“David, there, go!” I yelled and pointed while pulling a fabric bag over the vulture’s head. Louis was holding it down for me and I had to work fast to make it less traumatizing for the animal.
“Oh no, look at that one’s face,” David yelled back, hesitant to move any closer to the cornered, large Griffon Vulture.
“Stop your fussing and get your ass over there before he gets away!” I yelled over my shoulder as I tied a loose knot around the bag and Louis tied the vulture’s legs together.
“No, way man! That thing looks feral!”
I groaned in frustration and nodded at Louis to finish up for me. He nodded back in confirmation and I jumped up to go and take over from David.
“For goodness’ sake man, it’s just a bird,” I grumbled as I stepped closer, “ready?” I didn’t wait for him to respond before lunging myself at the big bird and clamping its wings together, using both my arms and hands.
The large male vulture struggled fiercely in my hold and I had to use more force to pull its magnificent wings closer to its body, “BAG!” I yelled to David who was still reluctant to come any closer, “NOW!”
Vultures such as these weren’t my favourite to work with, since their primary defence mechanism included projectile vomiting, hence the bags over the heads. Vultures vomit in nature to repel predators. They can projectile vomit their semi-digested food up to 10 feet away, showering their assailant with the worst smelling vomit you have ever experienced.
“David, damn it!” I yelled out in annoyance.
David must have seen my anger vein popping out along the side of my neck because withing seconds he was right by my side, pulling the bag over the bird’s beak. And just in time, it seemed as the vulture vomited violently into the bag and the contents of its stomach leaked out of the bottom before we could even get a chance to tie it down.
“What took you so long!?” I practically growled out as a whiff of the potent sour liquid filled my nostrils.
“I am a snake handler, not a bird whisperer,” he answered sarcastically, and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to not bite back in anger because I was pretty sure David would not walk away from that unharmed.
We tied the bird’s legs together and I pushed myself up by pressing on David’s shoulder and with that action, I subtly wiped the vomit that had gotten onto my hand onto David’s shirt.
Louis saw and snickered into his hand as he bent down to grab the first bird.
These two were to be transported to a neighbouring zoo that needed a new breeding pair. Their transfer papers, wooden crates and transport were already waiting, and we just needed to do the dirty work, literally.
“Man, you stink,” Louis commented as I walked past with the large male, “thanks,” I mumbled in reply.
“Lock the gate behind you!” Louis called to David as we left with the birds.
“Yeah,” he answered gruffly, trying to scrape some of the vomit on the side of his shoe off onto a nearby rock.
“Come in please, Conner.” The radio in my belt suddenly blared out loudly.
My arms were full, and the bird was pretty heavy, so I couldn’t really free a hand to answer Rachel’s call.
“She is just going to have to wait,” I said to Louis who was walking alongside me carrying the slightly smaller female. He nodded in agreement and readjusted the bird in his arms with a hefty groan.
Ten minutes later, I finally made it to the ticket office.
“Sorry about that Rachel, I was a bit busy, did you need anything?”
“Uh, yeah, actually, your mom called.”
Ok, now she had my attention. In thought, I cocked my head to the side and stared at her for a second, did I miss something? Was I supposed to meet my mother somewhere?
“I’m sorry, did you say my mom called?” I asked in confirmation.
“Yes, she left a message since I couldn’t get hold of you,” Rachel replied casually as she fumbled around her desk, looking for the note she had scribbled down.
I waited for what felt like minutes before she finally pulled out a piece of paper and started reading from it, “she said, please tell my son, that his mom called and that she did not sound happy.”
I didn’t know what to say, “is that it?”
I watched in slow motion as a wicked grin formed on Rachel’s face and she turned around to fully face me, “she also said that she had a huge fight with a dark-haired girl in your flat and that she threw her out on the street with nothing but a t-shirt on.”
My mouth fell open.
Was she joking? I hoped so.
Rachel crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it at me, “shut your mouth whenever you are ready,” she simply said and turned around to carry on with her work.
No, no, no, Melena would have mind-linked me, wouldn’t she?
I couldn’t mind-link her since I was not a wolf, but I could receive links from her. Surely, she would have said something by now. Unless she was too embarrassed?
“Crap, can I borrow the phone?” I asked and scrambled into the tiny office to reach for the phone.
“Sure,” Rachel mumbled, but made no attempt to move whatsoever.
I quickly punched in my apartment’s number and waited anxiously for the ringing tone to start playing in the earpiece.
Come on, come on, pick up!
“Hello?” I heard the most familiar, soothing voice answer from the other end of the line.
“Mom! Mom, are you playing a prank on me?”
“Who is this?” My mom replied in a serious tone.
I groaned in frustration and almost put the phone down, “Mom, please, not now, I need you to tell me the truth,” I begged, hoping that she would stop playing games.
“Fine,” she mumbled, “what would you like to know?”
“Melena, is she still there?”
“Who is Melena?” she asked in the sweetest, most innocent manner.
“The girl, Mom, with the dark hair?”
Rachel was looking very amused and chewed on the end of her pen as she listened in on my conversation.
“Oh, yes, that girl.”
“Where is she now? Where is Melena?” I asked in a panic. At that stage, I was ready to start pulling my hair out in frustration.
“She is here.”
I growled out in annoyance and slammed my fist onto the desk counter. Rachel yelped in surprise and almost fell off her chair. Gripping the earpiece tightly in my hand, I stood there for a few more seconds, trying to compose myself.
This was so typical of my mom, she was always a sport, and usually, I loved it about her, but this time she went too far.
After a while, I lifted the earpiece to my face again, “Mom?”
“Yes, Honey?” She replied sweetly again, and I couldn’t help but shake my head.
“Would you please treat her nicely?” I asked and heard Rachel snort somewhere behind me, but I didn’t care, “I really like this girl, Mom.”
My mother stayed quiet for a moment. I knew she realized instantly that this was a serious matter. I never spoke about girls or even introduced one to my family before, so this was definitely new to everyone.
“Only if you promise to bring this lovely lady to dinner tomorrow night?” She finally answered and I felt relief washing over me.
I pressed my fingers to my forehead and sighed, “fine, we will be there at 7.”
“Good. Oh, and Conner?”
“Never try to hide anything from your mama ever again, ok?”
I chuckled and shook my head again, “sure, Mom.”