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Song of the Red-Legged Birds: Chapter 1: Struck
Takeda, Triscuit, and the birthday
Song of the Red-Legged Birds
For my favorite person in the world who I am lucky enough to call my wife, Julie. And for Malama, Mano, and Meli.
Chapter 1: Struck
He sped through time and space unencumbered, warming and twisting with the splendor of the cosmos. Dancing, loving, knowing. All burst through, and he became the center, an observer of the construction of reality. The song, an eternal heartbeat, thrummed and jettisoned matter on a mission to infinity. All spun him, weaving his consciousness into an ethereal tapestry. He raced. Strands of love gave chase, impacting on all sides, repairing, nurturing, melding. They embraced and sent him – home.
Today was his birthday. Although he was alone, had no plans, and didn’t expect anything exciting to happen, he was happy. The Event had caught him early in the morning. He tried to remember when they usually happened. To the best of his recollection, they were later on, and a few times he’d gone to a celebration center with friends. That must have been in the evening, right?
It didn’t matter. Most things didn’t on your birthday. Takeda felt wonderful. That was a word he never used, and it didn’t do the feeling justice. But the Event didn’t increase your vocabulary or make you more intelligent. It washed you with a sense of clarity and peace, like floating weightless in the ocean while the sun heals your soul. He wondered if this was how enlightenment felt.
He shuffled to the kitchen. As usual, a pot of coffee was already brewing, set for 6:00 am. He didn’t need the caffeine. He was awake, clear-headed, and energized. The thought occurred that shuffling was a habit and not connected to how he felt. So, he stopped doing it.
The Event had the ancillary effect of acting like his morning brew. A kind that wouldn’t make you anxious, jittery, and wanting more. Takeda was wide awake, present. He wanted to share the sense of joy building in his chest with someone, anyone. Triscuit would be the first. She always woke up after him, unlike most dogs. The pooch imitated his shuffle to the kitchen. Her nails click-clacking like tap shoes on the old wooden apartment floor. She plopped down in front of her dish with a grumble and dough eyes that said, “Feed me, please. The small hound cocked her head to the side, sensing a difference in her master. She tasted the air. Approving the analysis, she approached Takeda and licked his hand. He crumpled to the floor, hugging and squeezing his best friend.
“Good morning, Tris! Who’s a good doggie dog? You are; case closed! I’m going to cook us eggs, bacon, and sausage; let’s eat like kings! In the meantime, your appetizer, madam.” He emptied the contents of a can of food into her dish with a flourish. Triscuit thumped her tail on the floor with ecstatic joy and dove into breakfast.
After eating, Takeda lounged on the couch, basking in the birthday glow. He had a mixture of wanting to do everything and nothing. He most often felt pain, sadness, shame, and embarrassment in the morning. On its heels were methods to distract him from emotional turmoil. Vintage movies, music, books, and video games. Items that would divert his mind from things in the past and things to come of which he had an irrational fear. He recognized it as irrational, which was even more frustrating. Knowing that something isn’t real and yet fearing it, all the same, seemed like something only he could do. Was the whole of the world this way? Was he the only one? He also sensed that this fear made things worse and gave the unseen power or life.
Usually, he’d get angry about this self-sabotage. But today was different. Takeda sipped coffee on the couch with his feet up, as relaxed as Siddhartha under the Bodhi tree. In fact, he more closely resembled a pizza guy in a cheap Boston apartment in 2117. No distractions clouded his mind; no desire to obscure the present moment surfaced. The birthday effect was in charge. He had a hard time remembering this experience from year to year, the feeling of it. Maybe because it’s as natural as breathing? For Takeda, it was an alien feeling. Like having a good-paying job, a healthy romantic life, and a strong circle of dependable friends.
He sat in stillness. Triscuit nudged her empty bowl, licking up the last morsels. The muffled conversation of neighbors who descended creaky steps echoed. Car horns and growling engines provided a constant wall of sound three stories down. Yet, in him, all was still and silent.
A moment before the first bird struck the window; he jerked his arm - spilling the coffee.
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Next week in Chapter 2 “Into it” we go for pizza and meet Chimera