The bird-man combs his lank, gray hair and coaxes it over his bald spot, securing his status as a local lady-killer.

He changed his window display yesterday. We lost the child-like water colours of Twin Towers and exploding jets, but gained Marilyn; white pleated skirt laughingly held by a hand that never washed dishes.  There’s a plastic pink carnation taped to the side of the photo to add a festive touch. Bird-man likes his icons.

He tells me anything I want to know about the mating rituals of finches, the nervousness of peach faces, the competitiveness of minor birds.
He’s a fund of information, watching the world from his concrete front yard.  Bum in deckchair.  Radio on.

He leans over the front fence clutching two blue budgerigars and tells me that they are new, that they are lovers, that they kiss. “Do you want to see?”  The birds duly peck at each others beaks as he leans their pretty heads close together.  “They have their own song,” he announces gleefully.  “Watch this”, he says and launches into a mellow rendition, swaying in time to his own waltz, a little bird in each fat fist.
“I give to you as you give to me, true love, (kiss kiss) true love.” (kiss kiss.)

“I had a girl once”, he confided to me one day.   I listened politely, wondering what was going to come next.  “I had a girl once”……………was all he said before letting the sentence peter out and looking wistfully away.

Meryl Leppard © 2001