So this would be…. falcon Tuesday? I don’t even know.
Anyway. I am back from my absence and thought an extra story post for this week would be appropriate. So, Lucius gets the spotlight. How did Lucius the falcon join the gang of Blank Mastermind anyway?
Let us find out today, as Lucius takes the spotlight.
Birthday Bird (not my best title, i know. i’m low on sleep, guys.)
The renaissance fair had left that morning. Except for a few lazy vendors still talking as they packed up their wares, the wide field was empty.
Lucius observed from high in the trees. It looked like his owner had been gone for a while, but he’d stayed hidden for longer than necessary, just to make sure.
It was definitely clear now. He was certain.
He was also hungry, and there was a mouse scampering along in the grass below.
Lucius took one last look around at the few people remaining in the area, then spread his wings and swooped down out of his hiding spot, effortlessly grabbing the mouse.
As he sat there and ate, he looked around the field that just a few hours ago had been bustling with people. The grass was still trampled and flat, showing the footmarks of all the people who’d just been there. One of the last vendors was just pulling his car out. There was one lady left, still packing her things away and smoothing her poofy skirts while she talked to a tall man.
Oddly enough, he wasn’t dressed like everyone else had been. No tunic or sword or chainmail. Just a rumpled suit and tie with a fedora and sunglasses.
Curiously, Lucius tipped his head and flapped a little, getting himself closer to the people.
The woman laughed at something and the man with the sunglasses grinned.
“Well then,” he tugged on his tie. “I’ll have to come back next time there’s one of these things then. Got a few friends I could bring too.”
“You certainly do that, News. I’ll try and be here to show you around.” The woman packed a few more things in a box and closed up the top.
Lucius hopped a little closer as he spotted a piece of bread in the grass and pecked as he listened.
“So, I was actually wondering if you could help me with a little something,” the man named News continued, rocking on his feet a little. “Got a friend’s birthday coming up and I’m trying to figure what to get him.”
“What’s he like?”
“Well, he . . .” News pushed his hat back on his head a little. “Ah, he’s . . . had a hard time of it for a while and mainly likes . . . alcohol and blowing stuff up. But I’m really not looking to feed that end of things. Mainly just looking for another hobby he could get into. Something that’d cheer him up, y’know? Any ideas?”
The woman frowned in thought, propping her hands on her hips. “Hmm . . . a . . . maybe a raincheck for doing something fun? Like a weekend with his family?”
“Heh. Not exactly something I could work out without a venture down to Voodoo Dave in Louisiana.”
“A pet, perhaps?” she suggested. “Sometimes pets cheer people up.”
Lucius hopped a bit closer for more leftover food.
News’s eyebrows went up. “Now that . . .” he thought for a second. “Yeahhh, like with all those . . . therapy animals and stuff. That would definitely work. But what . . .?”
The flutter of Lucius’s wings caught his eye and he turned. “Hey whoa, what’s that?”
Lucius looked up and tilted his head, eying News warily.
“Oh!” the lady smiled and came out from among her boxes. “One of the falcons. Lucius. At least I think that’s his name. He must’ve gotten left behind.” She turned back to Bad News for a second. “And if you ask me, a good thing. No one was taking much care of him anyway.”
Going down next to Lucius, she held out one hand and clucked her tongue. “Come on, Lucius. Come here, pretty bird.”
Lucius remembered how the lady had come by the falconry booth a couple of times. She was nice. He hopped over, rubbing his head against her palm a little.
News watched thoughtfully. “And . . . people do falcons as pets, right?”
The lady nodded and Bad News stepped over, crouching down. He still towered over her.
“And whaddya think are the chances they’ll come back for him?”
“Practically nothing. They have other birds and were talking about letting a few go anyway. At this point the poor thing’s probably not worth the trouble.” She brushed at Lucius’s feathers again.
News reached out his hands and Lucius eyed it for a second.
“C’mon,” News clicked his tongue and wiggled his fingers a little. “C’mon, birdie. I have somewhere you might be able to stay.”
Lucius came slowly closer, then hopped onto Bad News’s sleeve.
News straightened up, a grin spreading across his face as he nodded. “I think a pet will do the trick.”
Lucius peered through the bars of his cage out the window of Bad News’s truck.
The buildings got further and further apart as they got further to the edge of town. Lucius watched the trees for a few seconds, then shifted his stance on the brassy bottom of the cage, his talons clicking.
News glanced over at the birdcage in his passenger seat and shook his head a little, grinning. “Of all the things to eat. Frozen rats, huh?”
Lucius tilted his head.
News shrugged. “Well. Wouldn’t be my top choice, but whatever floats your boat.” He turned the steering wheel, turning the truck into the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store. The truck’s motor quieted to a low rumble as he drove it back behind the store.
Lucius’s cage jolted a little with the motion as News put the car into park and he flapped, squawking indignantly.
Bad News didn’t seem to notice the outcry, pulling the keys from the ignition. He elbowed Lucius’s cage like he was sharing a joke. “We just gotta keep you outta sight until tomorrow. Just hang tight here for a sec, I’ll be right back.” Popping the car door open, he stepped out, straightened his coat and strode to the back entrance to the grocery store.
Lucius didn’t appreciate the cage-elbowing and watched News’s retreating form with disapproval as he smoothed his feathers.
A grocery store? Was this supposed to be the place he was going to stay?
He turned in his cage, looking around more and peeking through what he could of the window. At least they were backed against the forest. He’d probably have plenty of food if he decided to escape again.
A minute passed before News emerged from the store again, a person with blond, spiky hair walking beside him. They walked up and opened the passenger side door.
Lucius ignored News’s grand gesture to his cage, preening his feathers.
“Well Roy, whaddya think?” News pushed his hat back a little.
Roy stared, his mouth hanging a little open and the toothpick he’d been chewing dangling between his teeth. “Is that . . . an eagle?”
“It’s a falcon, you dumb bunny.”
Roy climbed up on the truck’s running board and leaned closer to Lucius’s cage, his eyes wide as he looked the bird up and down. “So you got Wolf a . . . falcon for his birthday?”
“Yup,” News confirmed. “Like those therapy pets, you know. Get him to cheer up a little.”
They both quietly just looked at Lucius for a minute before Bad News spoke again.
“Did his family ever have any pets?”
Roy scratched the back of his head and squinted. “Well . . . a dog and a cat. I dunno, man, I don’t remember their names. But the cat was black and it scratched Wolf up when he was younger, so . . .” he shrugged. “Just glad you didn’t get him a cat.”
News nodded and reached in to take out the cage. “Did they ever have a bird?”
“Nah. Miss Rachel liked ‘em though.” Roy stuck his hands in his pockets and watched as Lucius fluttered his wings to keep his balance at the movement of his cage. “That might work for you.”
“Awesome.” News grinned. “This should work then. Help me find a hiding spot for him ‘til tomorrow?”
Roy grinned back and started walking backwards towards the door, his red sneakers scuffing on the pavement. “I know just the spot.”
They’d just had lunch. Liza, Chris and Wolfgang were all just sitting at the counter, talking. And the cake and coffee ice cream News had planned for the occasion were all ready to go.
No strikes on the schedule today and Wolfgang was looking . . . well, only slightly more irritable than usual.
Looked like everything was in place.
Bad News motioned subtly to Roy and Cardboard, nodding towards the back room in the kitchen.
They both got up and the threesome slipped away with only one mildly suspicious glance from Liza.
Lucius’s cage still sat in the corner where they’d left it, half covered by an old burlap sack labeled “pinto beans”.
Cardboard scampered over next to Lucius’s cage and peeked underneath the cloth, quickly covering her mouth to muffle a squeak of delight. Roy shushed her.
“Great, isn’t it, Cardy?” Roy grinned, keeping his voice low. “Shh. We’re gonna give him to Wolf for a present.”
Cardboard bounced, still covering her mouth. Her eyes sparkled, crinkling at the edges happily.
News shushed both of them. “Here, Cardboard, you take the ice cream. Roy, here’s the cake. I’ll take the birdcage and light the candle on the way out.” He handed out the assigned items and picked up the handle of the birdcage, closing the sack over the outside so Lucius wasn’t visible.
Roy and News looked between each other, as if to steel themselves for whatever was coming. News smiled reassuringly and shrugged.
“He’ll love it, okay? Let’s go.”
They came to the door and stopped as News propped it open with his foot.
He hummed for a second under his breath, then looked over at Roy and Cardboard. “You two can sing, right?”
Roy nodded and Cardboard chirped out an affirmative.
“Cool. So, birthday song at my cue.” Bad News pulled a lighter from his pocket with his free hand and lit the wick on the tiny candle he’d poked into the chocolate cake. He quickly shoved the lighter back in his pocket, nodded, and pushed open the door.
They came around the corner and he gave the starting note. “Haaaappy birthday to you . . .”
Roy and Cardboard joined in, heartily raising their voices as they marched towards the counter. News’s deep voice, Roy’s medium pitch and Cardboard’s high, small voice, all from different octaves, blended perfectly together.
Wolfgang, Chris and Liza all looked up, eyes going wide. Wolfgang’s mouth fell slightly open.
“Happy biiiirthday, dear Wolfgang . . .” Roy set the cake on the counter in front of his friend with a flourish and stepped back with a bow. “Happy birthday toooooo youuuuu.”
Liza muffled a snicker and leaned back in her seat. A grin pulled her mouth sideways. “Well, I had no idea, Wolfy . . .”
“A birthday cake?” mouthed Chris in disgust, raising his eyebrows at News.
Wolfgang just stared incredulously at the candle for a few seconds, working his jaw like he couldn’t even think of the words for this ridiculous birthday celebration.
Silence for a second.
“Blow it out!” prompted Cardboard, curling her fingers along the edge of the counter to peek over at Wolfgang.
“Yeah, bro. It’s gonna drip on the frosting. C’mon.” Roy gestured towards the candle.
“I . . . I . . .” Wolfgang stammered, looking up. “Guys, seriously?” The air from his last word flickered the flame out on the candle. “We’re . . . trying to kill someone, not remember everyone’s birthdays here.”
Roy’s smile faltered a little. News’s stayed in place, wider than ever as he stepped forward.
“Everybody’s got a birthday, bucko. And we’re not celebrating unbirthdays, so that’s what we’re left with around here. Another excuse for cake. Besides . . .” he plunked the cage down in front of Wolfgang. “We got you a present.”
A muffled squawk came from inside the cage at the jolt. All three at the counter jumped back a little.
With a grand gesture, Bad News swooshed the bean-sack off the top of the metal cage.
Lucius ruffled his feathers and blinked in the sudden light, turning to stare at Wolfgang. Wolfgang stared back, his face blank with disbelief.
“A . . . hawk?” asked Liza.
“Falcon,” corrected News. “Meet Lucius. Fully trained. Really mellow, and a great little guy. Picked him up the other day. He’s all yours, Wolf.”
Of all the birthday presents.
Wolfgang swore quietly. Roy glanced over at Bad News doubtfully.
Then Wolfgang started to laugh. And not the dry, humorless laugh they’d all become used to. He was actually laughing.
“You . . . got me a bird?”
“Sure did,” News confirmed.
“And some food for him, ‘til we can figure out the whole hunting thing,” Roy added, his smile lifting a little at Wolfgang’s reaction. “Here, and he’s perfectly friendly, see?” He reached over and opened the side of the cage to let Lucius out.
Lucius hopped out onto the counter, his talons clicking. Tilting his head, he took another look at Wolfgang’s jacket. It looked very much like the material that made falconry gloves to him. The stuff he was supposed to land on.
Well, if he was to stay here and they’d just given him to this person, the next move was obvious.
He hesitated only a second before hopping up onto Wolfgang’s shoulder.
Wolfgang jumped in surprise, almost falling off his seat. Lucius wobbled, but kept his perch. He chirruped in the back of his throat as he looked sideways at Wolfgang.
The two watched each other for another second.
“Lucius, huh?” Wolfgang brushed his fingers on the side of the falcon’s wing.
Chris groaned. “Don’t tell me we’re keeping a bird now.”
“Oh come on,” Liza shoved at Chris’s arm. “We could use him for surveillance or something.”
Roy held his breath and News raised his eyebrows as they waited for the verdict.
Wolfgang unsuccessfully bit back another partial grin and dropped his hand back down to the counter. He shrugged with the shoulder Lucius wasn’t on. “Whatever. He can stay.”
Also two collages and a song.
In…. the reverse order that I mentioned them.
This was made for Lucius a while ago and I dug it up for the occasion.
And I made this one specifically for the story so yay. ❤
Well, hope you’re all having a good Tuesday, and I’ll see you all again on Thursday with more stories. ❤
(also stay tuned because I’m working on some actual -gasp- writing advice posts for Sundays so we’ll see how that works out.)
Happy trails, folks,