The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: Day 2 — Birds On Strike!

Note to Readers– This is Part Two of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can Catch Up Here.


As you may recall, three Ostriches who appeared seemingly out of nowhere while seeking story roles in the Little Red Bear stories yesterday, became very upset and offended over some unintentional comments made by Little Red Bear about their being flightless.

During the interview to discuss their inclusion in one or more of the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories and the roles they might play, things became rather heated between Little Red Bear and the ostriches. One word led to another and they threatened to walk out. Which they ultimately did.

But not before several more heated words were exchanged by both sides. Whispered comments I ruefully made to Little Red Bear about ‘sashaying’ and ‘strutting like peacocks’ were overheard as they went back down the path, which only seemed to anger them more.

Leaving the cabin, one of the ostriches had motioned towards a little teddy bear sign which I have hanging on the wall of the cabin, with the message “Don’t Feed the Bears, They’re Stuffed!”

The ostrich laughed and then mockingly implied the sign was referring to Little Red Bear because he was stuffed chockablock full with “Honey Fat” and, well—you can only imagine how that was received by Red.

When they departed and had ventured out of sight around the bend, I figured that would pretty much be the last of it, no ostriches in the stories. We had not been planning to add ostriches anyway. They are the ones who approached us to be in the stories.

To be honest, Little Red Bear and I have over forty Story Character job applications from other bird species wanting to be included, with more coming in daily, what with it being Spring now and the bluebirds, barn swallows, goldfinches, wrens and others arriving back from winter migrations. So, if the ostriches chose not to take part – so be it – and figured that was the end of it – “So long, thanks for coming.”

Heading downstairs to make breakfast this morning, the ostriches were nowhere in mind, having assumed that they would have simply returned to wherever it was they had come from.

I wished a “Good morning!” to Little Red Bear, already seated at the table, but with his head supported on his paws and not looking his normally cheerful self. The only reply I received in return was more of a grumble – “Grruummpphh.”

“What’s up with you this morning, Red?”

“Oh, you’ll see when you step outside.”

As I had been awoken by thunder rolling thru Hopper’s Holler below and it being an overcast, gloomy and rainy morning, I assumed Red’s rather glum response was more of a reflection of the weather conditions than anything else. We had planned an outdoor writing activity for the day, you see.

As every morning, I routinely placed the tea kettle on the stove to heat for breakfast tea, and stepped outside onto the front porch for my morning regimen of deep breathing exercises in the fresh morning air while the water heated to boiling.

And then, there they were – the three ostriches – picketing in front of the cabin – in the rain!

As it turns out, ostriches are not only somewhat difficult to deal with, but also resolutely single-minded in purpose. Angered, doubly so.

The largest ostrich, and most vocal in the meetings, was carrying a large sign, white with bold red letters which read – “ON STRIKE – UNFAIR TO FLIGHTLESS AVIANS!”

The second was carrying another sign which read – “FLY OR NOT – OSTRICHES ARE BIRDS, TOO!”  He was jauntily bouncing the sign up and down as he paced back and forth in line with the others across the yard.

The third, smallest of the three, was not toting a sign, but instead wearing an old-fashioned placard around his neck which on the front read – “LITTLE RED BEAR IS FAT AND SMELLS BAD!” – and when he turned around, on the back – “LITTLE RED BEAR’S MOTHER WAS AN UGLY ROOSTER!”

Now folks, I must admit, we can’t really figure that last one out either. Unless the ostriches got confused about hens and roosters, trying to imply that Little Red Bear is part bird, but that’s absurd.

Glancing around, there were “Don’t Feed the Bear” posters plastered everywhere – on the trees, fence posts and all over the front porch and walls of the cabin.

“Hey, y’all!” I called out, “I’m  fixin’ to put breakfast on. Why don’t y’all come on inside, out of the rain, get something to eat, and we’ll all sit down and try to talk this thing through?”

The only response came from the largest ostrich, again with that same (what I assume to be) obscene wing gesture he threw back at me yesterday. “Okay, then,” I muttered to myself.  “Have it your way.”

Coming back inside the cabin, I now understood why Little Red Bear was rather crestfallen, still sitting dispirited at the table, head in paws.

“Well, it’s raining anyway, Red,” I began, seeking to cheer him up. “Let’s just do our writing work inside today. If we don’t pay the ostriches any attention, I’m sure they will soon get bored and tired of just walking around in the rain, and then go on about their way. Whattaya say? Let’s just ignore them. ‘Don’t feed the trolls’, as they say.”

We prepared breakfast, which we (not being trolls) ate quietly at the table with no disruption. Shortly after, with a nice, quick little breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, pancakes, blueberry muffins, oatmeal, grits, cornbread, hashbrowns, bananas, half a dozen biscuits with honey, an orange, and two cups of English Breakfast Tea now inside him, Little Red Bear had perked up considerably and we were working on the “Sir Snapsalot” story together, for Red’s first story collection.

Outside, the soft morning rain continued, with the relaxing pit-pat, pit-pat, pit-pat drips off the porch roof splashing lightly onto the ground in front. On the hill behind the cabin, a song sparrow was singing, despite the light rain, and another distant thunder murmured softly over the holler. All in all, a beautiful spring morning for work and writing.

Then things took a turn. We heard it. There was no point at all in pretending that we hadn’t.

Little Red Bear and I both stopped working and simply looked at each other, each hoping the other might be able to possibly deny what we had so clearly and undeniably heard with our own ears, or at least have something intelligent to offer about it. Dumbfounded, we simply listened.

From outside and thru the half-open window, we could hear the ostriches begin chanting in unison at the top of their voices –

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

“Really?” I said out loud. “They haven’t left yet?”

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

“What did we do to deserve this?” Little Red Bear rhetorically asked of anyone who might respond, head tilted back and looking forlornly up at the ceiling. No one answered back of course, as we had requested the resident ghosts to relocate a few months before when it became apparent that they had begun keeping very different sleeping schedules than ours.

“I suppose maybe you should have simply apologized for your ‘flightless’ comment yesterday when they asked for it,” I finally responded, somehow feeling compelled to say something while pointing out the obvious. “Any time that we have a choice of being right or being kind, always choose kind. You know that.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know. But they didn’t ask,” Little Red Bear corrected. “They demanded. Neither you or me respond well to orders and demands. And you know that. That’s one thing you and I have in common – a wild, unfettered, independent spirit.”

“Yeah Red, I do know that. And it does sound better when you put it that way. As opposed to simply being prideful and stubborn. But unfortunately, the ostriches didn’t know about our unbridled independent natures.”

Who are we? Just one guess!

Ostriches refusing to be oppressed!

Ostriches live with lions and cheetahs.

So ain’t no way you’re gonna beat us!

“Wanna bet?” Little Red Bear snorted in reply, glancing menacingly towards the window.

I simply looked at him and shook my head. They had merely been unintentional off-paw, off-hand comments, after all. Who could know anyone would be so easily and irreparably offended simply by stating an obvious fact – ostriches are flightless.

Clearly, the ostriches do not embrace the concept of a ‘measured response’.

Who’s got the power? We got the power!

What kind of power? Ostrich power!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

I began to think, and correctly so truth be told, that this could all get pretty old, pretty quick. Which it did.

“What are we going to do, Jim?” Little Red Bear inquired after several more minutes of chanting. “Clearly your strategy of ignoring them and hoping they go away didn’t work. If anything, they’re getting louder. So, what now?”

“Hope they get hoarse from chanting and yelling – and then go away?” I responded with a half-bemused chuckle, but actually having no idea of what to do.

1-2-3-4 – We ain’t gonna take it no more!

5-6-7-8 – We’re gonna set these story folks straight!

The calming pitta-pat of the rain between chants became less and less comforting, calling to mind more of a Chinese water torture, ticking off the seconds until the next verbal barrage from the front yard blasted our ears.

Hey, hey! – Ho, ho! This fat bear has got to go!

Hey, hey! – Ho, ho! That old writer is really slow!

“Oh, listen, Jim. They’ve included you now, too,” Little Red Bear said rather happily, appearing to perk up again at the new development.

Hey, hey! – Ho, ho! This fat bear has got to go!

Hey, hey! – Ho, ho! That old man is really slow!

Still shaking my head in bewilderment and confusion as to how we ever arrived at such a state, I could only and simply reply – “How nice. It’s good to be remembered, I suppose.”

It’s hot!  It’s hot!  It’s very, very hot out here.

It’s Little Red Bear’s hot air, polluting the atmosphere!

Global warming and pollution’s no joke, it’s real.

This bear’s bad breath lacks any civilized appeal.

“Well now,” I observed. “The breath comment aside, that one is both topical and catchy.”

Ummpph!” Little Red Bear grunted.

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

What’d you say? They didn’t hear.

Shout it LOUDER, there’s nothing to fear!

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

Little Red Bear pushed back from the table and began to rise.

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere in particular, just out to strangle those guys! Be back in a couple minutes.”

“Red, you may outweigh one of them, but you don’t outweigh all three of them.”

“You ain’t comin’ along to help?”

“Sticks and stones, Red,” I replied. “Don’t listen to them. We must practice restraint. Ignore them. Don’t let them get to you. They’re merely making stuff up and saying things, throwing anything they can think of against the wall to see what sticks.”

Little Red Bear sighed, shoulders slumped, and returned to his seat at the table.

“Well, it’s easy for you to say – ‘Don’t pay them no nevermind’. They got the whole place covered in ‘Don’t Feed the Bear’ posters. Looks like they got those to stick up pretty well on the walls. And what’s up with that? I’ve been feeding myself as long as I can remember. I don’t need anyone to feed me!”

“It’s not about ‘feeding’ you. They want to cut off your food supply and starve you to death.  A blockade of sorts.”

“Well,  – that’s not nice. What’d I ever do to them?”

“Flightless, rude comments.  Remember?”

“Oh, yeah. Right. Well, it’s still not a good enough reason to starve somebody to death!”

Before I could respond to Red’s concerns again, the ostriches all began to sing. Vigorously. They echoed each phrase as they marched in line one behind the other in mock military fashion, waving picket signs thru the air like battle flags.

I don’t know but I’ve been told . . . .

(I don’t know but I’ve been told.)

That Little Red Bear writer is really old . . . .

(That Little Red Bear writer is really old.) 

I don’t know but it’s been said . . . .

(I don’t know but it’s been said.)

Old writers’ butts are made of lead . . . .

(Old writers’ butts are made of lead.)

Instinctively, I then found myself pushing away from the table to head outside and grab hold of a neck.  Or three.

“Your turn to sit back down now, Jim,” Little Red Bear advised, now doubled over laughing and mind clearly off the ‘Don’t Feed’ posters. “Ha, ha, ha! You don’t even outweigh the littlest one.”

And he kept laughing. “They got you good with that one! Ha, ha, ha, ha!  Haw, haw, haw!”

Little Red Bear pounded on the table in great delight, guffawing and yucking it up. Apparently laughing at another’s misery is great stress relief for a bear.

“Yeah, very funny,” I muttered, pulling my chair back beneath me.

“I feel a little better now, not the only one being tormented,” Little Red Bear managed to say, between laughs.

“Happy to help.”

What Little Red Bear knew and had picked up on, was that without knowing it the ostriches had actually hit pretty close to the mark, just citing the wrong metal. But then, in their defense, stainless steel and titanium are a lot harder to rhyme than lead, I suppose.

The ostriches continued their endless chanting, with both volume and vitriol seeming to swell as the day wore on.

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

We are left wondering and not knowing where this whole ostrich confrontation may be headed now, but with increasing concern, as they are beginning to draw the attention of local wildlife who have been overwhelmingly supportive of Little Red Bear’s adventures to this point.

Crowds are gathering, assembling in what appear to be small discussion groups off to the sides. Discontent, even unfounded, has a way of spreading like an uncontrolled virus at times, having a way of triggering dormant and unrelated emotions in others over long-ago slights, real or imagined. We certainly do not need a story character walkout or to lose support in the local community.

Hey, hey, ho!  That smelly bear has got to go!

Hey, hey, ho!  That flightless comment was really low!

Hey, hey, ho!  Come join us picketing to and fro!

Hey, hey, ho!  That writer guy shouldn’t write no mo’!

I now find myself dealing with a group of angry ostriches and an ever-growing crowd outside, and an insulted and agitated bear inside. And it now appears that I myself have become a target for their taunts and barbs.

Though unfamiliar with ostriches per se, these birds are displaying all the obstinacy and stubbornness of Missouri Mules, with whom we are fairly acquainted here. And that’s not exactly a comforting thought, given the independent resolve and strong-mindedness of Little Red Bear on the other side.

I am hoping we are well supplied with aspirin and antacid, because this distressing turn of events appears to have the makings of both an onslaught and a siege.

Ostriches are birds and have our rights.

We’re big and strong and willing to fights!

Good grief. “Willing to fights?” And they want me to stop writing?

Off for aspirins. Hurry nightfall. Maybe these ostriches will all wake up hoarse in the morning and go away.

Or not . . . . . . . .

To be continued . . . . . . . .


Thanks as always for visiting with us!  Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!  — Jim  (and Red!)


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6 thoughts on “The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: Day 2 — Birds On Strike!

  1. James and Red, you made my morning with laughter and smiles!

    Red’s “little breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, pancakes, blueberry muffins, oatmeal, grits, cornbread, hashbrowns, bananas, half a dozen biscuits with honey, an orange, and two cups of English Breakfast” cracked me up… among so many others things you wrote here.

    Those ostrich’s are not being nice at all! I can’t wait to find out what you and Red decide to do with them.

    Thanks so much for sharing your second piece on this. I can’t wait to hear more!

    Have a great weekend,
    Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

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