Jon de Vos: Without possibility of parole
July 1, 2011
Some years back, my wife and I adopted a young African female whose life had taken a nasty turn. She was about to be tossed out into the cruel world of Dumpster-diving in Grand Lake alleys.
My wife and I hadn’t discussed it and certainly hadn’t planned it, but we nodded to each other in a moment of weakness. And that’s how our new child and her meager possessions moved into our home.
Right from the start, it was a touchy relationship, mostly good. But there was this one thing: The kid chewed wood like a starved beaver. She could chip a Number 2 pencil into sawdust before your startled eyes.
I was mildly alarmed the first time she craned her neck out and bit off a big piece of door trim. My wife, however, was quite upset and threatened to wring her neck and roast her for dinner. Oh, by the way, I did mention that our new boarder is a parrot, didn’t I? An African Gray? Whatever.
We named the bird, Buddy. She roamed throughout a large tropical aviary that my wife often confused with a dining room. The two of them bickered over each other’s use of the room.
Outright hostilities broke out when, in a clear burst of ethnic disorientation, my wife bought a piece of antique Japanese furniture called a Tansu. It was very lightweight, old, and clearly hand hewn. Lots of drawers, sliding doors and various cubby holes; it was her pride and joy.
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I had to schedule glances under her supervision if I wanted to view the sacred Tansu. She used it to store the “good” linen napkins and the “good” wine glasses for company. Despite eons of marriage, I still do not know where she keeps the “bad” napkins and wine glasses.
The Tansu sat in our aviary … oops, dining room, until one day in a burst of devilish exuberance, Buddy hacked up one whole side of that Asian oddity. She went at it like a drunken chainsaw artist’s first bear.
When she was done, the bad side of the Tansu looked like the bad side of the Phantom of the Opera. “It … it’s not so noticeable if you turn the lights off and squint hard,” stammered the lone defense witness (me).
The trial was brief. “I’m innocent!” Buddy squawked. Unconvinced, the judge and the jury, they did agree, they all said Tansu Murder in the first degree. All roles in the preceding sentence were portrayed by one incredibly angry wife who also played the bitter prosecuting attorney and the arresting officer.
Defense played the race card. “I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, can you tell me in all honesty that a White Macaw would have been arrested for the same crime as this poor, defenseless African Gray?”
The trial was flawed. The judge, herself, shouted that she had never seen “such wanton destruction of private property.” The arresting officer claimed that Buddy presented a big flight risk. The prosecuting attorney herself, claimed to be an eye-witness happening upon the scene just at the conclusion of the crime.
So Buddy now lives in a gated community. OK, truth to tell, she’s doing life in lock-down in a maximum security Colorado pen.
We’re planning to appeal.
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