It all starts when a parakeet is left at their door.
Every word is true.
Ricky was green. By that, I don’t mean he was untrained. In fact, he had an amazing vocabulary.
My husband, Dave, and I were in the kitchen having breakfast when the door bell rang. We looked at each other in a puzzled way, for we never got visitors so early in the morning. Dave shrugged and got up to answer it. Curious, I went into the hallway, but I didn’t hear a word of conversation. When he came into the hallway, he was carrying a birdcage with a parakeet clutching to the wooden bar across the cage.
I asked what was going on. I can still recall his exact words... “Beats me. No one was there. I looked down, and there was this bird swinging on its swing and chirping a song. I looked up and down the street. Didn’t see a soul.”
Well, the cage was brought into the kitchen and put on the table. Ricky spoke his first words. They were very clear, he said, “Ricky is a pretty boy.” I thought that was so cute that I asked Dave if we could keep him.
I was very happy when he nodded yes, since I get lonely when Dave’s not around. I don’t have any friends in the neighborhood and I rarely have a job.
Taking the cage into the living room, I put it on the coffee table and leaned real close. Ricky sauntered over on the bar and said, “Ricky is a pretty boy. What’s your name?”
I was astonished and couldn’t say a word until Dave said, “Don’t just sit there with your mouth open, Laura. Tell him your name.”
That irritated me, so I slapped his leg. Then, I said my name. Ricky replied, “Laura is a pretty girl.” Well, that just blew us away.
The days went by, and Ricky and I got real close. He was a good listener, for he would get up to the bars to get every word I said. It was a tremendous relief for me to unload all the stress and worry I had. I’m ashamed to say this, but one of them was a suspicion that Dave was fooling around with another woman. To that Ricky said, “I understand. We birds have the same problem.”
A few times I had noticed a whiff of perfume on Dave’s shirt. I never said anything to him, for I put it down to him bumping into women at the office, yet I couldn’t entirely put the evil thoughts out of my mind and mentioned it to Ricky. He said, “A likely story. Laura is a pretty girl.”
Then, one day, around a week ago, I felt dizzy after drinking a cup of coffee Dave had made for me. Dave must have noticed for he said, “Honey, what’s the matter? You look dazed.”
Well, I did and I told him so. He offered me some medicine he takes for his headaches, but I told him I would just go to bed. He accompanied me to the bedroom. I remember him taking a good look at me before turning off the lights.
The next morning, I woke up late. Dave had already gone to work, but he had left a pot of coffee for me. I started pouring some into my cup when Ricky said, “Ricky is a pretty boy. I wouldn’t drink that if I were you.” Well, that took me back. I sniffed the coffee. It smelt okay. I took a sip. It tasted the same as the coffee I had had the night before. I just laughed at myself for thinking Dave would put something into my coffee. I gradually drank that pot of coffee as I did the housework. Despite the caffeine, I got so sleepy in the afternoon that I fell asleep on the couch and dreamt.
It was very vivid and strange. Steamy and dark was how I would describe it. Sweat was pouring down my face and chest. There were all kinds of chirping and chittering nearby and howling and roaring in the distance. There was the smell of dead leaves and rotten worms. I heard a familiar voice, and looked up into the arms of a huge tree. Ricky was gazing down on me. As I called out his name, he swooped down. When he landed on my shoulder, an array of cards appeared face down on the jungle floor.
I bent down and flipped one over. It showed a young couple. The words The Lovers were at the top. I flipped another one over. It was a person, a man or woman, I couldn’t tell, seemingly without a care in the world. The words said The Fool. I flipped over another one. It was Death. Aghast, I withdrew my shaking hand. It was then that Ricky hopped down from my shoulder, and with his beak turned over the next card. It was a man impaled with swords.
I jolted awake and bent over gasping. For long minutes, I sat there nauseated. Yet, even then, I wouldn’t accept it until I went to the washing machine, grabbed Dave’s shirt, and smelt that awful perfume.
That evening I hid the hunting knife I had purchased under the pillow. As I lay next to Dave, waiting for him to fall asleep, I could feel the hard hilt under my head. Soon, everything would end. Why did he betray me? Why did he want me dead? I had done nothing, nor had I neglected to do anything to deserve this.
Keith Bowman put the letter down. He stared at his client through the thick glass between them, then said, "Laura, my counsel is to enter a plea for clemency due to temporary insanity."
Laura placed a hand on the glass. "Thank goodness. I was afraid you would blame Ricky. He was just a friend who saved me from a worst fate."
Keith smiled and thought you can never know exactly when one goes crazy.