Tube Steak’s mystery vacation

(The following is a true story. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent because who is innocent and who is not is unknowable.)

* * * *

AT A CONSIDERABLE distance in the past, I lived alone in a slave quarter apartment on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Alone as far as human companionship is concerned, which is not to say I lacked human companionship on occasion, especially of the female variety because this being decades ago I was young and quite the manly looker.

I still hold my own in the geriatric category.

I lived with a fellow whom I kept in a cage. He was a small parrot, and his name was Tube Steak. I don’t recall his specific species in the avian world, but he was smaller than your usual parrot, but about twice the size of a parakeet.

One morning, on leaving for work, I left the kitchen window open. It must have been a pretty day, and there were banana trees in the small patio that grew up to my second-floor apartment, which consisted solely of one largish room, a small bathroom and a tiny kitchen. A bachelor pad. I was between wives.

There was a small balcony that overlooked the lush patio, and I occasionally purchased a burlap bag of oysters, invited friends over, and I’d shuck the mollusks, which we enjoyed with cold Dixie beer.

Tube Steak exhibited no interest in raw oysters or Dixie beer.

But, as I said above, one morning I went to work, leaving the kitchen window open, not thinking of the cat that I knew lived in the patio below. Neither did I think of his being a second-story man which, of course, all cats are.

When I returned in the afternoon, the cage sat on its side on the floor, the sliding bottom was open, and Tube Steak was gone. I reached the logical conclusion that the cat had entered via the kitchen window and made off with my bird.

Sadly, I retrieved the cage and stashed it in the closet.

About two weeks later, I was sprawled on the bed for a nap with the French doors opened onto the balcony. It was not an oyster-and-Dixie day. I was alone.

And then I wasn’t. Tube Steak walked through the door from the balcony. He did not fly in. He strutted in, right there on the floor. He seemed no worse for wear. He appeared unconcerned, offering nary an explanation.

I pulled the cage from the closet. Tube Steak hopped in, and life returned to normal with one exception. On leaving for work, I shut the kitchen window from that day forward.

* * * *

(Note: What brought this to mind was another bird yarn that I read yesterday, The Myna Bird by Ray Clifton, an Alabaman who wanders in the woods and writes good stories to boot.)

18 thoughts on “Tube Steak’s mystery vacation

  1. A heartwarming story for sure. If only Tube Steak could tell of his adventures…

    I never had a pet bird but had a pet boa constrictor. His name was Sam. One morning before school I came downstairs and the wire top of his aquarium was bent upwards, and Sam was gone. We looked and looked throughout the house, and a day later we found him curled around the radiator in the dining room. Had to call the plumber who turned out to be deathly afraid of snakes. As he was removing the metal cover a marble fell out and he almost jumped out of his skin! We got Sam back, no worse for wear.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, dear, Brent. I’ve often wondered about the mental stability of people who keep snakes as pets. That would apply doubly to boa constrictors. But as it appears you were a kid when this happened, I will cut you some slack. I am sure you’ve returned to sanity in your adulthood. I pray so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I was allergic to dogs and cats, and my mother can’t stand squawking birds, so I talked her into a snake. Actually, Sam was easy maintenance. One mouse per week and one poop per week. It also helped to scare off Jehovah’s Witnesses when they came to the door. Of course, you can’t teach them to sit, shake a paw or all the other inane things pet owners spend their time doing. But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. They don’t smell, aren’t slimy and show affection in their own way. 🙂

        And may I never return to adulthood! Sanity, perhaps someday.


      2. I always wonder about that too. I’m so scared of snakes. If I had been that plumber I would have run out of there and as far as I could run and never return.


  2. So many pet birds escape their owner and never return. Some wild colonies have formed around places one would never think you’d find a tropical bird. Austin TX (and some other places) has numerous Quaker parakeets living in the urban areas. Favorite nesting areas are utility poles with apartment-style pods within one twiggy structure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carole: I recall there was a large colony of some large, nonnative, tropical bird that lived wild in one section of Houston when I was there. Likely still do. They usually sat up on high power lines.

      One day I noticed a cockatiel sitting on the roof of my house in Houston. I climbed up and caught him. My wife and I phoned around the neighborhood to ask if anyone had lost a cockatiel because it clearly was an escaped pet, but no dice. We ended up phoning the ASPCA, and they sent someone out to get him … or her.


      1. Felipe: For the next time, the male cockatiel has reddish patches on its cheeks. The females lay eggs and attack me. Have you figured out how I know this?

        Purveyor of all kinds of useless information, me.


        1. Kris: You’re a funny fellow. Keep it up. The Moon is almost entirely about entertainment, and I can always use some help.

          So, the bird on my roof in Houston was a lady. Who knew?


    1. Peggy: Yes, let’s not forget to tell me about George and Little Miss Ugly. And yes, you will see me soon. The last tenants departed this morning. Be vacant till you arrive. Bring a jacket.


  3. There are flocks of feral parrots living in San Francisco’s Telegraph hill and another living near the Transamerica Pyramid. Supposedly, they descended from pets who escaped in the ’30s and ’40s. Who knows? But L and I watched a lovely little documentary about them that we borrowed from the Boston Public Library, and then went to see the birds in person in January of 2017.

    I’m a little surprised that Tube Steak didn’t find a sympathetic flock and stay wild. But you’re lucky he didn’t.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we now know what kind of person names his bird “Tube Steak,” haha.


    1. Kim: Tube Steak was a loyal bird. He liked me. We understood one another. Oddly, I now cannot remember what became of him. I vaguely recall giving him away for some reason or another.

      He was always proud of his name. It improved his status at mini-parrot parties. Especially with the ladies.

      Liked by 1 person

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