I have a knack for finding dead or dying things by my mailbox. If you’ve been following my blog, or if you’ve read my books, you’ve read of Kismet. If not, she’s an ugly bitch of a kitten I found mauled and close to death on the ground by said mailbox a few Halloweens ago. I have this latent flaw deep in my emotional foundation which causes me to anthropomorphize pathetic creatures. I don’t yet fully understand it, but when I see something weak mewling at my feet, I see myself. I see redemption lying there, covered in blood and desperation, and maybe if I can save it, I can save myself. The urge is a palpable constriction in my chest. That kitten brought tears to my eyes and milked hundreds of dollars out of my wallet. I spared her, and to this day, she hates me. She’s since spawned her own brood, and now a whole new progeny of my flaw is running feral through the desert as a testament to that which dwells in my head.
A few weeks back, as I walked up to my mailbox, a hummingbird tried to attack me. At least that’s what it felt like. The little bastard flew at my face with his lance of a beak and nearly skewered my eyeball. I shooed him away with a manly scream and a flick of my hand. He left. I turned and got my mail, but as I walked back to my truck, I saw him on the ground, teetering on a precipice of consciousness, in nearly the exact same place I found Kismet. So of course, my chest got tight. There’s nothing frailer than a hummingbird. And this one, mostly black wearing a band of shimmering purple feathers like a breast plate, pierced something far more vulnerable than my eyeball with his lance.
I picked him up. He was lighter than I expected a living thing could be, almost as if I held feather covered nothingness. I could see the thing in my hand, but it felt as if he didn’t exist. He looked at me with his black orb eyes. I crumbled. I ran quickly to my truck and got a water bottle. I took off the green lid and filled it with a bit of water. Upon my hand I set it. I inched it closer and closer to his head until finally, he stuck in his beak and took a few drinks. His dart like tongue flickered in and out just below the water’s surface. Little plumes of blood blossomed in the water as he drank. His beak was such a fragile thing. How had I considered it to be a lance? This was no weapon he wielded. This little thing couldn’t hurt me. What could be the harm in holding it?
He tried to fly and made it aloft into the air for a few moments before crashing back down. I picked him back up. I offered more water. He looked at me. His little lids narrowed into a distrusting squint. Son of a bitch; that little humming bird hated me just as much as Kismet did. Damn it, I was only trying to help. I had no idea how to fix hummingbirds. For fuck’s sake, I didn’t even know how to fix myself. Why couldn’t he just drink and then be free? I could’ve gone home where I belonged. He could’ve flown off and spawned a whole squadron of lance wielding asshole hummingbirds. But I kept trying anyway. Every time I picked him up and offered water, he’d fly a little farther. On the fourth time, I took him into a shady copse of trees which was much further away from my truck than I should’ve walked. He fluttered around in the air with humming wings for about ten seconds before landing on a bush. He was a remote control helicopter with dead batteries. And still, as he perched on what would soon be tumbleweed, he looked at me with those tiny baneful eyes. I knew he was going to die, all I did was try to help, and this is what I got. You know what? I hate that hummingbird too. I hate my inside, I hate the part which makes me want to help, I hate that which makes me need it. I walked away. After it was all over, all I had to show for it was a few pictures and an ample quota of sadness.
I got back into my truck and tried to head home. I’m still driving. I’ve learned that you can’t make a loving pet out of Kismet. I’ve learned that some things are best left where they lie. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t externalize that flaw because it can’t be filled by veterinary bills or misplaced sentiment; I’m learning to fix myself. And now, I’ve adopted a policy held to fast by the hotel in which I’m typing this: No Pets Allowed.