GUTS THE DOG was stolen from outside my sister-in-law’s business a few days ago. This did not surprise me since he’s a cute and valuable pooch. After his extensive bath and haircut, it became obvious that he is a pure-bred fellow with a pedigree.
But two days after the robbery, he came wandering home with a string around his neck, which he obviously broke to flee his captors. So all is well, but I imagine his return will be temporary because he is still allowed to sit outside unsupervised. It’s like putting a 1,000-peso bill on the sidewalk.
Guts’ return reminded me of my mini-parrot named Tube Steak who likewise returned home after a few days on the lam. Tube Steak had not been stolen. He simply escaped because a cat entered the apartment through an open window, upended Tube Steak’s cage, and the bird hightailed it out that same window.
Tube Steak was quicker than the cat.
This adventure took place years ago between one of my many marriages — I forget which — and I was living solo in the French Quarter of New Orleans in a tiny studio apartment, a section of what is known as Slave Quarters. Please forgive me for the word slave because I know so many of you find it dreadfully offensive.
I promise not to utter it again in this post.
That (word omitted) apartment consisted of one small room, a tiny bathroom and a minuscule kitchen. It was in that kitchen that I left the window open one day while I was toiling at The Times-Picayune — or maybe it was the earlier and now-defunct States-Item. I forget which. The mind wanders.
I came home that afternoon, found the cage upended and the window open, and put 2 and 2 together. There were no feathers on the floor, so I figured Tube Steak had escaped instead of being devoured. Distraught, I put the cage in the closet and figured I was short one pretty bird.
Less than a week later, on my day off, I was sprawled — with a highball — on the bed, which sat just inside the open door with romantic New Orleans jalousies. It was late afternoon.
Past the door was a small balcony overlooking a lush, enclosed courtyard I shared with neighbors. Perhaps there were some leftover oyster shells out there. I occasionally bought burlap bags of oysters, which I cracked open and ate raw with my friends and Dixie beer.
Tube Steak came walking through the door. Not flying, mind you, but strolling with that attitude of his. Imagine my surprise. I jumped up, pulled the cage from the closet and returned my pal to his proper place.
And that’s all I recall. It’s been a long time. I vaguely remember giving Tube Steak away as a gift to a girlfriend later on, but don’t hold me to that. But I’ll never forget Tube Steak’s return and his jaunty entrance through the open doors with romantic New Orleans jalousies, in from the courtyard. It was a happy homecoming.
Just like the return of Guts from a Mexican cobblestone street.
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