BIRD OF PARADISE
As a “Rookie”, you got stuck with some not so glamorous or police-like assignments.
Hawaii is known for its lush landscapes, incredibly beautiful flowers and the “South Pacific” experience. For a time, there was a park that catered to the tourist looking for that experience, named Paradise Park. It was filled with plants from all over, but its main attraction was the incredible birds.
A visitor would walk the marked trails and stop by the numerous cages and aviaries to see parrots, cockatoos and toucans, chickens (some very beautiful), and the “duck show”.
Actually it was often billed as an exotic trained bird show, but seldom was.
My assignment was to be the uniformed escort for the Police Officers Wives Club, and their small children for a special mid-week tour, show and luncheon. Regulations being what they were, the wives had to be escorted by a uniformed officer. I was the lucky guy.
Most of the children, since it was “mid-week” were 6 years and under and like all wives they were all shapes, sizes and ages but the ladies were dressed up and so were the kids.
Because so many of the birds were “trained”, they were allowed to basically be free in specific areas of the “trail”.
There was a warning sign at the entrance telling you the birds would be attracted to shinny objects like necklaces, bracelets, earrings and visitors should take those things off. So everybody did. Well, almost everyone.
The walk itself was mostly down-hill, surrounded on both sides by cages with multi-colored, brightly feathered friends from around the world.
Along the pathway there were assistants and volunteers that would try to answer questions about the birds, where they came from, what was their natural setting, stuff like that.
Sometimes the “guide” would let the visitor hold a bird, let the bird sit on the guests shoulder, or have the bird do a trick, like crap on the shoulder. That’s how a bird ended up sitting on the shoulder of a Captain’s four year old daughter.
Remember when I said almost everyone took off their jewelry? The daughter was the exception. Everybody in the beginning was so concerned with their jewelry they forgot the little girl was wearing small gold-ball earrings.
The guide gently placed a medium sized cockatoo on the girl’s shoulder, everyone began ohhing and awing, taking pictures, and she was giggling with joy.
Then giggles of laughter quickly turned to screams of pain and fear as the bird latched onto the earring with a beak strong enough to crack hazelnuts.
Of course, the louder she screamed the more afraid the bird became and the harder it clamped down on its prize, the earring. By now everyone was yelling, the women kept yelling at the guide, and me, to do something.
The guide was trying to calm everyone down. She kept telling them to quiet down and stop scaring the bird. I will not repeat what she was told to do by the police officer’s wives.
Not being able to use a blackjack, mace, or a gun, I just grabbed the damn bird by the neck and squeezed what I hoped was its jaw, hoping it would cause the beak to open.
The one thing nobody ever tells you, those birds have really fragile necks. Oh, and how do I know this? Okay, the damn bird let go of the earring because it was dead.
There, I said it, I killed the bird!
It wasn’t until later, after all the huhu and shouting died down that anyone, but me, bothered to check on the other victim, the little girl.
It was her I was worried about, so I was hugging her with one hand and holding that damn dead bird with the other. Then the wives and park personnel moved in and I was left holding the bird.
That’s pretty much the story. I’ll skip the report work ( and there was a lot), the fact not one wife bothered to ask how I was doing or say thank-you, and I’ll pass over the $3,000.00 bill the park sent me, and as far as I know, nobody ever paid.
I’ll just wrap this up by saying, that’s the story of how I killed,“The Bird of Paradise”.