Lucy began shrieking in terror near her fifth-floor office window, while the city basked in a perfect, sunny afternoon.
“Put a lid on that bird,” a man said, “I’m trying to take my nap.” Men and women chuckled at glowing computer screens. All forty cubicles stirred. Some co-workers seemed concerned, others annoyed. Lucy was normally a polite, soft-spoken cockatiel, and everyone’s friend.
Lucy’s owner, Jack Martin, walked around his desk. “What’s the matter, Lucy?” He flicked a speck of white down from her dish. “Your water is full.” Was her crippled wing bothering her again? Jack stroked the soft, warm hump of her back, but she cried all the more. “Are you upset about something, baby?” He was tall, dark-haired, 30, and single. He wore dark trousers, and a white shirt with its sleeves rolled up above his elbows, revealing wiry forearms to match washboard abs. His jacket hung on a hook nearby, along with 9 mm Glock, spare clips, and handcuffs.
Lucy’s shrieks tore through the busy, dusky atmosphere of the Case Scoring and Review Division, Department of Veterans Affairs. The Division weeded out crooks among veterans receiving disability compensation. Its small enforcement group carried guns, badges, and cuffs, like fellow special agents of the FBI and other Federal agencies.
Director Hot-Shit-Suit, returning from a long lunch, turned her ornate Egyptian-like head, and said in a bronzed aura of Jones New York cologne and Vuitton leather: “What’s with that damn bird?”
Jack ignored her and checked Lucy’s food tray, which was full of fresh seeds. “What are you trying to tell us, Lucy?”
Director said: “Mr. Martin, This is a work place. I’m going to strangle that bird if she doesn’t keep quiet.” Director’s face was sphinx-like, with tight, sharp lips. Her cheek dimples hinted of secret amusement.
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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.