Too cocky by half

By Maria Quinn

(A highly commended entry in the Eastern Writers Group Biggest Little Short Story Competition 2007)

“After you get what you want, you don’t want it,” go the words to the song. There must be some truth in them given that, after spending years doing up one house, most of us move to another.

Unfortunately this migratory pattern can become habitual and, for serious cases of the virus renovati repeatus, there are only three known treatments – divorce from the prime mover, bankruptcy and buying a cockatoo. Of the three, the last is the most reliable. (Trust me, 1 speak from expérience.) Cockatoos live to a grand old age, and. there are particular advantages to their longevity for those fighting this dreaded disease.

If you do go broke before completing the treatment you will still have something to leave your children because the cocky will outlive you. Even if divorce ensues, you can look forward to some companionship in your old age, albeit that the conversation may be somewhat limited. “Well bowled, Warnie” could also be less relevant thirty years on.

But the ultimate cure relies on the greatest attribute of these clever creatures. A single beady-eyed cockatoo can reduce a team of strapping great moving men to weak-kneed troglodytes in the time it takes to say, “the cage is too big for the car it will have to go in the truck”.

Though unfazed by three flights of stairs and a baby grand, the prospect of naked fingers within reach of a formidable beak certainly proves too daunting for the otherwise stalwart crew, set to transport our worldly goods to yet another house “with potential.” Faced with the compromise of “ but we’Il put the cage in ourselves – and get it out” a Pontius Pilate stance is conceded and “The Major “ ( a pink cockatoo with a twisted sense of humour) is dragged, still in residence, up the shaky ramp and deposited in the removal van .

Clinging half way up the tall cage, our raucous friend thrusts out his colourful chest, tosses back his head and proceeds to spin it 360 degrees at a rate of knots, while screeching expletives that would bring tears to the eyes of Quentin Tarantino. When the roller door closes, the sound reverberates off the corrugations , doubling its impact and creating the distinct impression of mass murder in progress.

Apparently the calls started coming in by the first set of lights and by the time they’d reached the Highway the Police Rescue blockade was in place. The hole the emergency services cut in the roof, despite the protests of the ashen-faced driver, revealed the irate culprit who, faced with the consequences of his misdemeanours, loudly demanded, “Salute the Major, salute the Major.”

Mind you, we feel the fine for creating a public nuisance is somewhat steep and still hold to the conviction that the moving company should give us back our beds, even before the quote for the van’s new roof comes in. After all, we need to sort out our new home. This time we’re obviously staying put.