The two scanned the back yard around the broad-leaved tree, keeping the red fountain of nectar at center focus.

“Whatcha see?” she asked.

“Nuttin’ but my sugar,” he said, approaching cautiously. He took cover behind the greenery of the tree. She followed. As they moved stealthily, using the foliage as a curtain, a sound came from the house. They snapped their heads toward it. A vision of rose-red was growing near.

“Oh, lordy, look a-that,” he said. “Got my heart racin’.”

“I’m lookin’,” she said. “Well, go on. Go.”

“No, you go,” he said, and flitted away. She chased him.

“You chicken!” she said. “Cheee-kin.”

Pam Wells/The Pullets

“I’m not a chicken! This here’s your job description, lovey dove. You’re the taste tester, an’ you’re so fine at it. You know me, honey dew. I’d get my nose stuck on sumpin’ I couldn’t identify.”

“Yeah, I know you, all right,” she said, just out of reach, “but you’re still a pointy-nosed chicken.” She slipped back to the far side of the tree. She had to get a bit closer, but safely. That red outfit—tse-tse-tseek, very very chic, but not for me. She rejoined her partner.

“Well?” he said.

“No cashin’ that cheeek,” she said.

“You kiddin’?”

“Would I be sittin’ here if I was kiddin’?”

Tse-tse! Let’s get a move on. This ain’t the only party on the block.”

“Was yesterday.”

“Oh, so now we flyin’ backwards, eh? Well, we can hang here flappin’ or we can move on. I’m hungry.”

• • • • •

“Wait!” Audrey called. “Don’t go!” She watched the pair slip into Felder’s yard as Carl drove down the driveway. She crept to the gap in the hedge, her camera in  hand.

“What’re you looking at?” Carl asked.

“Hummingbirds,” she said. “I wanted to take a picture but I couldn’t get close enough.” As she pocketed the camera in her red fleece vest, Carl noticed the tag on the shoulder. “I heard ’em talking, though,” she went on. “They make this little metallic sound, like tse-tse-tse.”

“If you say so. Was that vest really five ninety-nine?”

“Oh, good Lord, I forgot,” she said, pulling off the tag. “Yeah, very very cheap.”

“Nice. What’cha got going for dinner? I’m starving.”



Audrey lifted her chin, listening to a faraway tseek-tseek-tseek. Although she was surprised Carl couldn’t hear it, he insisted her hearing was good enough for the both of them. She explained loudly that hovering over her in the kitchen would not produce dinner any faster and that he should stop sticking his finger in the honey-mustard dressing.

©2010 Pam Wells


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