I should have called this 48 hours because that's about the length of time I'm going to cover - my last 48 hours. But how boring can I get? So I'm calling it 127 hours. Much better, don't you think? Anyway I sort of have a reason for the name.
It began late afternoon, day before yesterday. I have been taking the guineas outside and putting them in Mr.Buns' old cage. He was a rabbit. Enough said about that, for now. I was just about to bring them inside when the phone rang. It was the Elder. He was sitting in traffic in Houston. We talked about this and that, movies mostly, while he intermittently cursed the traffic until he got home.
Back to the guineas. I have seen them all my life but never up close and personal. We didn't have any nor did my family or neighbors. I had not had these long, maybe at the first sign of feathers, when I realized they were not like chickens. They were wild. And these were still little. I had been taking them outside during the day. I kept an eye on them because of predators and the cage being somewhat flimsy. I have a sturdier cage but it is smaller and they can get out of it when the tray is removed. So I've been putting them in the bigger cage during the day and cleaning the smaller cage. Then bringing them in at night because I really don't trust even the smaller cage against dogs and coyotes
So I went outside to bring the little darlings in.
The door to cage was open. The cage was empty. Gone. That's all I could think. All of them. Gone.
In the edge of the woods I heard a peep, a chirp, a guinea sound. Yes! There were four bunched together and they wanted something. From their body language, (I know *snicker* please) they weren't at all sure it was me they wanted. So slowly I began trying to herd them toward the cage thinking any second they would go running, even flying off in four different directions. But, no worries. I might as well have put a big sign on the cage in guinea speech saying home. All they needed was pointing in the right direction. They showed no desire whatsoever to pass GO and collect two hundred dollars. They wanted to go directly home.
My search for the remaining eight yielded no clue. Not a sound could I hear. No track or blood or feather could I find.
I beat myself up for awhile before deciding shit happens. I had done the best I could or at least what I truly believed was adequate. Because these were, after all, animals whose lives were always to be in jeopardy. There was no safe barnyard with a friendly old dog and a youngster with a shotgun to protect them. I had them for a purpose and they would have to survive in the wild as was their want. I couldn't afford to get emotionally attached.
Emotionally attached or not, I went outside a couple times that night but heard nothing. The next morning...nothing. Around noon I went outside again to look. Guineas! All eight pecking happily in the grass. Now it would be just a matter of herding them up. No. They had gotten a taste of freedom and they were not about to go anywhere near the cage.
About every hour or so I would go out to see how it was going. And how it was not going good, err well. The guineas were gone again. Later in the afternoon though, I heard chirp, chirp, chirp. It was a lone guinea saying I'm hungry or I want my mama. Not sure which I still get confused on those two sounds. Regardless, it did not want to be herded but it did go in the general direction of the cage. Until it stopped. It stood there with its feet spaced apart and firmly planted, head raised as if to say, "I won't come to you but I'll allow you to catch me." I thought, "okay, I've never played this game with my clothes on but I'll give it a shot." As stealthily as I could, which is not saying a lot, I lunged and grabbed. Success! I now had five guineas but neither of the little light gray ones.
It must have been around 5:00 PM when I went out intending for it to be my last trip. The Younger was coming later, I was cooking supper and he was going to spend the night.
The rest of the guineas were back! And this time they were wandering toward me! Incredibly they just came up and walked right into the cage. As soon as I gave them food I knew why. Guineas are not entirely stupid. They know which side of the bread the butter is on.
About 8:00 PM, the Younger came in.
He said, "Dad, I brought us a movie to watch if we don't spend all our time talking. I have been kind of wanting to see it. It's a true story. I know what happens but I like the director. Since you like true stories so much it would be a good time to watch it if you want."
We ate and talked. Watched the movie and talked during it because I knew the story too. It was about the guy was had gone out to propel off a cliff and gotten his arm wedged between a big rock and the opposing rock face. Shit happens.
We talked mostly about writing and writers. I had thought Hemingway was a much more admired writer than Fitzgerald. He said that was probably true at one time but not anymore. I won't get into that. He said Hemingway was a minimalist and talked about that for bit. He told me that once some of the writers had, had a contest to see who could write the shortest story. Hemingway won. This is the story he wrote:
For sale baby shoes. Never worn.
Many things can be deduced from this story and and perhaps none of them are trivial but something happened. I think Hemingway probably invented the phrase shit happens.
I said, "oh by the way, what is the name of the movie?"
The reply, "127 Hours."