White security fences don’t always make for the most welcoming of introductions. This morning, I was lucky enough to visit a homeowner who had a massive, enclosed property, a property that also happened to be filled with rescue animals of the winged variety. Geese, Turkey, Ducks, and things I hadn’t really heard of, littered the two acre property, lounging in plastic baby pools and honking angrily at one another.
The property owner, elderly and agitated, was less than enthused that I was there, ironic because she was the one who scheduled the appointment, but eager to describe the rescued fowl in detail.
“Those seven were being starved before I took them in.”
I responded with a shocked stare.
“And I just spent thousands on an emergency bill for these,” She continued, not even bothering to gesture at the animals she was referring to.”
Her arms had scabs and she was visibly disheveled, but she spoke about the animals around us as if I was challenging her right to own them. “I have at least one hundred in the front yard.”
I glanced around the acreage and noted the large cages lining her property line. “They all seem so happy,” I responded, and hoped it sounded convincing.
I don’t know if it’s possible to read a bird’s emotions, but as a whole they did appear content, even more so when a torrential rain set in moments later. The homeowner however, was not expecting any “God Damned tropical weather,” as she put it, and as the first drops fell from the sky she leapt toward one of the cages.
“Food!” She yelled, along with something else I couldn’t decipher, and I watched as she grabbed a gigantic plastic tub filled with pellets and shoved it into a bird house.
“Can I help?” I yelled as I shuffled underneath her only tree, trying to escape the drops. “Also, would it kill you to let me into your home?” I added in my head.
No response, only rain.
Ten minutes later, as the storm raged on we stood, soaked, underneath her gutters.
“Renovating the whole place,” she mumbled, offering insight into why I wasn’t allowed inside her home. “Also have ten cockatoos that will scream their heads off at you.
Renovating or not, protocol requires I document her electric panel at the very least, and as soon as the downpour ceased we headed around back to her basement.
“I’m gutting everything down here too,” she explained as she opened the door. We were greeted by her dog, Rudy or Rascal or something like that, a 19 year mutt who promptly leapt up from his bed to bite my extended hand.
“He’s very spry for 19,” I commented, searching my knuckles for blood.
“Ralph that’s very bad!” Ms. Homeowner mumbled as she walked past the washing machine toward a closed door. “The panel is back here if you want to look at it.”
I didn’t, really. I wanted to leave. And as she opened the door, I wanted to run. The room was black with darkness, sans a small window, and the light pouring in from where we stood revealed cages and cages of more birds, all eyeing me suspiciously.
It was too much, really. Rudy thought so too and started nipping at my heels aggressively. “I don’t think he wants me to go in,” I tried to stay calm as my customer weaved through the cages to her electric panel.
“Raymond, that’s enough!”
He was unfazed by her scolding, so were the birds. They chatted away happily, like their basement situation was normal.
Eager to end this horror film before it ended me, I deemed everything in order but (“Oh No!”) found a random and weak detail to kill the visit.
“I’m so sorry I cannot help you today, but you have my card if anything changes,” I forced a sad smile and offered my hand. She nodded and walked me to the gate.
“I have to make sure it’s closed correctly,” she pointed at the handle. “A few of them have a tendency to wander, right Rose?”