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Special Mention - Louise Johnston

Die Hard with a parrot

By Louise Johnston

‘Look what Aunty Ros gave me for Christmas,’ said Josh to his parents and grandparents gathered in the lounge.
  ‘Pieces of eight,’ squawked the toy parrot.
  ‘Nice of your sister to buy another quiet toy,’ Lucy said to her husband, Alex.
  ‘It’s payback for that farting Bagpuss you bought,’ Alex replied.
  ‘Yawning Bagpuss. Bagpuss yawns, and it was 10 years ago,’
  ‘At least she tried. You told her how much he was into pirates,’ Alex said.
Josh was wearing stripy trousers pulled up under his armpits and a pirate hat
drooping over his eyes.
  ‘Josh, can you change out of those? You’ve worn them four days straight.’
  ‘Oh, leave ‘im, Lucy,’ her mother said. ‘It’s Christmas.’
Lucy rolled her eyes and signalled to Alex to help her in the kitchen.
  ‘Pieces of eight,’ said the parrot.
  ‘Josh, doesn’t that parrot say anything else? Try the other buttons,’ Lucy was sick of hearing it.
  ‘Ahoy, Me Hearties!’ said the parrot.
Josh ran between his parents in the kitchen and his grandparents in the lounge
pressing the parrot’s buttons.
  ‘My mother is driving me mad,’ Lucy whispered.
  ‘...driving me mad,’ repeated the parrot as Josh trotted back into the lounge.
Her mother took a sip of sherry. She turned to John, her husband, who was glued to
Die Hard. ‘I hope she’s not making turkey again. Lucy’s turkey’s always tough as ol’
Josh dashed back into the kitchen.
  ‘Lucy’s turkey’s always tough as ol’ boots,’ mimicked the parrot to Lucy who was chopping parsnips.
  ‘What did my mother just say?’ she turned to Alex. ‘Is she criticising my cooking? God my mother’s a sour-faced old bat.’
  ‘God my mother’s a sour-faced old bat,’ echoed the parrot as Josh skipped
back into the lounge.
  ‘Get y’ coat, John. We’re leaving. You can keep y’ tough turkey,’ her mother
shouted slamming the front door.
Lucy rushed into the lounge. What had happened? The TV was still playing. She
looked at the discarded cardboard box. “FakeBird repeat-what-you-say parrot.”
  ‘Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker!’ repeated the parrot.

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