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I rub my eyes and look around. The sun is barely above the tree line, the humans below are still drinking coffee and reading the morning paper. There’s hardly a cloud in the sky. Looks like I’m the only thing awake this early. I stretch out my wings and give out a loud yawn.
I scan around and take in my surroundings. The grass is still wet with dew and silence fills the air. Something feels out of place. I notice something, mom is gone. She left her purse, so she can’t be out shopping. It’s not like she has any plans on a Tuesday, so where would she be?
“Maybe, just maybe ... she was kidnapped. That would explain why her purse is still here,” I thought out loud, “and no one would suspect a kidnapping on a Tuesday.” I put my hand under my chin and start pacing around the nest. “But why would someone try to hurt her? She never did anything wrong. What if she was a secret spy who knew too much or owed money to the mafia. Whoever it was,” I pause and look towards the sky, “is gonna regret it.”
I run through my head all the things a real detective would do, check the crime scene, look for clues, interview witnesses. They didn't leave behind a single clue, so my investigation wasn't going to be easy. I peer over the edge of the nest looking for a witness and almost as if on cue, I spot a snail moving suspiciously fast. Looks like I have a real case on my hands. I spring forward, wings spread wide and beak pointed straight ahead. I dive down towards my first lead. Just as she’s a few feet away, I pull my wings back and drop down talons first. At the last second my suspect takes a sharp turn onto the sidewalk. I crash right into the ground and I tumble head over tail like a coin being flipped. The ground and sky blur together. When I finally get back on my feet, my head is still spinning.
Struggling to keep my balance I call out the snail ,"Hey, hey Lady!"
Her head snaps back towards me, her mouth drops and her eyes light up. “ You've seen Jeffrey!?” She asks as she moves faster than any snail I've ever seen. Her eye stalks almost touch the crown of my head when she blurts out, “Where is he!?” Spit from her mouth finds its way all over my face. "Where’s Jeffrey?" She repeated , this time the force from her spit knocks me flat on my back.
I look up at the towering green snail, one eye blocks out the sun and the other was probably peering into my soul. I manage to squeeze out a “no”. Then I clear my throat. "Have ... you seen mom?”
"No,no,no. Jeffrey, his name is Jeffrey. I woke up and he was gone. I looked all over, under the bed, behind the shed, in the kitchen, everywhere.”
Then it hit me, it wasn't just an isolated incident there must have been a mass kidnapping last midnight.
I get back on my feet and ask, " Can you tell more about this, Jeffrey?"
“Oh yes of course here’s a poster. You see Jeffrey was the sweetest son I could have ever asked for. He’s very bright and gets along with everyone.”
"But does he have any enemies is what I'm wondering.”
"No, none that I could think of. Why do you ask?"
“You see, I have reason to believe,” I pause and look towards the sky, "your son has been kidnapped.”
Her reaction isn't quite what I expected. Her whole face shrivels as if she bit into a lemon and turns a hot red. Like a steaming tea kettle, she screams in a ear-splitting high pitch. Finally tears start pouring out and she falls to her knees. I decide that she is no longer fit for interrogation. I tuck the poster into my pocket and continue on.
Who knows how many unraked leaves and cracks in the sidewalk I‘ve passed and how many more I’m going have to pass until I find a new lead. All the nocturnal animals have already fallen asleep and the rest of us have barely just gotten out of bed. I was lucky to have run into that snail, but whether my mom was abducted by aliens or shanghaied was still anybody’s guess.
I look high and low for mom, flying past telephone poles, mailboxes, behind bushes and around trees. Scanning the streets below, I only see early morning humans on jogs, They had to be somebody, anybody who was awake right now, it's not like everyone in the entire neighborhood just agreed to sleep in today. I look around some more and notice they’re storm clouds coming in, no sign of mom, only bad weather.
Suddenly, among the distinct silence of the morning I hear a fast chi chi chit twee, then another and another .Liking asking someone about their day after a bad joke, the noise broke the awkward tension. Trying to zone in on the noise as quickly as possible, I ignore anything that stands between me and the source of the sound. Branches rake against feathers as I plow head on through bush after bush.
It doesn't take long until I spot two brown silhouettes. I fly in closer and kiss the ground. I manage to get a good look at the two. They were squirrels, one female, one male, both were perched in a tree. They look agitated, ready to fight, almost as if they were arguing. I call out to them. They ignore me. I had to get their attention somehow. So I decide to go with the first plan I could think of, I throw a fist full of rocks at the two.
Direct hit to the forehead. My plan works exactly as planned...sorta. Like the rocks I threw, the squirrels fly fast and hard. They hit the ground with a loud thud and whenever I try talking to them, they just stare at me. The squirrels were completely motionless, I was afraid I knocked something out of place in their brains.
I do the most sensible thing I can think of, I slap them, repeatedly. From what I understand from watching movies, this is the easiest way to fix this sort of dilemma and it requires very little professional training. By the time my arm gets sore one of the suspect’s eyes are half open. I assume I finally got the desired results.
This time I’ll do thing differently, I’ll imitate a cop.“Hey,hey”, I said softly, while snapping my fingers. ”My names Officer Eastman. All I want here is your cooperation, alright?”
The squirrel with shaggy hair and shorts looks up and asks, “Loraine wh-what happened?”
Loraine does not respond.
“Shush, don’t worry about her. Now tell me, have you seen a little ole lady pass through here recently?” I tried to ask as reassuringly as possible.
“Who are you,” he asked scratching the stubble on his chin. “Am I on TV?”
“This here is the real deal, so I need you to take this seriously, understand?”
“Sweet. Hear that Loraine? We're on TV. We're gonna be like famous and stuff.”
This time Loraine struggles to open her eyes, looks up at me, and then jumps right up.
“Just who told them they could film me, people need to respect my privacy and why they filming so early, my hair is a mess, they know I can’t be seen like this, did you say they can do this,” she spoke fast, barely taking enough time to breath.
“Lady do I look like a cameraman? I’m clearly a police officer.”
“No you don’t talk that why to me. I don’t care who you are little boy you need to learn some r-e-s-p-e-c-t, respect.” This time she put plenty of emphasis on her words, and clapped with every syllable too.
“Ma’am, I’m here on official police-y type business and I think you need to respect the badge.”
“Boy, you listen her,” she wags her finger and points back at herself. “I think you gotta respect your elders. I'm old enough to be your momma.”
The other squirrel piped in, ”say little dude where is your mom … and the cameras?”
I take a deep breath, these two are starting to get on my nerve. “Two things. One, there are no cameras. Two, that’s what I want to know.” I grit my teeth and space my words, ”where is my mom?”
“Gee I dunno, my minds still a little fuzzy. Who are you again? And what’s this bump on my head,” he ask a little too nonchalantly.
“You know what,” I rubbed the bridge of my beak, ”I give up.”
“Wow, wait up little dude. I was talking with my girl a few minutes ago. And then my mind went like all blank or something. Now I’m on TV, something ain’t right or maybe this is part of the show?”
I give out a sigh and flap my wings for lift. Their voices get muffled, all I could make out was something about “come back” and “calling the cops”. This didn’t help to ease my mind. Somewhere Mom was probably calling out for me too. “Don’t eat my brains”, “I’ll never tell you the secret of the universe”, just thinking about what type of trouble she was in made my heartache.
The sun was long over the treeline and behind the rain clouds by the time I decide to give up. I plop down in a thicket of leaves and grass near a tree. The foliage above me was thick enough to block out most of the sun and let only a few specks of light hit the ground. Though it still wasn't enough to keep me dry once the rain started coming down.
I let my mind wander and I ask myself “What if she’s a lost cause”. Maybe she was long sacrificed to whatever cult that may have gotten their hands on her. I bet she feels like that blue speck up there, separated from the other blue specks that may or may not roam the sky. It must hurt.
“Hey, it’s gonna be alright,” I call out to the blob in the sky, “someones coming to help you ... I’m sure of it.” I let my head fall back onto the soggy leaves. “Who am I kidding, it’s not like that blob can understand bird talk, it’ll just stare at me all dumbfounded,” I said a loud, certained that the speck in the sky would just stare at me all dumbfounded.
“Is that you,” the object called from above.
“Oh sh-snap,” I shot up from the pile of leaves. “You can understand what I’m saying!?”
The blue blob descended from the sky. Slowly I could make out more features as it got closer. Round body, two feet, wings, beak, feathers.
“Say … Are you my mother?” I dared to ask in its presence.
“Oh baby it’s you! Now just what are you doing out here all by yourself?”
Bingo. I was right on the money. “Well look who it is,” I was desperate to get some closure on this whole escapade, ”so who was it that kidnapped you, pirates or ninjas?”
“Why you need to lay off the movies, don't’ you know it’ll turn your brain into mush. And now what’s this talk about kidnapping, don’t tell me you were taken.” Apparently mother was desperate to get some answers.
“What do you mean? To me it sounds like you were knocked right on your head with a real heavy stone.”
“I don’t think I understand,” Mom said slowly.
“Let me give you the rundown: I wake up, your gone, I look for-”
“I left to get groceries silly. I do that every Tuesday morning, they have an early bird special,” she said it like it was really that obvious.
It took me awhile to process this revelation, but after a few seconds of staring at her with a blank expression, I finally made sense of it. “Oh, I get it. You’re speaking in code!” I leaned in closer and whispered, ”so, where are the groceries. Wink.”
Her voice turns serious, “I’m being literal when I say I left to go get groceries. This isn’t a game.”
“No no, I understand the situation. You are a spy, a secret spy,” I said slyly. “And you're on some sort of secret mission, right? It’s cool.”
“Listen closely, it’s very brave of you to go and look for me. But you should’ve just called me. Ok?”
I gave out a loud sigh. “Ok. But seriously where are the groceries? I’m starving over
“Oh you would not believe what happened. I was about to ring up the groceries and then I look down and remember, I left my purse at the house! I was so embarrassed.”
“Yeah great.” I stretch out and say, “well lets go get them.”
I thought the Mystery of the Missing Mother was solved, until I saw that something fell from my pocket. A folded piece of paper, the poster about Jeffrey. It turns out the day was far from over.
I turn towards Mom, “say, there's some unfinished business I need to tie up.”
“Oh, sure thing, but lets go home first,ok? Mommy is very tired.”
“No time to wait”, I waved Mom goodbye,” time is of the essence!” I ran off into the woods, my next adventure was calling me.