M is practicing a new magic trick.
“I saw it again,” I tell him.
“The Big Fat Dirty Bird!”
He places an orange in his hand. He frowns at the orange. “Where?”
“The subway. It was playing drums and singing an oasis song,” I say, keeping calm.
“I like it,” He says, placing a dirty dish-rag over the orange, “when did you see it for the first time?”
I remember very clearly. I tell him, “last week. I went to the shop to grab a bottle of vodka. When I walked back it was standing in the ally right next to our door. It didn’t move, just stared. I nearly shit myself. I ran inside. I watched Mary Poppins just for the distraction. Then, the other day, I was in that clothing shop by the subway. It was just wandering around in there. It didn’t even look at the clothes!” I finish, out of breath.
While I talk M blows on the dirty dish-rag seven or eight times.
“Does it say anything?” he asks.
“No! it just stares at me with those two big fluffy eyes.” I sip my tea and try to forget how those eyes stare. M lifts the dish rag.
I lift my tea as an orange colored hamster leaps out of his hands and scurries around the table. M slams his hand down and misses. The hamster squeaks and looks as though it might leap. It pauses at the edge of the table a moment too long. M brings his hand down, hard. He looks at me.
“Your imagination is whacked. How are you going to end this one?” He lifts his hand. It is covered in orange slime. “Man, I fucked it up,” he groans. He gets up and goes to wash his hands in the sink. He looks back at me.
“So how are you going to end it?”
I frown at the busted orange on the table. “End what?” I say.
“This story about the big fat dirty bird?”
“What? It’s fucking real. That thing is out there. It’s following me.” I try to keep the panic out of my voice. M dries his hands and sits back down at the table.
“I don’t like that ending much, what if the big dirty bird is actually some princess whose been, like, waiting for you to talk to her? That’d be cool.”
He pulls a new orange from the bag beside him. He places the dirty dish rag over it.
I stare out the window at the street below, wide eyed and wary.