Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Conned by Birds
All hucksters are by nature sceptics. Don’t bet on a thing until you can see it, he told himself. ‘Til you’re 100 miles clear of the town you’re still in translation; the mark receding into the background relieved of whatever nature saw fit to relieve him or her of. It was a measured game – talk yourself into the confidences of some guy on a yacht, talking about his centreboard, drunk on rum but with money to invest. The huckster had a measured patter: taut, reasonable, pithy. He could get contemplative about the stars in the night sky just for effect: out on the yacht and trying to push through a book deal.
Just one thing bothered him: the sweet-voiced birds that sang, tiny as feathers themselves, delicate as spun silk. Curled up at night in the galley he would hear them in the hedgerows adjoining the mooring. He knew they stirred the yacht-owner in the morning, keeping his eye close on the boat’s lockers as the sun rose.
The huckster rose before dawn. The yacht-owner was snoring in a chair on deck. He was reaching for the key to the lockers that hung around the yacht-owner’s neck when a sudden trill came from the hedgerow, a trill that rapidly grew into a chorus. The sailor stirred in his chair, but resumed his snoring. But the excitable chorus grew still louder. It was too late: the yacht-owner was awake. ‘Hello, Keith,’ he said. ‘Effing Machiavellian hummingbirds,’ the huckster swore under his breath.
The copyright of this post belongs to Ben Hargreaves