by Phil Temples
Another bird job.
Sam said it
aloud as though every other run involved the
rescue of a feathered creature. The four men and
one woman of Ladder 12 had arrived at 125
Prescott Street to find a parrot called Captain
Hook sitting on a branch about fifty feet
up in a tall oak tree. Captain Hook appeared to
be in good spirits. His owner, however a
Mrs. Marjorie Fletcher -- was quite beside
Do something! Captain has never been
out of the house. Dont let him get hurt!
please calm down. My men will do everything they
can to get your bird down safely.
came from another Captain. Captain
Sean T. OReilly had been in the vicinity
and decided to stop by and monitor the progress
of the rescueand to check on the progress
of their newest crew member. While the crew broke
out the ladder, OReilly tried to calm down
dont understand, sir! Hes more than a
bird. Hes my family! Hes all Ive
got. The tears welled up in her eyes.
understand, maam. Well have your...
ah... Mister Hook back to you in no
Now, please dont take this the wrong
way, maam. Im only askin for
insurance purposes. Can you tell me the
approximate value of Captain Hook?
At first, Mrs.
Fletcher looked at Captain OReilly in an
odd manner as though the question was nonsensical.
She thought for a moment.
been valued at $75 thousand. I have him insured
for one hundred thousand dollars.
Petey and Joey
were standing nearby and heard the exchange. Joey
whistled at the mention of dollar amount. OReilly
shot him a dirty look. Clearly this job called
for a little finesse.
you goin up? asked the Captain, of
the companys newest firefighter, Susan
but, arent you going to send one of your
men after my Captain? Mrs.
Fletcher asked, meekly. She was clearly
uncomfortable with a member of the weaker sex
being entrusted with such a crucial mission.
you worry now, Mrs. Fletcher. Suzy is one of the
Petey and Joey
held the ladder. Suzy, in a full body fall arrest
and sit harness, headed up with a small
assortment of tools strapped to her waist. She
was followed by Johnny, better known around the
station house as JG.
cried Suzy. Watch out for the bird poop, JG.
He almost nailed me.
brought a chuckle from everyone on the ground,
with the exception of Mrs. Fletcher. She thought
that it was most disrespectful. However, she kept
her mouth shut. Mrs. Fletcher didnt want
anything to distract the fireman and that girl
from rescuing her poor Captain.
Captain! yelled Suzy.
Pretty Captain! replied Captain Hook.
bird! Suzy countered.
Pretty, Pretty Captain! said the bird.
echoed OReillys response.
Captain! Suzy said.
your pardon! yelled Captain OReilly
from the ground.
Cap, not youI was talking to the bird.
Sure you were, sure you were! yelled
a little out of our reach! Im thinkin
that we hang a split-side pulley off that big
branch and rig some hand line. Sound okay by you?
do it -- BWAAK! yelled the parrot.
unanimous, Suzy, said JG, from a few rungs
-- ya wonder why we go after an animal thats
perfectly capable of getting himself up here in
the first place. Now, surely he could find his
way back down, wouldnt ya think?
Its a PR thing. We go
after cats all the time. He added, If
ya ask me, we oughta just shake the
damn branch until ole Mister Hook
here decides to fly back down under his own steam.
Except for the fact that that damn thing is
worth more than the first mortgage on my house.
frustrating minutes later, Suzy and JG were still
no closer to rescuing Captain Hook. The Captain
stayed conveniently out of their reach. He would
periodically interrupt his pruning to eye the two
would-be rescuers with great suspicion.
right, Captain Hook. Come to papa -- come to papa,
Fa loves Pa!
did it say to me? said JG.
said Suzy. She lowered her voice to a whisper.
You want that ole bag down there to
go mental on us? Just humor the bird, alright?
girl, pretty girl, said the Captain to Suzy.
The Captain followed up with a wolf whistle.
how to chat up a gal, doesnt he?
you should take some lessons from him, she
replied. Suzy turned her attention to the ground.
she yelled. I got an idea! Pass up one of
the spare rake handles from the back of the truck!
Maybe Captain Hook will step out onto
it. I can passem over to JG!
no! cried Mrs. Fletcher, below. Youre
not going to make my poor Captain walk the
listen. responded Captain OReilly in
the most calm, paternal manner that he could
muster. No ones going to put your
bird in any danger. My gal up there knows what
shes doing. Petey -- grab a rake handle
from the truck if you would, please?
Nearly an hour
later, Suzy and JG were carrying on an extensive
dialog with Captain Hook. Talking to the parrot
seemed to keep its attention focused on Suzy and
JG. It also kept him from moving further away. To
observers on the ground it appeared as though
Suzy and JG were trying to reason with the bird.
if you just walk the plank for me, Ill
give you a big, big surprise!
Suzy said it
in a provocative manner using a chesty voice, as
though she were offering the bird a sexual treat.
Captain -- and all of us get to watch too,
JG! snapped Suzy.
Shut up, JG! You want that ole bag down
there to go mental on us? screamed Captain
muttered Suzy under her breath. She knew that Mrs.
Fletcher -- in fact, everyone else below -- had
heard Captain Hooks last remarks.
gonna have to watch what we say, JG, she
plank! Walk the plank! cried Captain Hook.
Ill give you a big surprise! You can
watch, too, JG! BWAAK!
was starting to get pissed.
guys, he shouted upstairs. I dont
know what youve been sayin to each
other and to that bird, but knock it off! Dont
make me sorry I sent you up there. Now, you get
that animal down here. Now! I dont want to
see any ruffled feathers, either. You read me?
that, Cap'n, replied JG.
Ten-four, Good Buddy! acknowledged Captain
A few minutes
later, Suzy had positioned the rake handle to
rest on the branch, within a few inches of
Captain Hooks feet. The Captain eyed it
Captain Hook! Step on the pretty stick, now.
Mommy misses you. Well take you to mommy.
Henry! Take me. Take me now! Im yours.
turned -- both in the air, and on the ground.
Down below, Sam said out loud what was on
turned bright red; she said quietly to Captain OReilly,
entitled to a little male companionship once in
Captain Hook took a tentative step out onto the
rake handle. Before Suzy could get a firm bracing
on her end of the stick, however, Captain Hook
started sliding quickly over towards Suzy. The
sudden, shifting weight of the massive parrot
caused Suzy to nearly drop her end.
started to tumble; he flapped his wings as he
clung to the rake handle.
screamed Captain Hook. The parrot was now
flapping his wings madly. After a second or two,
Captain Hook let go of the handle. He started his
flight down in a slow, spiraling motion.
shouted JG to everyone, below.
All eyes were
glued on Captain Hook. Mrs. Fletcher felt as
though her heart had stopped beating altogether.
Captain OReilly wondered if theyd
have two casualties today -- her, and the bird.
The one-hundred-thousand-dollar question on
everyone's minds was: could the bird safely land
under its own power.
A few seconds
later, Captain Hook spiraled down onto the
shoulder of Mrs. Fletcher, who then promptly
Shes gone mental on us! Shes gone
mental on us! the Captain screamed.
hasnt, you bird-brain. Shes fainted,
Petey took off
his helmet; he stretched Mrs. Fletcher out on the
ground in the event that mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation was required. In the meantime, Joey
went to the truck to retrieve the smelling salt.
Kiss me, Henry. Kiss me tenderly, sweetly. BWAAK!
that bird is gonna drive me nuts! said
Suzy and JG
arrived back on the ground. They joined the other
crewmembers and Captain Hook, all hovered over
gonna be okay? asked Suzy.
pulse and respiration are normal, replied
Captain OReilly. I think Mrs.
Fletcher will be just fine. He added,
Do you two mind telling me what the hell
you were talkin' about, up there?
could respond, Captain Hook replied, BWAAK.
Take some lessons from him, Cap! Just shake the
damn branch! BWAAK! Just another bird job...