecstasy.
When somebody visited her, she would look at them with a strange gleam in her eye, put them to the test by saying "Aren't they wonderful?" She would then lead them straight to her minions, as if to say that whoever wanted to come near herself should deal with her parrots first.
I had met her at an AA meeting group and her nodding head had lured me into conversation: she also drank white wine in the evenings to unwind when, after a day of caring for her patients in a nursing home, she felt too lonely. She also had nobody to talk to -- that is except for her parrots, but I did not know about them yet. Therefore, I swallowed my fear of women in a breath and suggested we should have a drink... ehm... a chat. At that, she propped her head straight against her right hand and with a strange shrill voice she said: "You should come to visit one of these days."
A few afternoons later I stood in front of her door with a bunch of red carnations in my hand, trying to divine what was going on inside, wishing I had never had the idea in the first place, for I hadn't dated a woman for years. Besides, she was, beyond any doubt, at least six or seven years my elder. So I rang the bell once and was ready to give up, when, after a while, I saw her blond head and white ghoulish arms stretch out of the window at the top floor.
She came quickly to the door, smelled the flowers and welcomed me in.
Her living room was large and clean, the walls were a creamy colour and the curtains were of deep purple velvet. Outside it was almost evening. She drew the curtains.
We sat on her leather sofa and soon she said in a low, hypnotic way, she wanted to show me something. Anxiety made the hair stand on my arms, but I hid it well, till she opened the conservatory door and gestured at me. Once inside, she closed the door with a click and I stood still, sweat running at the back of my neck.
Parrots, like coloured devils, shrieked and spoke at turns, mocking me with their resounding "Who are you? Where do you come from?" They fluttered their wings and coda-like tails. "Weren't they wonderful" was my hostess's laughing remark.
They spun all around, infernal tropical dervishes. Their feathers made a whirlwind of colours.
As I stood dumbstruck, Mrs. B. observed me from the corner of her eye. I grimaced an acknowledging smile. Had I passed her test?
TO BE CONTINUED...
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