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The search for the lesser-spotted Bouguereau
Ornothology and the arts
by Leon Arduous

Part 3 - getting there

....... they almost had the plane to themselves as Mexico City was not a popular destination at this time of the year, particularly flying No-Sweat airlines. Sitting in his isle seat he dozed away considering the mistakes of his past life. He was a bird lover and had married a bird lover and any casual observer would usually think that would be sufficient for happiness. One of his friends from those days even went so far to proclaim it was a marriage made in bird lover's heaven.

Alas, but it was not to be.

It turned out she was a post- dodoist, more interested in birds of prey like the bronzed-winged Rothko or the DeKooning chicken killer and the stooped-Mondrian water foul.

Now the book and the boy were the only things left from his past life.

He glanced down at the torn, tattered and pale cover of 'A birdwatcher's guide to Bouguereau, Waterhouse, Alma Tadema and other exotic game birds' (5th edition 1903) then sighed as he looked across to the sleeping boy. Soon it merely became a vacant stare which was only broken by the shadow of a passing cloud that momentarily swept the window seat and across his son's angular face.

For eight years Edith and he had been together. Eight years while she winged and whined and came home reeking of the scent from the men she so casually enjoyed. Then one day she had moved out, and, on that same day, he realized just how miserable the last eight years had been. Like a prison sentence. Like a loss of life. When she walked out she took a part of him with her - eight years of his life, and all his smiles. She had buried the carefree lover of the lesser-spotted Bouguereau under the weight of her criticism, cut him with the knife edge of her tougue, and stolen his confidence, sucking it from him into the vacumn of her contempt.

She had left nothing - only the boy, and the book, and the bronze medal he received from the local writing group for the best piece of irony.

As the aeroplane levelled out he let the book fall open on his knee and began to read ....

'Lesser spotted Bouguerau; European game bird of the late 19 century especially prized for its delicate flavoured white meat and brilliant plumage. Much sought after by gourmets and hunters alike as the liver was an essential ingredient in that most famous of entree dishes 'boilione in aspic' while the tail feathers were fought over as fashion accessories for those rich and fortunate enough to afford such exotic luxuries. Fast becoming endanged and thought to be unique.

His knees moved slightly letting the book close as he felt the moistness gather in his eyes. It was almost too painful to contemplate the loss to humantiy and the folorn hope that directed his footsteps along the faint trail he now followed. Would he ever find a live Bouguerau ... or was it just a pipe dream?

Suddenly a distant voice came crackling over the intercom. 'No Sweat Airlines hope you have enjoyed you flight to Mexico City and we shall be landing as soon as we get ground clearance, or before if our gasoline runs out. Those of you who ate the rare steak with pepper suace please go to the gate marked 6b. We are sorry for the inconvenience but we have since found out that the horse died hard and may have had unusual owners. Please buckle your seat belts.

Fortunately our hero had not actually ever unbuckled his belt so there was no necessity to do anything but to take a deep breath and keep his fingers crossed.

Next part 4 ... trouble in Mexico City and the chicken farm from hell.