By : Dennis Stein
The crow was still incredibly difficult to capture, even with a broken wing. It ran among the kaleidoscope of fallen leaves, reds and yellows punctuated by the black of its feathers. The two young girls chased him around the park until he was too tired to evade them any longer. A jacket served to wrap him in a cocoon of warmth against the cool fall air. They were sisters, one nine and the other seven, as different from one another as chocolate and vanilla. The oldest was slender, with dark brown hair, the younger shorter with blonde ringlets. They raced up onto the porch to their Grandmother's house, the bird nestled in the jacket barely moving, content to be held in its warm wrapping.
"We have to help him!" exclaimed the girls as their Grandmother assessed the injured crow.
It was obvious to the old woman what needed to happen, and she looked at her granddaughters, watching their faces.
"Well,... he needs to go to the animal hospital, and it looks like you two will have to take him." she said.
Tawnia and Pamela looked at each other in wonder.
Their Grandmother shuffled off to a pantry at the back of the kitchen, returning moments later with a cardboard box just large enough to house the bird. She carefully tucked the crow, complete with his jacket wrapping, into the box, folding the flaps on top shut. She turned back to the girls.
"Go back down to the bus stop, and you two can take him up to the Veterinary Clinic uptown in the plaza. Tell the bus driver where you are going, he will help you..." she said, ignoring the look of awe on their faces and handing Tawnia a few dollars.
The two girls excitedly gathered up the box, and headed quickly out the door. They sat patiently on the wooden bench underneath the aging steel sign marking the bus stop, Pamela cradling the box on her lap. Tawnia scanned up and down the street for the white city bus. Many cars passed by on the street, but finally the bus arrived. The girls wasted no time, climbing through the open side door. The heavy-set bus driver looked at them over his thick glasses, pondering their package as he watched Tawnia stuff a bill in the plastic box for their fare. The girls made their way to a vacant seat. Pamela looked out the window as they pulled away from the familiar trees of the park.
"We forgot to tell the bus driver where we wanted to go." she whispered to her sister.
"It's OK, this is the blue route, we need to change buses to get to the plaza, I think." replied Tawnia, watching the streets pass by.
The bus driver was observing the two girls in the mirror at the front of the bus.
The soft sound of the diesel engine on the bus purred as they rode through the streets of the city. The two girls were quiet, taking the whole adventure in as they watched the city pass by. The quiet was suddenly broken however, by their third party. A rustling began to happen inside the cardboard box that Pamela held on her lap. Several people turned in their seats to see, and the two girls froze in their seat. Pamela sank down in the seat, not liking the sudden attention they were drawing. The bus driver's eyes were on them again. There was a small 'cawing' from the box. A lady on the seat across from them asked what they had in the box, with a curious look.
"Um, Toys..." replied Tawnia quickly.
The bus driver was still watching, dividing his attention between the road and the two girls. The crow cawed again. More people began to turn around, looking at the two young girls curiously. The scuffling in the box continued. Finally, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road. Tawnia and Pamela knew that this was not a good thing. The driver stood up in the front of the bus, adjusting his glasses, and hiking up his belt as he turned toward the passengers.
"Ok, what is happening here?" he said, looking directly at the girls.
Pamela and Tawnia sank down in their seat. They wished it would all just go away, that this sudden attention would somehow just disappear.
"What have you two got in that box?" asked the driver sternly.
Not knowing what else to do, Pamela opened the flaps of the cardboard box. The crow popped his head out. Several people let out a gasp. Pamela immediately tucked the bird's head back into the box.
"We need to help him, he has a broken wing." she said simply.
The two girls sat with their cardboard box, silently. The bus driver seemed placated by the response, and the people on the bus were interested in the girls and their rescue suddenly. The driver sat back down, continuing on the way. The bus pulled into the mall parking lot, and stopped. The girls got up to get off.
"Ok, you girls need to get on the red bus, which should be here in a few minutes." the driver said.
Tawnia and Pamela got off the bus, box in tow. The driver stood by, watching the children. The red route bus pulled up.
"This bus will take you to the plaza, where the animal hospital is. Don't worry, your little friend will make it there." he explained.
The two girls nodded, and stepped up onto the bus, finding a seat. The driver closed the doors, and the engine revved as they pulled away. Tawnia and Pamela watched the scenes flash by outside the windows. Finally they arrived at the plaza, and the girls could see the sign marking the Veterinary Clinic. Tawnia pulled on Pamela's sweater, pointing.
"Last stop." said the driver happily, opening the doors.
Tawnia and Pamela lept to their feet, happy that they had made it to their destination. Tawnia held open the thick glass door for her sister, as Pamela carried the box inside. The clinic was warm inside, the small waiting area decorated with plants, a few chairs,and a counter. A young woman in hospital scrubs emerged from the back, looking over the counter.
"Well, hello ladies!" she said cheerfully. "What can we do for you?"
Pamela and Tawnia said nothing, Pamela bashfully lifting the box onto the counter.
"Oh, what have we here?" she said, peering into the flaps of the box.
"He is hurt, and we need to help him!" said Pamela finally.
"Well, I think we can help him, let me go and get the doctor." she said.
She disappeared, returning a minute later with a tall man with dark hair, dressed in the same hospital clothing. They both peered into the box.
The doctor looked at the two girls, smiling.
"I'm sure we can help him, girls." he said. "Leave him with us, we will make sure he gets excellent care."
The girls smiled, feeling much better hearing his words.
"Are you two here by yourselves?" asked the doctor.
"Yes, our Grandmother told us how to get here." said Tawnia.
The doctor and his assistant looked at each other in disbelief.
"Will you be able to get home?" the doctor asked.
"Yes, we will get on the next bus." said Tawnia simply.
"We will make sure he is ok..." the doctor said.
The two girls nodded. The next bus had pulled up out front, and they hurried out the door to meet it. The ride home was long, but they arrived at their Grandmother's house in time to be picked up by their mother.
It was quiet that evening, the two young girls watching a cartoon on TV, their mother in the kitchen.
The telephone rang, its shrill metallic voice demanding attention. The girls paid no attention to the phone, after all, the telephone was never for them. The call ended, their mother coming out to the living room, where the girls were watching television.
"Tawnia, Pamela, I need to speak to you..." she said.
The girls looked at one another suddenly, knowing from their mother's voice that they were in trouble. They came to sit at the dining room table, where their mother was already waiting, her hands folded on the table in front of her.
"You two went to the Animal Hospital today?" she inquired, with a serious look on her face.
Pamela lowered her head, her blonde ringlets falling in front of her face.
Their mother let out a deep sigh, but her expression softened slightly.
"Well, the Veterinarian asked me to pass a message to you two. He had trouble finding our telephone number, until he found your Grandmother's address on the box..." she said.
A smile crept onto her face as the two girls looked at her, waiting patiently.