I'm staring into the eyes of something I hate and they have absolutely no idea. And they most definitely do not care.
Ugh, but I kind of do.
"You are my problem now," I sigh to the peahen on the other side of the chain link fence.
Birds scare the shit out of me. The peahen says nothing, but moves closer to the fence and I almost trip over myself as I scurry backward. "Don't you guys like, peck out eyes?" I ask. "Or something?"
I go to ask Siri and then remember I should probably just call someone to come rescue this peahen (that's the less colorful lady version of a peacock for those of us who aren't bird enthusiasts). She’s caught between the fence that is supposed to keep those pesky teens, wild animals, and homeless away from the busy highway and well, that busy highway.
"How'd you even get here?" I ask as I Google “Arizona Animal Rescue.” I've stopped my car on the shoulder of the road and put on my double blinkers. Not one person who has passed has asked what's wrong, but two people cat-called me, yelling "Nice legs!" and "Sweet ass!" respectively, thank you very much.
I didn't think Arizona was known for peacocks. The runaway llamas from a few months ago, sure. Ostriches, obviously; if you're from around here you know about the ostrich festival where you can ride giant birds that look like a dumbed down version of Jurassic Park’s idea of a velociraptor. And, if you've ever been outside of a golf course you know we have critters galore, but I've never ever seen a peahen besides during a fifth-grade class trip to the zoo.
Animal control answers the second time I call because I outsmart their machine and tell them I have an emergency by pressing 7, which seems like an awfully long time to wait on a robotic message system when you have an emergency. What if I had rabies right now?
A bored woman answers. "What can I do for you?" She says like she's taking my coffee order.
"I found a peahen at the side of the road and-"
She interrupts me, "Ma'am? I'm gonna stop you there. Do you have a pen and paper because I'm going to give you the number of wildlife control."
I hang up and call wildlife control.
Who has me call Arizona Bird Control.
Who has me call Berta.
Berta isn't her real name. But Berta is the "bird lady," the Arizona Bird Control woman tells me. "She takes care of this stuff for us."
Berta answers on the first ring and I try to speak as efficiently as possible because I'm still dealing with an iPhone 5s (64 gigs, it's pretty good, but the battery is shit). "I found this peacock, well, a peahen, and-"
Berta cuts in, I can tell by the flap of her gums that she definitely doesn't have more than two teeth in her whole head and one is definitely a back molar.
"She's the Wilson's bird,” she whistles. “They're always losing that damn peacock. Found one dead just the week before. Tell me where you are."
I look over at Lola (I named her) behind the fence. She waddles around until she finds some shade. "Berta is coming," I tell her as I Instagram this moment because obviously (56 likes). "Everything will be okay."
Berta rolls up five minutes later in a Nissan sedan. She pulls out a net and a husband who looks like Johnny Depp pretending to be a casual neighbor. "KEE KAW!" She greets me. "KEE KAW!" She says again.
"Hi," I say.
"KEE KAW!" She walks past me.
"Hi," says her husband.
What season of Gilmore Girls am I in?
"How'd she get in there?" Berta finally asks me something in English.
"Oh, I don't know," I say. "I wasn't here when it happened."
"I am going to have a very long talk with the Wilson's," she says more to her husband than to me. "This is the fifth time this year I've rescued one of their birds. KEE KAW."
By now, a neighborhood has come to witness Berta and her husband, Jim (probably not his real name), rescue Lola (definitely her real name now).
"Mommy!" a little girl in a tiger costume (seriously) shouts, "This is like the Katy Perry song!” She begins to sing, “I wanna see your peacock!"
"Notttt quite," the mother replies, quieting her down.
"I can't climb the fence," Berta tells me. "I was down in the gutter last week trying to rescue some ducks and a ki-yote damn near got my whole arm. The other one is shot because of a javelina."
This woman deserves some kind of grant and a special honorary Girl Scout badge at the very least. I felt like Time Magazine’s Person of the Year just for calling Berta. Meanwhile, she spends her days as the Angelina Jolie of the animal community. She describes the animals she's adopted from all over the state. I can describe all the different flavors of Pop Chips I recently bought and ate.
Am I not doing enough?
Does calling a woman to come save a bird count as volunteering?
Don’t answer that.
"I just can't do the fence," Berta looks at me expectantly and then to the bird. I'm in a skirt and tights.
"Oh," I say, "I'm not like, really a climber." In reality, if I get too close to the bird I will drop down into the fetal position and have a panic attack and cry a lot and then die because birds are the scariest things on earth.
To me, anyway.
But also I’ve never seen The Shining. Also, I am a wimp, but that’s a whole different story for an entirely different day.
A local with an accent like John Goodman in any Cohen brothers movie swings by in his truck. "Y'all need anything?" His thick drawl makes me want some waffles and some sirup real bad.
"A ladder?" Berta asks.
Like magic, two ladders appear and the crowd claps, making me wonder if maybe vaudeville could have survived.
Berta and her husband use the ladders to hop the fence and with two KEW KAWS and a plop of the net, the fun is over. Berta and Jim climb back over with Lola and pose for photo ops, which I gladly take them up on.
The crowd disperses quickly and Berta kisses Lola on the head while my insides shudder. As I get into my car, I vow to volunteer more, but decide maybe being adjacent to someone saving a bird and following that up with buying Girl Scout cookies outside of a Safeway will be enough for this month.
But next month, I swear, I’ll go sign up for something other than Hulu Plus.
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