On the outside pane of a beer garden window there were two back-to-front people standing front-to-front. Mouths were moving. Maybe somewhere outside front-to-back mouths were making noise. On the inside pane there was definitely a lot of dirt.
Someone should get round to cleaning that.
“I made a box.”
“Oh wow. What with?”
“With plastic? Like an IKEA put-together thing.”
“No. I’m a plastic welder.”
“Can you weld plastic?”
“Because umm… I dunno. Doesn’t it burn or something?
“Do you know how to weld?”
“I guess not? Um no?”
At this point a bird flew down and parked itself close to them. It was very colourful. Very. She was thankful. If it had been brown perhaps the conversation would have continued. It didn’t. They both looked at the bird.
“Look how close that parrot is to us.”
It was very close to them. Very colourful too.
He looked at its tail. It was blue. Like his eyes.
If he had turned to the window at this time he would have seen a girl with boxy eyes looking back at him - even though the girl next to him was looking at a parrot.
That would have freaked him out for sure.
“Why did you ask him if plastic burns?”
“Yes. So why did you ask?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he could weld a different way that wouldn’t burn the plastic. Maybe he was using microwave safe plastic to make his box. Maybe it was special welding plastic”
“I wonder why the parrot isn’t scared.”
“Perhaps he used to be a pet parrot.”
He hadn’t been. He had never been given bird feed, a cracker, a name or had his backneck fingerdug by a notparrot.
He was not in the business of parroting. He was a people watcher parrot. This was where his colourfulness was a problem. He watched and suddenly they watched. If he were brown there would be no competition as to who was watching better. The competition made him feel like he missed things. Maybe he was focusing on winning watching instead of watching.
And watching and winning watching were different things. They really were. So different they repelled each other so shoutingly that they ended up crashing through each other again on the other side of the world. And then suddenly they were the same for a second. And then for thousands of seconds till they met again they weren’t. Or they were. But in different languages.
And different people. And different windows.
So the competition began.
"Why would I have said that? I can't stop talking and then suddenly I'm telling everyone about my life. Like the only way they could like me is to feel sorry for me. "
"I think it’s unlikely that he thought you were surprised that I was not scared just because you’re scared of being close to people and them seeing your terrible skin.'
"Neither is sewing on your own buttons."
It wasn’t his fault the girl in the window had boxy eyes to start with. Try not putting anything in a window when you’re standing in front of it. It’s damn hard. At least he was the only one who saw their boxiness. Not everyone’s kind enough to make sure of that.
She couldn’t see what he put in the window, but she could see the window.
And in the window she could see him putting something there that wasn’t here.
"When I lived in Madagascar for a year there were so many parrots like that."
"They were incredible. They used to come and sit right out the front of the ratty house we were living in. Oh my god, the house was so horrible. But it was kind of great because now every house I live in seems better – you know, by comparison."
"Like at the moment, the house I'm living in has doors connected to the roof instead of the floor and I really like maxi skirts but it just means the middle bit at the bottom of them keeps getting black marks because, well, I do hoist them up when I step over them, but sometimes not high enough. And I mean the doors are longer than normal doors. So there's less space between the bottom of the top of the door and the floor than there is in normal houses between the top of the door and the ceiling. But you still have to step pretty high up to get through the door. I mean, sometimes it's fun. Like we can pretend we're in the Mary Poppins scene where they eat their food on the ceiling.”
The parrot thought this was painful to watch, but barely felt more than a breeze ruffle his feathers.
"That bird’s really not going anywhere eh?"
No. He wasn't.
"Have you been welding plastic long?"
"No, I've just kind of been experimenting with it recently. Before that I was using the male and female symbols from public bathroom signs.”
“To make boxes?”
“Yeah... And containers.”
“Oh cool. What's the difference between the boxes and containers?”
“That's kind of something I choose not to explain.”
“Oh okay. Cool. So what would you want people to put in your boxes if you could choose?”
“Wow. I really like the question. I guess plants. Really baroque-like plants.”
“I think I just like the idea of people buying something just for its aesthetic value and then putting it in a box so nobody, even the artist, can see it.”
“Ha, I like that.”
There are special fine feathers that cover a parrot’s ears. That’s why you can’t see them.
These feathers deaden the sound of the wind so that when they fly they can hear other sounds that are more important.
They look the same as baby parrot feathers.
It was weird that her reflection was still looking at him. Her reflection was supposed to be chatting to his reflection, not him.
“Yeah he does that sometimes.”
“How do you know? Is he your parrot?”
“No. Not my parrot. A parrot though.”
That is what parrots do. Strange he had to ask.
“Ok. Well, I’m gonna go get another drink.”
A bartender looked at the window, walked next to them and pulled the blinds down so that his and her reflection disappeared. She wasn’t having any of this funny stuff happening in her bar thahnkyoovehrymuch.
Later it would rain so she could close the outside area early and get out of work on time for once.
Somebody up there must think that bartender’s doing good.
But somebody down here will probably just tell her to clean that inside pane.
“He didn’t ask you one question.”
“True. He asked me two. Both about you.”
“Well, it’s pretty normal to ask a question about something right in front of you.”
She looked at her drink. There was one sip left. Maybe two if she really thought about it when she sipped and made suresuresure not to turn it into a gulp.
This was not the time for magic tricks.
If she gulped she would have to follow him to the bar.
And they’d both said ok. So that would not be ok.
She looked at the parrot.
In his eyes she saw a face like hers with worse skin and eyes even tinier than the parrot’s.
And pupils that seemed liked they had straighter edges than before.
She pushed her pupils to the top of her eyes, a bit scared that these newly formed corners would cut her eyelids. But they propped them up ordinarily and from the higher vantage point, looked into the top bit of the parrot’s eyes to get a bird’s eye view of themselves. Something was missing inside them though.
They almost seemed hollow.
He looked up at her eyes. He thought she could do with some baby feathers over them so they couldn’t go rummaging around in his own eyes trying to find themselves there.
Suddenly the wind howled a pretty little flowery thing into his left eye and he blinked.
And when she couldn’t see the tiny eyes and the terrible skin, she took the glass away.
And there was enough beer there for two more sips.
PARROT MAKES A SCORESHEET
He was good at watching but bad at recording. Perhaps it was why he had been so bad at parroting and become a people watcher parrot. He coulda made a helluvalottamunny through parroting. But his lacking documenting skills means we’ll never know whether he couldn’t or didn’t.
He tried putting the scores on the same scorecard so that he could save paper.
Someone should have won. He was sure. But he wasn’t even sure someone had one.
He would have to wait a while for watching to crash into winning watching again. But maybe somewhere on their round-the-world trip one of them had swerved off and they weren’t heading towards each other anymore.
Maybe they were running parallel now and would never ever meet again.
Remember those matchstick games on the back of Redhead matchboxes?
There’s one where there are four matches. They all point outwards and meet in the middle and form a cross.
One match has to move to make a square.
So one moves a tiny bit further away from the other matches and you can see a tiny square in the middle made by all their edges joined together.
You do actually have to pick it up and move it though.
But if it’s really windy then the matches go everywhere, the square disappears, you lose the matches and it’s really difficult to make a tiny square again.
A pigeon flew down and stood next to the parrot. Uninterested in seeing anything, as pigeons often are. So uninterested that he walked right through the parrot and neither bird noticed. He was just looking for dropped-on-the-ground-burger-bread.
She kept looking at the parrot’s eyes and smiled. She was not happy but she was happy looking and this would make her look more interested and more interesting looking. She was trying to think about whether the parrot was more or less colourful than the justbrown pigeon.
The parrot had more colours.
But the pigeon was more fully a colour.
The blue on the parrot’s tail was just there because it didn’t know where else to be. It hadn’t really thought about why it was there but it wanted to be somewhere and the sky and sea were all full up when it was looking for a place to stay.
If the local government decides to put ‘No Loitering’ signs on parrots’ tails, that blue will be fucked.
She was trying to think about this. Really, she was.
But it wasn’t working so she tried ground looking instead. But her giant feet got in the way and she was suddenly looking at her toes stretch up towards her eyes.
She was glad she had worn sandals. It would have been a shame to box them up in shoes.
The parrot noticed she was looking happy. She only noticed her toes.
The parrot looked at his scoresheet. It was blank. He hadn’t found anything to unblank it with.
But the pigeon had found some bread.