The crow was wearing a tuxedo and carried a walking stick to offset his top hat. Belting the blues with a voice turned to gravel from years of tobacco and alcohol, a spotlight followed his progress around the parking lot. Standing atop the cars to give his audience their view of him was taxing to the vehicle owners, given the crow’s six foot height and 200 pound weight. But they were little islands in an ocean of festivity, lost –perhaps abandoned. People were crowded between the cars, dancing to the riffs and sways of the music, a hypnotic sprite spreading laughter and kinship. Man, that crow could whip up a crowd.
His number over, he hopped from the top of a 2008 Toyota RAV4 and walked my way. As he passed I said “Good set.” and he topped to thank me. I invited him to a drink and flagged the waitress. He ordered a rum and Coke and I paid, adding a tip that got me a smile from the waitress. Only your best parking lots had waitresses, and I knew that I was in the presence of social royalty. However, that was of no importance to me, for I was hungry and wanted a shrimp cocktail –and come to think of it, a steak, potato, salad and perhaps some asparagus. No wait. Never mind the asparagus.
The crow studied my thoughts, looking at me with black eyes that seemed somehow distant and empty while conveying tremendous intellect. He nodded his head from one side to the other studying studiously before finally saying he thought my dinner sounded just fine to him, so long as we substituted the steak for dry roasted peanuts. I called the waitress back and gave her our order and she scurried off to see to it. “So,” I said to the crow, “when’s you next set?”
“Right now, baby!” he screeched and suddenly the world was undulating and moving to the blues as the crow, dancing from car to car, sang his scratchy lyrics at adoring fans. The waitress brought the food and I paid for it, and as I was turned handing over the cash, a dog stole the steak right off my plate. The waitress closed her hand over the money and snatched it away saying I should enjoy my dinner. I wondered why the dog hadn’t taken the dry roasted peanuts, seeing as I’d bought them for an ungrateful crow who was a remarkably able musician. As I thought it, three squirrels came along and took up the nuts, stuffing them into their puffing cheeks. One of them seemed to be the leader, and he looked at me and said “mmfpft.” because his mouth was filled with dry roasted nuts. Either that, or mmfpft is a word in squirrel. He gave me a dismissive gesture and then he and his two flunkies hopped from the table and disappeared between the dancing legs and feet and then under a car. My wife began to pull me by the arm. I looked from her to the dancing throng and then back at her.
A new day started as I sat up and rolled my legs over the side of the bed.