Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Albatross Man At Christmas

Author's Disclaimer: This is an excerpt from "Dog Stories" by Roger Gavrllo copyrighted 1996.
The photo is not an Albatross.  The bird in question is a seagull. The above is a fanciful chicken with extremely long legs. The store in question is two miles from the shore of a Great Lake.  White men used the term "Great Lake". The Native Americans, called it Kitchi-gummi, sometimes Michi-gama and one source said "stinking water" was a third translation. An Anishnabe man (the real name for the Ojibwa)  from the St.Mary's band "up Nort"   told me it was called Bad Spirit because of the number of people the lake swallowed up each year.  I used Albatross because the word had a ring to it and evokes many  images from history and legend.

The crash at the front door fifteen minutes before opening time at first startled me.  After I dusted myself off and stood up, my ire was peaking.  "Gol durn these idiots. Don't they know we open at 10 AM."  I went to the front window to identify the source of the noise. I could see the top of someones camouflage hat and what looked like feathers on either side of the brim.  He was sitting on the front stoop.  I hoped that in a few minutes he'd continue his itinerant , homeless ways and move on.  I wouldn't be forced to yell at him for blocking the door or call the police.  

At opening time I unlocked the door. To my dismay, he's still there.  "Morning," he says.  I tried not to pay attention. There are a half dozen things to do at opening time, like locking cases, drawing back the steel security gates in the display windows and turning on overhead lights.  When I returned to the entrance-way, the Albatross Man is turning off his head phone set.  It saved me an additional irritation of informing him of a ban on loud radios in the store. The music is so loud I can clearly hear the tune playing before he turned it off. Perhaps he read my mind, saw my defensive body posture or  has drawn the same reaction from a dozen other downtown store keep.  "Turn that darn music off."  

I grimace when he undid his inner coat and zipped up his pants.  Although not a large man, he sported an ample gut that hung out under his red T-shirt and poked through his partially open trousers.  In my mind I rehearse the description for the beat cop after I call 911.  "Small man, not more than 5'8" , partially bald, peanut head, large gut, camo clothing and a hat with feathers on it."  

That's when I noticed a seagull under his belt.  At first it appeared to be the comical rubber chicken from the Milton Berle show in my youth.  The bird-actually a juvenile seagull because of the speckled body- was tucked, bright pink feet-first under his belt.  The lifeless head knocked against his thigh when he moved.  My non-reaction to the entire spectacle unfolding before me was the most intelligent thing any enlightened person like me could say.  " Is that a dead bird you're wearing ?" 

"Why yes," was his reply.  

"Take that thing outahere," I say with a raised voice.

"Can I put it down on the steps here?" he asks.

"No you can't. Besides it's illegal to kill these birds," I tell him. I am beginning to get angry.

"I didn't kill it," he says.

"Well, it's still against the law to possess this bird," I said next. " Take it outside."

Which is what he promptly and politely did without further argument.

to be continued



Anonymous said...

I'm already hooked on this series! Wow. What a character. I bet you've known millions of them.

Gavrillo said...

My all time favorite customer(not being sarcastic) was Momcillo Popvic, or "Mo" . He was so wired that after he got arrested for some reason, went berserk, hand placed under medical supervision. He'd bring me junk he salvaged from alleys and back streets such as a fireplace insert. The last time I saw him, he was taking lithium and as close to a zombie, I'll ever see.