The sun was shining brightly and not a cloud hung in the sky. The flowers were in full bloom and the birds sung in the tree tops.
“Bloody birds and their bloody singing.” Seth Johnson stood outside his kitchen door looking out into the garden. His favourite burgundy bathrobe was old and becoming threadbare but, over his eighty-five years on this earth, Seth had learnt not to discard things while they still served their purpose. Even if it did smell stale and look like an old dog’s blanket, he still found comfort and warmth in its embrace.
“Bloody noisy birds.” Seth raised his double barrel shotgun and trained it on the nearest tree top.
“Bloody birds and their bloody chirping.” He gently exhaled and pulled the trigger. There was a single hollow click as the hammer struck, followed by a brief flutter of wings from the surrounding trees. He pulled the second trigger but was awarded the same result.
Seth lowered his gun and snapped open the breach. Pulling out the first cartridge, he examined it closely. Holding it up to his nose, he took a deep sniff, it smelt neither damp nor discharged. He dropped it on the floor by his feet and pulled out the second cartridge. He repeated his inspection before letting it fall next to the first. Shrugging his shoulders, Seth fumbled around in the pockets of his bathrobe, finally pulling out two fresh cartridges. He slotted them into the barrels of his gun before snapping it closed. He lifted it up again and trained it on the treetop. Click… Click.
“Bugger it.” He cracked the shotgun open and flicked the two cartridges out. They fell to the floor, where a small pile was beginning to form. A moment of fumbling within his pockets produced another two fresh cartridges. He hastily slotted then into his gun and slammed the breach shut.
“Bugger it, bugger it. God damn and bugger it!” Seth swore as he heard the two hollow clicks. He snapped his gun open a third time and shook the cartridges from his gun. They fell to the floor, landed amongst the first four and scattered them like bowling balls. With his gun hooked over his arm, he stomped back into his house, slamming the kitchen door closed behind him. The Sun continued to shine and the birds were still singing.
As night fell, the treetop began to rustle. Six sparrows swooped down from the highest branches. Each one took a tight hold of a discarded shotgun cartridge with their tiny claws. One by one the flew through the open kitchen window. Gently gliding through the hallway and up the stairs, the convoy of small birds squeezed through the small gap beneath Seth’s bedroom door. In his bed, Seth slept soundly, his favourite burgundy bathrobe was hooked to the back of his bedroom door. The little sparrows hovered above the bed momentarily, as if mocking the sleeper within, before gliding to the door. One by one, they dropped the cartridges into the deep, gaping pockets of Seth’s bathrobe, before swooping away through the crack beneath the door.
The following morning the sun was shining brightly and not a cloud hung in the sky. The flowers were in full bloom and the birds sung in the tree tops.
“Bloody birds!” Seth grumbled as he raised his shotgun.