“How was your winter?” Herbert Mortle asked Nevermore, as the raven preened himself on his perch out by the Liars Bunch’s Bench.
The bird had just opened his beak to answer when an insistent muffled beeping was heard.
“Excuse me for a moment, Herb.”
The Bunch watched in amazement as the great bird pulled a cell phone from under his wing. Head cocked, he listened for a moment before replying with a raucous cawing. He snapped the phone shut.
“Cousin Jack just got out of prison in Texas!”
“What was he in for?”
“Being a bird. They had him in some kind of a pet store in a strip-mall near Lubbock. I guess he got out when the bears ate the store’s owner and broke down the door.”
A woman came over with a young child to gaze at the crow and offer him bits of their lunch, “Hoosier Eggrolls,” a tortilla wrapped around a tasty mixture of meat and canned vegetables “biled down” to a flavorful paste, somewhat like humus without the texture. It came straight from Aunt Allie Gator’s Country Cook Book.
“Pretty bird,” said the woman. “Can you say, thank you? Come on, can you say thank you?”
“Pretty bird,” echoed the child with a look of wonderment on his face. “Say, pretty bird!”
“Can the Canola, m’am. I can speak six languages including Latin and Portugee. Gimmee some more of them tasty eats.”
“He’s not much for manners,” Cap Anslinger admitted to the shocked mother from the Liars Bunch’s Bench. “We wouldn’t have him around but he’s a born liar.”
“Heh,” laughed the bird. “Like you could tell.” Nevermore pulled out his phone and punched the quick dial. “Just checking the weather,” he said. “I’m heading over to Goosetown this afternoon and don’t want to get wet.”
“Ain’t you special?”
“Hey, any of you guys heading that way? Maybe I could hitch a ride?”
“Not after what you did to my seats the last time I took you anywhere!”
“It’s not my fault you had a rat hiding in there!”
“It was an itty bitty field mouse and I’m talking about what happened after you ate him.”
“Quoth the raven, nevermore!” The large bird laughed. “I never did care for the taste for fresh meat. If you had only shared your sandwich like I asked, it never would have happened.”
I can’t connect you if you aren’t already connected.
—anonymous phone employee
The Liars Bunch didn’t see much of Nevermore that summer and when they did he was usually talking on his phone. Then the raven acquired a Palm Pilot and could be seen flying awkwardly overhead as if under a heavy load. When he got an MP3 player the burden became too great. Nevermore was grounded by owning too much stuff. He also had a battery recharger and needed a dependable electrical outlet. Soon he had a broad band Internet connection put in and erected a satellite dish for his television.
Well, it wasn’t long before a raven-feathered beauty moved in and soon after the sound of little Nevermores cheeped from inside his trailer on the south side of town.
One day that fall he showed up again at the Liars Bunch’s Bench.
“Haven’t seen you around here much,” said W. Ofield.
“Yeah, I’ve been taking care of the family. But now Ace and Bob and Tilda and Cletus have grown up and moved on.”
“Where’s the wife?”
“She moved on, too.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” W. replied, a mite embarrassed. Where’s your phone?”
If a raven could blush he would have. “Aw, she got all those things in the settlement,” he confessed, rising into the sky.
“Quoth the raven, Nevermore,” he cawed as he gyred away.