I Was Attacked by a Beautiful Psycho Killer and Lived!
It was a Saturday morning in late July. My buddy Ray showed up, tragically bored. Before long we were hopped up on caffeine and had decided to drive to Oregon. Because we were 20. We made sure we properly prepared, though, shoving spare underwear and cereal into a well-crafted travel container (cardboard box). We hit the road ten minutes after we’d decided to go. Because we were 20.
Fourteen hours later we rolled into the parking lot of Lake Siskiyou near Mt. Shasta. We parked in darkness and crawled into the back of my Chevy Vega to sleep. Just before drifting off, I heard a hideous, otherworldly scream. Disembodied Siskiyou spirits?
Night fled. A honeyed-orange sun pierced the darkness, burning majestic Mt. Shasta’s image onto the lake before us, and onto my memory. I sat on the hood of the Vega, eating Cheerios, in awe of the paradisiacal sight. I was an atheist at the time (though beginning to doubt my doubts), but I remember thinking, Explain this, Darwin. There was something intentional about that view.
My reverie was broken by a scream like the one I’d heard the night before. I adjusted my gaze and saw, to my astonishment, a spectacular seven foot wide feathered fan.
It was a peacock, as in a male of the peafowl species. Ray dubbed him “Joan.” Joan and his harem, who looked out of place this side of Iran, were parking lot panhandlers. A stiff shake of the feathers meant, “Will flash for food.”
So I tossed him a Cheerio. He snatched it out of the air. Then another. And another. The wives laid back, picking up cast-offs, but Joan wide-received at least two dozen passes before I slid off the car hood and began packing.
After gathering up everything we’d tossed out of the car the night before to make room for our sleeping bags, I walked back toward the hatch, clutching the big cardboard box.
Suddenly the world exploded. Nails pierced my arms. Huge objects pummeled the sides of my head. A railway spike drove at my eyes, bent on shish-ka-bobbing them! What the…?
It was Joan. I have no idea what set him off. Mating season? Presumed cardboard box assault? Some unintended Persian insult? I had no choice but to defend myself or wander blind forever, blood streaming from Oedipal eye sockets.
So I punched him in the face.
I don’t take pleasure in abusing birds. Foreign or domestic. But it was punch or be impaled. Joan lay stunned on the ground for a moment, then jumped up, ready for more, his head bobbing menacingly. The winner, presumably, would get the harem.
I walked away. Joan hurled insults at me (“Pea runt! Pea chicken!”). I felt like Edward Norton.
Joan was not the only creature who ever scarred me.
But he was probably the prettiest.
Compared to Joan’s attack, this is tea and freakin’ crumpets: