The Wise Turkey Encounters a Mysterious Squeaking

It was on a night just like last Wednesday, early spring, a very chilly and wet night just after a few warm ones. The Wise Turkey was preparing himself for bed, having rinsed mud from his muddy gardening boots and hung them on a peg in the pantry, then taking a small dinner of seeds and bread, brushing his feathers carefully to clean out the mud and pollen, and climbing the stairs of the house to his room.

He had sipped some water and sat down on the edge of the bed. Listening to the creak of the springs in the old bed, he noted they somehow sounded different. He paused, motionless, and the creaking and scratching continued briefly, then stopped. He thought for a moment---Wise Turkeys are pensive like that, always conjecturing an explanation for anything out of the ordinary---bed springs don't do things like that, at least these springs never did before.

After a moment, and a heavy eyelid or two, he thought better of it and swung one skinny, clawed leg up on the bed. The creaking and scratching resumed. He paused, motionless again, straining his hearing. Yes, he was not mistaken.

He bounced, lightly, once on the bed. The unusual sound was not coming from his bed. It was coming from the wall. He cranked his eyelids as wide open as he could. Silently, he lowered his leg to the floor and stood, then crept to the window. He reached to the sill of the window and brushed it with his wing, softly at first then harder, until it made a gentle squeak.

Another squeak came in reply, outside the window.

He slid the window open slowly, and carefully stuck his head out to look.

There in the gloom, above and toward the south-eastern corner of the house, three dark forms hung under the eave of the roof. One large, two smaller on either side of it, like three black leathery bells hanging there in the dark.

The Wise Turkey brushed his wing against the sill once more, and he heard the strange sound once again, though it was barely a sound, it was more like a click that happened so fast he could barely hear it. Ben and Doug, the old men who lived with him in the house, would never have heard it because they were humans, and they were old. Old humans don't hear high-pitched sounds as well as young ones, you see, and there are sounds even young ones can't hear.

Then he saw two tiny points of light open at the bottom of the large thing in the middle. They blinked. They were eyes, and the eyes were looking directly at him.

You probably know what those dark hanging forms are by now.

The large middle one stretched wide with leathery wings taut between fine bones like the fingers of a hand. The two smaller ones slid closer to the large one and climbed from the eave to its side. Then they squeaked again, in tiny, weak voices.

As his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he could see that they were nuzzling their tiny noses into the fur of their mother's belly. Moments later, they squeaked again and shivered.

Wise turkeys, as I already told you, tend to figure things out if they are disturbed or if they think any kind of suffering is going on. And these bats were clearly suffering.

The warmth of spring had called these bats out from their winter sleep, and had offered many flies and moths for them to eat. But the cold snap of this night had cut short the bats' anxious feeding too soon after coming out of hibernation.

Soon, the Wise Turkey knew what he would do.

There had been peaches for sale at the market several days ago, brought over the mountains by his friend the Elk, from a land where the seasons are ahead of ours here and peaches have already ripened and the trees are preparing themselves for winter.

He had bought some. The peaches were in a colander on the kitchen table, and some were overripe. He remembered that at dinner he had seen, out of the corner of his eye, that fruit flies had begun circling over the peaches.

He pulled his nightshirt over himself, stepped his claws into slippers, and padded downstairs to retrieve them. He also brought a tray and a lamp.

Still very quietly, he slid the tray into the open window, wedging it so it would bear the weight of the peaches and the lamp without falling either out or in. The colander of peaches, with fruit flies looping around it, was on the end of the tray that hung outside, and the lamp balanced it at the end inside the bedroom. Then the Wise Turkey sat softly again on the edge of his bed, letting a few squeaks rise from the mattress into the tangy cold air that was entering through the window, and he watched.

After a few minutes, more scratching and more squeaking, then silence, as the Wise Turkey watched the flies and the peaches in the flicker of the lamp. Soon enough there flew a dark form, too fast to see except as a shadow that darted between the lamp and the colander full of overripe peaches. It made no noise, none at all---wait, here and there were faint clicks, like the sound of one fingernail tapping another, or like the breaking of a thread drawn too tight.

His eyelids again became heavy and he could see the darting shadow no more. The peaches were now as cold as the night air, and no more fruit flies stirred over them. The oil of the lamp had burned low. He brought the tray in and set it aside, then looked out again to the eave.

The two babies were attached to their mother's belly, and her wings were folded over them. Her eyes looked directly at him, then blinked once, twice, and closed slowly as if she too were drowsy.

He slid the window shut and took the peaches back downstairs.

Then he took a paring knife, peeled a peach, cut away the brown spots of its flesh, separated the flesh from the pit, and ate it slowly.

And then he went to bed.

Fûzboat replaced

An '02 four-door Malibu with V6, everything power except seats. No stone chips.

I probably got taken to the cleaners: I got $825 for the Taurus with the hemorrhaging transmission, and paid about $250 less than their asking.

But I wasn't followed into the parking lot by a hustler and endured no good-cop-bad-cop routines between the salesman and his manager.

The finance guy needs new software though, or a new printer that registers consistently on his forms. It took longer to do the paperwork than to close the deal.

Paging Mr Rummel, Mr James Rummel

I wouldn't wish a random act of violence on anyone. But maybe someone's heart can be changed and some good come of it.

Surely Mr Rummel could fit in a new CCW student.

Oooops. Never mind.


Quote for the day

Witch hunts are unambiguously bad because we know there are no witches.

Eugene Volokh, whose blog is not an opinion blog.


Go tell them they're wrong, please

Grim asks me to pass along to all dozen of my readers, that DoD is taking comments on a proposed rule that would prohibit civilian contractors in deployed areas (such as Iraq) from arming themselves.

This has ramifications for life here in the peaceable Republic. Go now and comment, please.

blotter stuff

The Cabinet Man is alive and well, has not been interned for reeducation by his anointed betters in Maryland for dissing their CCW process, and is considering a new main battle rifle. Please show him the love in the comments section, readers, to encourage him to post something new.

* * * *

You might be interested to know that we named our children according to a system. This system was not laid down in advance so much as the order emerged, and as more children were added we noticed which rules were laid down and followed them.

At least one name, first or middle, is taken from someone else in the family. No surprise there.

Girls' names follow a rhythm of dah dit dit dah ("open the door") and boys' follow dah dit dah dit ("have a cookie").

Firstborn's non-family-originated name was after my second-grade teacher.

Middlechild's non-family-originated name is from B. B. King's guitar.

Both of Boy's names are from family, either my grandfather or Barbaloot's father. We thought he'd be an only boy (hence "Boy") and the double family name.

Oh we were mistaken. Toad gets a middle name from my father.

* * * *

The Fûzboat is being replaced. At 100k miles and an irreparable transaxle leak, its movements are easily traced by satellite. It leaves "C"-shaped puddles of warm cherry-red oil wherever it is parked. Much of this oil also is blown back to the catalytic converter, where it turns to smoke. We think the leak comes from an axle seal damaged when we slid the front curb-side wheel into a curb on a patch of ice. It put a nice crack in the transaxle case too, but another Twenty-first Century shmoo, J-B Weld, closed that up handily.

Rather than face the nasty one-time hit of depreciation that comes with driving a new car off the lot, we're pricing cars from a rental fleet. Hello Malibu. Or Intrepid. Or Impala. Or Taurus. I'm torn.

* * * *

Toad carries around about 12 pounds and is round, full, and very smiley. He gives us six hours of uninterrupted sleep, and it's time to reassemble the crib in Boy's room for him.

* * * *

I make up stories to tell my daughters as I drive them around to swimming lessons, occupational therapy, or a grocery trip. Firstborn asks for a Wise Turkey story. They are made up on the spot ("It was on an evening just like this one, in early spring, a cold night after two very warm ones . . . "). The very first Wise Turkey story took several grocery trips and a Christmas shopping trip or two to tell, and carries an epic quality. Unfortunately it will be difficult to recall and post here, but I'll try.

Maybe Mamamontezz would be up for illustrating them?

* * * *

Speaking of illustrating, I visited a Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America last weekend, prior to returning from a TDY at Undisclosed Combat Readiness Training Center, and scanned the Art section. I grabbed one on drawing manga. Firstborn is fascinated.

Roger that, big time

How refreshing that somebody goes public in support of the return to legislative appointment, rather than election, of Senators:

Zell Miller: Dump 17th Amendment

Just as only Nixon could go to China, I think only a former Senator could so boldly suggest a move.

Again, how damned refreshing. When the State legislatures resume appointing Senators, then they can resume recalling them too.


Used to work for one of these

StrategyPage has a l337l3 post on theater air control squadrons (scroll as needed to 28 Apr 04). I used to be a one-deep readiness shop in one of these units for a loooong time.

I dispute that there's anything really "high tech" about them. And they aren't all that portable. By the time the several tons of TPS-75 radar on six prime movers is packaged with the rest of its operations, maintenance, and support people and all of their gear, it gets closer to 25 vehicles and 100-plus officers and enlisted. Break them into A and B shifts and put them somewhere outside the protective layer of SFs that usually accompany a forward operating location, and they'll look rather skinny and vulnerable.

But I thought that most of these units (including my own) were disbanded in the last few years, partly because their nifty new Modular Control Equipment---computerized, networked radar screens---weren't Y2K compliant. Maybe by now they've figured out how to use Sun workstations instead.


If pack is preferable to herd, we need claws

Bruce Hershensohn joined Bill Bennett's radio show today as a guest. In his closing remarks, about the likelihood of another terrorist attack against the US and timed to influence the general elections, he made a strong point that it will not be enough for us to survive through this period. We will have to win. We will have to prevail.

I was tracking him on this point. He continued: we will have to give Mideast terror groups a resounding defeat, so our children and grandchildren can someday enter a Federal building without having to navigate the concrete planters and metal detectors. I was tracking him even better. He wants future Americans to not have to suffer the indignities of airport searches. Wow. I liked his line of argument better still.

Then he used the word inconveniences to describe all of these antiterrorism measures that he hoped one day would no longer be necessary because of the sound defeat of the parties these measures are deployed to deter.

He lost me right there.

It is not a fscking inconvenience that I can no longer carry a folding knife aboard an aircraft, a common practice of mine and many others before the World Trade Center was leveled. We are not merely discommodated by having to either check that knife in luggage or leave it at home. A few stout folding knives, in the hands of ordinary passengers, could have turned that attack from three thousand deaths and an American economy held breathless for days, to the loss of just the plane and the souls aboard it, possibly even to recovering control of the cockpit. We've seen that ordinary people can and will do the extraordinary, even to kill themselves while foiling an attempt to convert an airliner into a cruise missile. Public policy must not interfere with people rising to the extraordinary occasion.

Public policy in this case actually prolongs our vulnerability to terror, pushing farther into the future any day when we can forklift the giant planters away from the Federal building and stop wanding grandmas in the airport, and release the TSA screeners to the economy to pursue useful work.

If instead of a terrorist capture of the plane, there is a mishap, and the crew manages to land the plane in some remote, Godforsaken country with a few souls still alive, I'll need that folding knife, and that Swiss Army knife, both regular companions of mine, whether to extract passengers from the wreckage, or break into luggage, or improvise shelter until help arrives. My fellow passengers might need them if I'm dead, and they're welcome to rummage my pockets to find them.

Giving up those knives is not a mere inconvenience, Mr. Hershensohn. It's helplessness, and nobody is made safer by being rendered helpless. This helplessness is imposed upon all of us by people who see their responsibility not in my safety, but in the smooth operation of a gigantic nation-state bent on preserving itself. We are mere resources for that state to expend; in that respect they are little better than al Qaeda sending hopeless twits to detonate themselves among us.

A critic could infer that, by my reasoning, we ought to allow people to carry guns aboard aircraft too.

Well, glad you asked: yes, we should. Not just pilots, and not just after said pilots have effectively been nationalized as Federal law enforcement officers. But we have to crawl before we can walk, walk before we can run. Restoring edged weapons would confer no disproportionate advantage to the boarding terrorist. There will be more than enough of us Retrosexuals bringing ours along again.

Letting the very cold air of reality hit every man's and woman's face will brace us as a people for the task before us. We cannot prevail as a nation, in a conflict against a stateless Islamist underworld, unless their ultimate target, the weakling, is denied them. We'll do our part, but our laws must not put obstacles before us.