The Joker

“Daaaaadaaaa,” calls the three year old over a barely repressed giggle, “it’s baaaaack.”

He’s spotted the pheasant again. That used to be reward enough for him, but now he’s grown to expect a show too – the Keystone Kops routine of his father trying to snap a half-decent photo. I’m pretty sure he’s rooting for the bird at this point.

That damn bird. I’ve always disliked the use of adversarial language by hunters, but I’m ready to make an exception.To paraphrase Chris Rock, “I’m not saying it’s right… but I understand.”   And I’m not even trying to shoot him. I know I should enjoy his periodic appearances, and appreciate simply watching him from afar. Heck my mother, avid birder that she was, would have gladly traded one of her kids for a ring neck that frequented the backyard. But I can’t. He is the Roadrunner to my Coyote. He’s made it personal. He’s in my head.

“Uuuuuurk Eiiiiickick”, he calls like a rusty gate from his favorite Russian olive – usually just after I’ve stepped from of the shower or settled in with a scotch and a good book – taunting me.  On days when I don’t hear him, he’ll strut in the yard until he catches the kid’s eye, or appear in my rearview mirror as I head off to work. It doesn’t matter. What happens next is always the same: I go for the camera and he goes for the brush. I’ve tried moving faster. I’ve tried going slower. I have staked out likely places and I have crept in bare feet and bathrobe around the garage, through the neighbor’s yard and across the creek to sneak up from behind him. At best I catch a blurry hint of tail-feathers as he trots into the brambles. The joke is on me… again and I imagine the goofy bastard delivering the same old punch-line.

“I Was Run-Ning!” he says in his best Forest Gump impression, cackling all the while. In my head, I hear him saying it.

“Keep an eye on him,” I call to my son “and let me know if he moves.” Then, like Charlie Brown headed for Lucy’s football, I slink out the backdoor.

“Dada, Dada!” greets E when I return. “He … he… the pheasant um….. Dada it flew away… cause see!” It takes him a solid minute to deliver this recap through his belly laughter and tears.

A tight jawed “Yep,” is all I can confidently manage without betraying my frustration en route to the bourbon.

Mark my words bird. I will get my picture, either in the yard, or on the plate.

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