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One-Legged Blackbird Loses His Breakfast

Allen Butler

The world was still. A cool morning breeze wafted silently across the grass. In the distance faint sounds of traffic could just barely be heard, a reminder that life still moved on. But here, in this sleepy little corner early in the Texas morning nothing moved.

Then a rustle. Faint, and small, the slightest of movements. A cricket, up at dawn moving forward through the grass. Triumphantly it emerged from the thick green onto the lonely patch of concrete.

Where to now? The cricket had given no thought to that. It gave little thought to anything it did. Lazily it made its way to the center of the concrete square, lying here in the middle of the grass for God knows why, and stopped.

In hindsight, were the cricket one given to reflection, this was most likely a mistake.

Not far away from this lonely patch of concrete stood a tree. Actually there were many trees, but only one of import to the story at hand. As it so happened at this time a single blackbird sat in the tree, balancing as it always did somewhat precariously upon a single foot. The bird did this not as part of some yogic stance or other such thing but rather out of necessity. It had, as it had for as long as it could remember, only one foot. In fact there was not even a second leg for a second foot to attach to. Unfortunately the bird’s memory did not go back that far, so whether it had been born with only one leg or whether the second had been lost at some point in its life no one knew.

As was custom for this time of day the bird was hungry and considering the possibility of searching for food. It was at this moment that it happened to notice the cricket sitting so appetizingly in the center of the concrete patch, as if it were just waiting for him to come and eat it.

The blackbird quickly swooped down from its perch, aiming for the dead center of the concrete. The cricket realized only too late that its life was in mortal danger and made a feeble attempt to jump out of the way. It did little good. As his muscles pushed off, he felt his leg clenched in the beak of the blackbird.

If there was anything which could save the cricket at this point it was that simple law of nature: something larger does not fit into something smaller. Fortunately for the cricket, it was larger than the bird could fit in its beak at any one time. Its leg was caught in that long beak, but the bird was having trouble ripping it from the rest of its shell.

Flailing wildly, the cricket finally knocked itself loose from the bird and fell the short drop back to the concrete slab. Injured, it mustered everything it could to hop away but misjudged its own strength and barely moved forward at all. Discombobulated, it tried again to hop away, but found itself running only in tiny circles.

Growing angry, the blackbird continued pecking at the insect, trying once again to trap it in its beak while at the same time hopping wildly trying to maintain its balance on its single leg.

With some effort and a great amount of luck the bird found the cricket’s leg once again in its beak. Gripping desperately this time it tried to swallow the beast. With a crunch the beak snapped through the exoskeleton, breaking the leg off from the thorax. The cricket scurried as quickly as it could back into the safety of the grass as the blackbird tried to swallow the leg whole. Unfortunately it did not want to go down – he ended up spitting it back onto the ground. His head bobbed as he searched for the cricket but all sign of him was gone.

Now, at least, he had two legs, but that was of little consolation. He had no breakfast, and would have to look anew. Perhaps this time he would search for something smaller. He leapt into the air, dark wings shining in the sunlight as the city around him began to come to life.

June 4, 2013 11:09 am

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