The Hunt (a short story)

(This short story was originally published in American Way, the inflight magazine for American Airlines)

They were huddled miserably in the car, a light gray sleet hissing against the windshield.
It was 5:30 a.m., and instead of feeling the exhilaration of the upcoming hunt, Hank felt defeated, deflated. His twelve year-old son Henry was hunched in the passenger seat as far away from Hank as he could possibly get. He was staring at himself in the side view mirror. He refused to get out of the car.

Hank cast about in his mind for what he should do. He realized with some surprise that his parenting skills were limited. He didn’t know how to make Henry get out of the car. He thought of force. He supposed he could “whack him upside the head” as his own father had been prone to do.

But, the truth was, he’d never whacked either of the kids. Had never even raised his voice at them. Now he feels that maybe he should have; maybe he’d been too soft on Henry all along. Lately Henry seemed to skulk around the house with his headphones on, spinning his yo-yo, listening to music by bands that Hank had never heard of. Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, Beastie Boys, Green Day.

Hank looked at Henry, whose hands were clenched, eyes blinking furiously behind his glasses. His entire body seemed to say I hate you. Hank remembered the solid weight of him as a baby, when he used to walk the floor with him in the middle of the night. The wobbly, bald head, the drool, and the smile that could make the darkness of the hour vanish.

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Birdie and Porky: A Love Story

(I wrote this story a few years ago after reading a news report of a parrot missing from the Philadelphia Zoo, at about the same time a pig went on the lam in Florida.  What writer could resist such a set-up!)

After four days on the lam, a missing parrot from the Philadelphia Zoo was back at Bird Lake for a bath, a bite to eat and a reunion with its flock. (Tom Infield, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer, July 25, 2009)
Roaming Free in Florida, A Pig Gains Local Fame (Headline, NY Times, July 24th, 2009)

Day One: I have done it. I have flown the coop, or the perch, or whatever you want to call the man-made prison that has been my home these past few months. I think they mean well, but this place they call Philadelphia, with its hordes of corpulent sweaty screaming humans is really too much to bear. Even though I am one of the ones born in captivity (oh, how I despise that phrase!) the beat of my native Brazil, home of my ancestors, pulses deep inside me. I believe you would love it there as well. It is my deepest desire to get there, especially before this dreadful thing they call winter comes.

I have been following the news articles of the past few months about your life on the lam in Panama City (they often line the shelves in our habitats with newspaper), and these have given me the courage to bolt. I cannot tell from photos how large an animal a feral pig might be, but I hope we might be companionable. They say you have eluded authorities for months, even after being tasered and shot with tranquilizer darts. Kudos, my friend. (I hope I may indeed call you my friend, as I believe my longing to be free has been so greatly inspired by your own raw courage.) Today shall be the day.

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