words: Stoney Stamper
It was an unseasonably beautiful day in January in east Texas, and after having been cooped up and bundled up for the last couple of wintery months, my family was excited to see the first spring-like weather of 2015. My wife April was all aflutter around the house, pulling back the curtains, opening windows and letting the fresh air inside. It felt amazing and you could feel the happiness in the air as our daughters ran around and played in the yard, their laughter filling the air.
There is a window above the kitchen sink that slides open from the side, and it doesn’t have a screen. There is a planter box hanging on the outside that April keeps filled with flowers when the weather turns warm for good. It’s also a popular landing spot for birds. But the happy sounds of the kids playing were just too wonderful to pass up. So even though the occasional bird fluttered by the window, we didn’t dare close it.
I decided it might be a good time to do some writing, so I sat down with my laptop and began using this blessed day as an inspiration for some much needed prose and poetry. After a few minutes, our fourteen-year-old daughter Abby came in the house to get something to drink. She sat down at the dining room table to relax for a few minutes, and suddenly she screamed, “A BIRD!” I looked up at her, not fully understanding what she meant. With a confused “Huh?” from me, she screamed again, “A bird is in our house! It just flew into you and mom’s bedroom!” I jumped up from my chair and ran to my bedroom door. Abby and I both tried to sneak a peek through the door to see if we could spy our feathered intruder. After thoroughly looking around the room from the doorway, I gently stepped inside. I tiptoed around, as Abby stood close behind me, nudging me forward. “Stop pushing me!” I whispered to her. By the way we were acting, you’d think that we were in pursuit of an extremely dangerous beast of an animal.
After finding nothing in the bedroom, I started for the door of our master bathroom. I peeked my head inside, but still I could not see him. But then I heard it. A small chirp. Just a tiny little noise from over near the shower. I couldn’t see it, but I knew he was in there. I began to formulate a plan. How could I catch him? First and foremost, I had to keep him in the bathroom, so I closed the door. Then I decided that if I could use a bedsheet as a net, I could sneak in the bathroom, easily throw the sheet over it, then wrap the sheet gently around it and carry it outside.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well that’s how I thought it would go. Alas, sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.
First, all of the sheets were in the bathroom cabinet. That’s where the bird was. I needed to be able to walk in the room prepared, lock, stock and barrel. April had been doing laundry, and having just learned of our situation, said, “Hey, there’s a yellow sheet in the laundry room.” So she got it and brought it back to me. Yes, it was a yellow sheet. A yellow fitted sheet. As we all know, fitted sheets have the capability of ruining your day. They aren’t user friendly. They’re impossible to fold, sometimes even impossible to get put on your bed correctly. So, I just assumed it would be troublesome while performing the act of bird wrangling, as well. The sheet didn’t hang right. I was holding it up to my side, much like a champion matador approaching his fighting bull from across the pen. I inched closer and closer to the shower, yet I still hadn’t seen the bird. Just the occasional chirp let me know I was on the right track. As I came alongside the shower, my fine-feathered friend made his first appearance in our little game of cat and mouse. With the piercing screech that sounded like a red tail hawk, he flew around the corner of the tub at what must’ve been considered Mach 3. I don’t know, I’m kind of winging it there. Could’ve been a Mach 2, I guess. I don’t know Machs very well, but it was going really freaking fast. And he dive-bombed my head.
What happened next comes in small, short memories. I am not certain if I actually suffered a head injury giving me amnesia or if I just sort of blacked out. But here is what I have figured out after some reflection and putting the pieces together from the scene in the bathroom. First, the dive-bomb. Then, a very unmanly scream and slap at the bird, which barely made contact. This slap did, however, upset the bird very much, and he decided to show me just how much he didn’t appreciate it. He then shifted into supersonic gear and began angrily circling me, as fast as he could go, while simultaneously attacking my head. He pecked my hat, and I swatted him away, but at the same time, swatted off my hat. This is the first time I really got a glimpse of this flying mammoth. Judging by his massive wingspan, I am not even sure how he got through the window. He came back for more, and there was now nothing protecting my poor hairless noggin. Again, he found my weakness and was capitalizing on it. His ferocious pterodactyl-like claws made contact with the softness of my scalp, and he was like a lion that has tasted blood. More kamikaze-style flying by the insane bird, and I had yet to have even gotten close to catching the thing. As a matter of fact, I dropped my sheet about halfway through that last attack. The bird landed above the shower, so I stood still for a moment and caught my breath. I was sweating like John Goodman in a corduroy suit.
With my sheet raised, I headed towards the shower again. This time, he waited. I got closer, and closer, and then he dive-bombed my head again, only this time he made solid contact with my ear, and I screamed like Daniel Stern in Home Alone when that kid put a tarantula on Daniel’s face. My fear was high. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a strong 11. It ranked up there with the time my dad found Skoal® in my sock drawer when I was thirteen. The bird zoomed past me again, then hit the mirror, and fell down on the counter. I grabbed my sheet and went in for the kill. But the bird was too fast, and once again, he was breaking sound speed records all up in my bathroom.
I eased up to the counter and he landed behind several cans of April’s hair spray, a candle, and a vase, all these things that could easily be broken with my spazzy and crazy movements while trying to catch this monster. But this had to be done. I dropped the sheet over all of the items on the counter, along with the bird, but SOMEHOW he got out, and somehow I jerked the hairspray and candle and vase onto the bathroom floor. Oh, and then he was flying around the room again, desperately looking for a way out. I was beginning to get desperate myself, so I grabbed my hat and tried to grab him with it when he came by, but with no luck. Finally, after what must’ve been three excruciating hours (ok maybe it was ten minutes) in the torture chamber with this vicious animal, he attempted one last flyby, and I made contact with my cap that I was using like a bat. The bird finally went down. He wasn’t hurt, and he immediately tried to get back up before I dropped the sheet over him. BOOM. I had dominated the biggest, meanest, most fierce bird that east Texas had ever seen. With only my bare hands, and a fitted bed sheet. Eat your heart out, Bear Grylls.
As I carried the sheet-wrapped bird to the backyard, the girls gathered around to see this wild animal I had conquered. I laid the sheet down and began to unfold it. As soon as I pulled the sheet from the top of what surely must have been a massive condor-like bird that I had captured, we all stared down at only a small, brown sparrow. The tiny bird then hopped up, shook off his feathers and then flew away. We stood there staring, and then my ten-year-old daughter Emma said, “Was that the right bird? THAT little ol’ bird made you all sweaty like that?”
Shut your yapper, kid. It looked a whole lot bigger in the house.