by Hugh Cartwright
Freshly dead, she was pinned to the desk by a knife. Smears of blood oozed between his fingers and dripped to the floor.
She’d been smart, loyal, an indispensable sidekick. Her high-speed repartee entertained visitors to the Maritime Museum far more than his plodding stories of buccaneer life. But gradually her wit slowed, her off-the-cuff one-liners lost their edginess, and her creativity fell away. Eventually, she did little more than posturing and strutting, occasionally whistling sea shanties at the visitors.
As tourists began to desert the Museum, he knew that a younger, more vibrant partner was essential; without one, his role as the Museum’s chief story-teller would be at an end. And yet he couldn’t allow her to remain. This was home; he knew that she would always be hanging around, making life impossible for any newcomer. There was no alternative – she must die.
He stroked her soft, cooling body, sighed, and tried to pull himself together. At last, he turned away and sat down. Time to move on.
He took out his cell phone, took a deep breath and typed “Exotic birds”. As his tears began to soak into the corpse he gasped: the price of a replacement Scarlet Macaw was impossibly high. His partner and his livelihood both gone in an instant.
Hugh lives in the Pacific Northwest, where writing provides a diversion from his doomed attempts to grow Canadian oranges. His stories have appeared in Nature Futures, Foxglove Journal, Meniscus, The Drabble, Grey Sparrow Journal, Flashes of Brilliance, Toasted Cheese, and elsewhere.