When I got home that night there was a trail of bloodied bodies all of the way up the garden path: tiny bush mice with brilliantly red guts and a bright wasp buzzing into them; a disturbingly large bird that had been tagged by a scientist, no doubt something rare and wondrous, was now dead on its back, and the air was sparkling with feathers.
The carnage was the work of Sebastian, my peacock. Sebastian is a first class serial killer, I’ll have you know. Absolutely merciless, but so precise. He separates the tiny backbones and tails from the mice and unwinds the intestines with his beak in the admirably detached, clinical manner for which Army Medics are given medals. I was curious what innocent tune the phoenix had dared to whistle whilst perched upon the clothesline to inspire Sebastian’s murderous vendetta. Peacocks can fly, did you know… well at least they can get off the ground high enough that you couldn’t really call it a ‘leap’. So Sebastian spends half of his time on his velvet day bed and the other half on the roof, watching over things. But he gets away with it, the most awful things, because he is so pretty.
“Sebastian!” I said, coming in. “You need to go and pick up that carnage. I have annoyed some vegans and they will no doubt be coming here shortly to protest me. And what do you think will happen if they get here and find a pile of dead animals up the garden path?!”
At this Sebastian, who was lying down, blood splattered and exhausted from the work, sort of opened & closed the fan of his tail feathers in the manner of someone magnificent giving me time to remember to whom I was speaking.
“Then you should probably hide the bodies before they come,” said Sebastian tiredly, and closed his old eyes.
“I’m not touching that filth, you cock. What do you think the vegans will do to you when they see that mess? They’ll call the RSPCA who’ll come and take you off me.”
“If you don’t want them to take me then you should clean it,” said Sebastian.
“Maybe I’ll just let them take you,” I said.
“Maybe it will be better for me if they do,” said Sebastian. “They’ve been writing me letters, asking if I’m okay.”
“You’re okay, Sebastian. You’re lying on a velvet daybed. You drink from a marble fountain that is filled with Chartreuse.”
“For that matter, I’ll have you know that I can’t stick the way you keep me here locked up like a toy, away from my naturalistic setting, and stuff me with fatty foods as tho you’re going to make pate from my liver. I suspect…!”
“And what, pray tell, is a peacock’s natural environment?” I had to ask. “I’ve never been bothered to find out. I don’t know how long you’d get by in the jungle with a tail like that. You might as well be walking around with an All You Can Eat sandwich board lit up in neon lights.”
“Besides,” I went on. “You won’t like it if the vegans take you. They’ll force you to walk around free range in the sunlight and live in a utopian commune with scraggy chickens. You won’t be the biggest cock there. Demented roosters will crow in your ear all night. You’ll catch avian flu dicking one of the water fowls. I know you too well. And, worst of all…” – this was the coup de grace – “They’ll spend all of their time telling you how wonderful and beautiful you are, which is an insult coming from someone who’ll wear hessian pants and brown sandals. Well I mean it doesn’t mean a lot if you’re being praised by someone who has no discernment.”
At this Sebastian sat up a bit. He had such mad eyes. This cheered me somewhat. I had started to make dinner, and went on chopping and chatting away. “Well anyway I have just been to the museum to see a little eagle taxidermised. If you don’t want to clean up the corpses, you should come here and help me with dinner instead. Then I’ll give the vegans something decent to complain about.”