Getting lost and dead birds.

I have become so reliant on the bad aspects of technology that I totally fell foul of my own complacency. “Navigate me to Cambridge Park Sport and Bowls Club,” I told my Google assistant thing. It’s the nearest landmark to Tristan and Tanya’s place. It’s very frequently asked for in my Google. Much as I hate it, I know that Google is storing information about me. My assumption is that it will hear my garbled words whilst I’m driving, check what it hears against my frequent destinations and choose the one that makes the most sense. Nope. Unbeknownst to me, it decides I want to go to Boughton Golf Club, down near The Isle of Sheppey. It doesn’t check. It just sets the route. I have my satnav set to avoid motorways. Off I go. No radio today, I’m in my head instead. “Ooh that’s a nice pub,” “what a pretty tree.” Am I looking at the road signs? Nope. No I’m not. Oh no I’m not. It’s only when I’m fifteen minutes from my destination that it occurs to me that something just might be wrong. Yep. Over an hour and a half in completely the wrong direction.

Another two hours later I’m at Tristan and Tanya’s. Why? Well this habit of driving on A roads sometimes bears fruit. The first time I saw a pheasant getting hit by a car I stopped to pick it up and realised it was still alive. I carried it to the side of the road and gave it water and two hours later it was lively and running around again. This time it was gone when I got to it. Tristan has a garden shed. I thought it might be the best place to hang it in the absence of a downstairs pantry. He was in a foul mood though so after all that I didn’t need to have navigated to the sport and bowls club after all. “Take me home,” I could have asked Google. Then I’d have wound up in Frome, but at least the people are friendly in Somerset.

I’ve hooked the pheasant to a trellis on the fire escape that was incomprehensibly left there when they took all the lovely big plant pots because of health and safety. It’s dangling wrapped in an apron for flies, and I’m hoping it’ll be cold for a few more days. I’m going to give it two days – maybe three. I’ll end up having to follow some ghastly YouTube tutorial to prepare the poor thing. It’s going to be mucky and long work. But considering the other option was to let it be pounded into the tarmac, it seems the right thing to do, and I’ve got no qualms about learning another skill. I saw one of my acting tutors once, in a play, butchering a rabbit. They had taught themselves well, but they held it at arms length, betraying a sensitivity a butcher wouldn’t have and giving the lie to the whole business of learning how to do it for the part instead of tricking it.

That stretch of road is lethal. When I stopped to pick it up, there too were the remains of a deer, just mouldering. I’ve been lucky to have only once been slammed once and by a relatively small bird, part of a murmuration that dropped too close to the road. I still remember the thunk as fate selected it as the only animal in that vast dark cloud of beings that was unable to avoid the glass of my windshield. I’ve never hit a deer or a pheasant or anything larger than that starling. Touch wood I never will. It must be hell of a shock.

I made it home and found an expectant cat who is now beside me once more, all fur and purr, happy to have company once more. He was curious about the bird. I am too. This’ll either be a messy disaster or the beginning of a terrible urge to veer towards and not away from the animal. (Don’t worry. I’m way too into things like totems to do it on purpose.)

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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