The sunrise broke through the morning grayness. Connor rose from his bed and stepped toward the window. He stretched and scratched and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. The birds that had perched in the tree out front were chirping a morning song above the grumbling sounds of traffic grinding through the city streets. Connor felt a sudden urge to call in sick and enjoy the daylight instead of suffer through another office cubicle hell.
“Call in well,” Connor mused out loud.
He grabbed his phone from the dresser and started dialing the number for his boss. He stopped before pressing the call button. He started to wonder if calling in well was the right thing to do. He had responsibilities at work that needed his attention. Then again, this beautiful day needed his attention too. He put the phone down and looked at the clock on the wall. He still had an hour to make up his mind. He didn’t much feel like waiting for the bus and mashing up against all the other wage slaves. The bus stop was right in front of his place, but it was such a long bus ride. The birds chirped again and Connor looked back out the window at them.
There were nearly a dozen birds perched on several branches. They weren’t spread out too far from each other nor were they right on top of each other. They were curious looking birds though. Connor didn’t recognize them as sparrows or robins. They had a curious greenish hue to their plumage. It was something Connor never noticed before. He’d heard the birds tweeting often, usually at four o’clock in the morning, just loud enough to remind him that he had been out too late that night at the bar. The chirping was usually the noise that let him know he’d made a terrible mistake. But he’d never actually seen them until this morning.
Connor looked at his phone again and considered his options. He could start his St. Patrick’s Day celebration a bit early if he called in. Maybe he could convince Susan to play hooky with him and they could do a little day drinking or find a way to amuse each other on this slightly warming late winter’s day. He smiled at the thought of convincing her to come over and lie about with her in bed, tickling her and kissing her neck a little as they lay together. But then his thoughts switched back to his damn cubicle and the work that was there waiting for him. The terrible commute also weighed on his thoughts.
“Screw it,” said Connor as he picked up his cell phone and dialed his boss.
The phone rang and Connor practiced his sore throat voice. He sniffled to make it sound like his nose was congested. His boss answered on the fourth ring.
“Hey Mr. Raljapour, it’s Connor”.
“Yes,” said Mr. Raljapour.
“I’m calling in sick. I seem to have caught a little bug or something, and I don’t want to spread it around,” said Connor.
Mr. Raljapour sighed heavily.
“Are you sure you can’t make it today,” asked Mr. Raljapour.
“Yeah. (Sniffle) I’m just not feeling up to it today,” said Connor.
“Alright, feel better, we’ll see you on Monday,” said Mr. Raljapour.
“Thanks. I will see you Monday”.
Connor hung up the phone and did a little jig. There was something about playing hooky that gave Connor a curious sense of joy. It was like getting away with something without any real consequences. Plus he didn’t have to deal with the damn bus or the other annoying commuters. He looked out at the birds perched on the tree outside.
“Looks like we’ll get to spend a little more time together today my feathered friends,” said Connor.
The birds perched on the tree limb all turned and faced Connor. Their little beady eyes stared straight at him and Connor took a step back.
“Whoa. Holy mother,” said Connor.
He took a few cautious steps toward the window and looked back at the greenish colored birds. They were still staring back at him. They were still and silent and looking right at him.
“Ooooo-kaaay,” said Connor.
Connor looked away from the window and remembered he wanted to see if Susan would play Friday hooky with him. He called her number. He was all ready to go into a playful back and forth, a shameless flirting he hoped would convince her to drop her shift at the salon and play with him all day. Her voicemail picked up and Connor’s heart dropped a little. Her voice was so cute on the outgoing message.
“Hey Susan, it’s Connor. I decided to play hooky today, maybe get a little head start on St. Patrick’s Day. I thought you might like to play hooky with me and hang out or whatever. So call me back and let’s play. Talk to you soon.”
He hung the phone up and frowned a little. He’d gotten his hopes up that Susan would answer the phone and would be dying to spend the day with him. He started to think that was unrealistic now. Still, he was free from the bonds of work and could write his own ticket today.
He looked back toward the strange birds perched outside. Three of them were now perched on his window ledge. They were still looking in on him. They seemed larger than they looked when they were perched on the tree branch. Connor thought about trying to shoo them away. They seemed a little aggressive to him now.
Connor turned toward the bathroom and figured he might as well start getting cleaned up for the day. The bar opened at ten and he figured that if he cleaned up now, ran to the bank, and then to the convenience store for cigarettes he’d be ready by noon for lunch and a few daytime cocktails. He liked the bar in the daytime. There was a certain element of fun with sitting in the daytime with a cold drink. He wasn’t sure why it was fun; he just enjoyed the relaxed nature of it. It suited his character.
He checked his phone to see if Susan texted or phoned him back. He was still deeply hoping she’d come out to hang with him. He really liked her and hoped she felt the same way. No messages, no texts from Susan. Connor sighed and pouted slightly, but the day would go on.
Connor was startled when he heard a heavy thud hit the window. He spun around and looked at the three birds perched on the window ledge. All three, in unison, were banging their heads against the window pane. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
“Hey,” yelled Connor and he walked up the window and banged the glass with his hand. The birds didn’t stop. They kept hitting the glass with their heads and beaks. Their greenish wings were slightly unfurled and they continued to hit the glass. Thud. Thud. Thud.
“Quit it, you damn birds,” said Connor.
The birds stopped suddenly and all three looked out toward their left, at the street below. Connor followed their gaze to the bus stop. The bus stop Connor stood at every morning waiting for the bus. He heard tires squealing from around the corner and the sound of a crash. A car barreled through the bus stop kiosk smashing everything to bits. Glass and metal shattered in all directions, like a bomb had hit it. The car flipped over on its side and flames licked out from under the hood as it skidded to a stop on the sidewalk behind the destroyed bus stop kiosk. Cars swerved and crashed around this accident and a truck slammed into a car stuck in the intersection pushing it into three other cars.
“Holy Shit,” exclaimed Connor, “that could have been me!”
Connor looked down at the window ledge and the three birds were gone. The birds that had been perched in the tree were also gone.
“Holy cow. Thank you St. Patrick,” said Connor.