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Issue number nine




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Birdman Delegates Guardian of Zoo by Derek White

In a stunning turn of events, Stan the Birdman delegated eight-year-old Joshua Childs to be the temporary guardian of his private zoological collection while the birdman is on a three-week sabbatical in Oaxaca with Joshua’s mother Linda. Stan briefly dated Linda Childs, also of Axixic, before emerging from the closet last June. “I’m a wee bit apprehensive,” said Stan, “but I think Joshua is well-suited and trustworthy enough to assume this responsibility.”

Since their brief interlude and subsequent separation, Stan and Linda have remained close, and Stan has been like a father to Joshua, despite his blatant and infused homosexuality. “The fact that Stan is gay has only brought me closer to him,” said Linda. “This is the only man that I truly love on a spiritual level knowing that sex is not mixed into the equation.”

Stan, who is known in circles simply as the “birdman” due to his world-renowned collection of exotic birds, is under close scrutiny not only for his sexual orientation, but also his irresponsible drug abuse. One recent public peyote binge left Stan stark naked, believing he was a bird, flapping his arms wildly, running around the plaza of Axixic in front of many children, including Joshua, further reconfirming his status as “birdman”.

We caught up with Joshua in the inner courtyard of Stan’s home, which is home to this rare collection of exotic animals. “I don’t mind it,” said Joshua, when asked how he felt. “I’m not crazy about zoos, but Stan takes real good care of his pets.”

Besides a host of exotic birds, the collection also includes a Peruvian hairless dog, fourteen capybaras, fruit bats, Himalayan cats, and Yucatan swine. One particular parrot, a gray-head from Ecuador, has a particularly striking profile remarkably similar to a human’s. His collection is said to be more complete than most other zoos in Mexico.

“The only animal that I really have a problem with being captive is the horse,” said Joshua. “Because he’s confined to this inner courtyard, there isn’t even enough room for me to saddle him up and run him. And I was specifically instructed not to venture out of the compound.”

According to Joshua’s account, which has been corroborated by neighbors, Joshua found a short piece of rope and put it around the horse’s neck. The horse was extremely docile and cooperative, even helping Joshua to get the rope on, as if guided by an unseen bond. Then the horse began running in circles without any prompting. Joshua had never circled a horse before but had seen this done by the local caballeros. The horse ran faster and faster and Joshua had to swing the rope over his head as if it was a bullroarer.

Then Joshua looked up and the stars began to fall out of the sky. “I saw hundreds of falling stars all at once, that spiraled down and turned into buzzing fireflies and snapping dragon flies. Then these spiraled and twirled toward me and crackled and disappeared before they reached my eyes. It was a beautiful sight. The running horse was also beautiful, but whenever I looked at it, I lost sight of the falling stars and had to start all over again to build them up.”

The falling stars then became roosting bats that hung upside-down in the emptiness of the sky. Joshua took his eyes off the horse and it turned into a bat and floated upward because it wanted to roost with the other bats. The horse still had the rope attached to it, which was a good thing in some ways, because Joshua felt personally responsible for the well-being of the horse-bat, much as he would’ve liked to see it go up and roost with its kind. The rope pulled the transformed creature down into Joshua’s hands, and then the horse-bat voluntarily climbed into a cage. DNA tests have independently confirmed the genetic similarity of this creature to a horse, which is outwardly apparent mostly by the smell--distinctly horse.

At this point we might add that Joshua was on the verge of freaking out because he felt that his animal husbandry skills were somehow related to the stability of his mother’s relationship with the birdman. But Joshua was able to keep his composure and put the other animals away. He received full cooperation from the animals--the birds all flocked to him and willingly let him put them in their respective cages. In regards to feeding them, there were pieces of pretzel everywhere which Joshua suspects were the disintegrated dragonflies.

Joshua’s final responsibility every night was to take down an impressionist painting Stan had of a sailboat that was on the inner wall of his courtyard zoo. The painting is significant on one level because it was painted by Dionne Warwick. Besides not recognizing that Ms. Warwick was a painter, what most may not know is that Joshua’s father was the original owner of the painting. Joshua’s father was an art dealer that sold the painting to Stan before he divorced Linda. “This made it kind of weird to take care of the painting,” said Joshua. “I just tried to not think about the source of the painting. But I had no problem taking care of the animals. I somehow justified that as okay in my mind.”

Derek White’s writings have been recently published or are forthcoming in Score, minima, Del Sol Review, Diagram, gestalten, Aught, perspektive, xtant, and Snow Monkey. He currently works as a producer for pressplay in New York City.

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