January 12, 2019

SATURDAY TALE - Breadcrumbs by Jude Tulli

I don't like the path these breadcrumbs 
are leading me on...
Breadcrumbs! They're not my personal favorites or anything, but...mmm, nice and stale the way Little Coocoo likes them. What we birds do for our young; if I just swallow them whole real quick I can barely taste them now, but the regurge gets me every time. I'd much prefer the flavor of worms or grubs, but parenthood is sacrifice, as my mother always said.
           
Besides, Little Coocoo is so cute when he's all open beak, waiting. What daddy-bird wouldn't endure a sourdough burp or two for such a welcome?
           
Uh oh, I don't like the path these...what am I eating again? Oh yeah, breadcrumbs! I don't like the path these breadcrumbs are leading me too close to the wick--oh Coocoo Boy! Excuse me, Coocoo Boy, I could be wrong but you have the look of someone who's lost. Something in the wideness of your eyes is how I know. I've seen it before in lost Coocoo Children before they—oh, but I do so hate sad stories!
           
Listen, I would turn around if I were you. Coocoo Girl, tell the Coocoo Boy why I'm running around you both in circles; if you carry on this way you'll soon be—
           
Hush now, Little Coocoo, I'm coming! Listen, Coocoo Children, my own offspring is hungry, and I have these yeasty thingies I gotta go choke up for him. If you can just wait for me here, I'll show you the way back to your home if I can remember where I picked up this trail of bread...thingamabobs.
           
Waiting sort of requires that you stop walking, though, okay? Okay! I'll be back just as soon as I can.
Little Coocoo! I'm sorry I left you alone so long but here, I got you some of your favorite human crumbly bready...breadcrumbs!  That's what they call them. Breadcrumbs!
           
Relax, of course there's more. All right, don't gobble down faster than I can gag up your precious little dough-globs.  
           
There! That should tide you over until—you're still hungry?! Coocoo Mother must be laughing at me now from her perch up in Feather-Heaven. I can just hear it.
           
Oh good, here comes your own Coocoo Mommy now. Coocoo! Here, I'm getting up so you can land in the nest.
           
Welcome home, Coocoo! What did you bring for Little Coocoo?  
           
That looks good, but he'll never eat ant eggs right after the wheaty, lumpy...breadcrumbs! That's it, breadcrumbs! I just fed him his favorites.    

Well what do you know...he likes caviar now. Learn something new every day. Clearly you don't need me here, so if you don't mind, I'm going to go borrow Coocoo Sparrow's nest and take a little...what's it called? Oh yeah, nap. Been so long since I've had one I can't remember.
Coocoo Sparrow's nest was full up of young ones, so I suppose Coocoo Swallow's empty nest has to do, petite though it is.
           
Funny how I can remember words like "petite" and “caviar” when I need them just for myself but "nap" eluded...so...tired. . .
       
What's that? Who's there? Stop pecking at my eyes! Can't you see they're closed?!
           
Oh, hello Coocoo Swallow. I thought you'd abandoned this nest.
           
Less work to rebuild it than start a new one, eh? Well, these are troubled times, old friend. Troubled times, indeed.
           
Very well, I'm up now anyway. I'd better go home and check on Coocoo and Little Coocoo.
I've been gone how long?! Of course you would have woken me up Coocoo, but I was too tired to tell you I'd switched nests. I can barely get comfortable with Little Coocoo nuzzling my tail, let alone with several Coocoo Sparrow fledglings nipping at my wings.
           
Oh no!  I promised Coocoo Children I'd return to show them the way home! Coocoo, can you feed Little Coocoo while I try to find them? I'll take care of him for the next few days to make up for it, okay?
           
You're the coocoo sweetest.
Now where did I first find the whatsit? Oh yeah, breadcrumbs! Maybe if I start at the witch's house I can trace the trail of my beakmarks back to where those Coocoo Kids'll be safe.  
           
Oh, dear! Coocoo Boy, don't start eating the house, it's just a prelude to—
           
Coocoo Girl, tell him to stop. Oh no, not you too!
           
I'm too late! They've been invited in, and they don't have the coocoo sense to say no.
           
I don't know if I have the stomach to watch how this story's going to end. Especially after eating all those breadcrumbs.

Jude Tulli lives in the Sonoran Desert with his beloved wife Trish and a small pride of housecats. For quick links to his other works published with EC (including the recent Krampus anthology), his novelette Faegotten and more, you can visit him on Goodreads. 

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

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