The flapping of wings I could hear from the kitchen, and I thought it must be a bird in distress.
But it wasn’t it was the three strangers* standing in my back yard, the gesticulator doing all the flapping, the other two were focused on a nearby tree where a flock of black cockatoos had settled and were doing what they do best, making a lot of noise.
The birds obviously intrigued them as they were totally engaged in their observation. I took the opportunity to go out and explain to them what the birds were and that they were flock birds who lived mostly out in the bush and who in my opinion had two sounds, loud and louder.
The note taker stopped when I said that last part and looked at me as I smiled at her well aware of the joke I had made.
I was well aware by now that they were not imbued with a sense of humour, at least not one I could comprehend.
The one who constantly gesticulated stopped and turned to me as if wanting further explanation. All I could offer there and then was that the birds lived in their world and we in ours.
They turned back to continue their observations.
There was silence apart from the persistent squawking of the cockatoos until the one with a whistle blew it and the birds were silent. As one the flock looked down on the three strangers, and as one they stretched their magnificent wings and flapped in unison before settling back onto their respective branches and picked up their conversations where they had left off.
The three strangers looked at one another and then at me. The note taker smiled radiantly at me and left me with the feeling all was right in the world.
- Earlier stories The Strangers can be found here: