The Peacock Perplexity

With a flourish of his extravagant tail, the stately but geographically confused peacock paraded into the liquor store. There had been an unseasonable cold snap, and somewhere in the recesses of his avian brain he must have realized that it would be warmer inside than outside.   The manager of the store, moving quickly behind a counter, immediately shouted at him, “Hey, get out of here, bird!”  The gentleman in question did not speak peacock, and all the peacock heard was, ‘krenn krenn krenn krenn’. But his loud voice startled the strutting exhibitionist, and, involuntarily, he spread out his enormous hundred eyed tail and ran.  Peacocks, as only a few people are aware, have a wretched sense of direction, and this eager prisoner of his own plumage was no exception.  He ran directly into a display of dessert wines, smashing magnums and litres with a resounding crash that only agitated him more.  He slipped in the spreading red and white puddles, and careened into the aperitif shelf, Drambuie over teakettle.  The store manager, whose name tag said ‘Skiff’, although his name was Jeff, charged the stumbling peacock with the only thing handy, an empty box. The peacock bolted away, and knocked over a champagne display and a case of Chablis.  He darted through the store, skidding, sliding and knocking bottles to the floor until Skiff managed to get the box over his head, but it was only his head.  His enormous tail feathers still flared out behind him, threatening more mayhem.

“Oh god, oh god,” Skiff mumbled, one hand on the box and his other arm wrapped around the bird’s body.  “What now?”

He slipped once in the spillage, but managed to maneuver the peacock to the closet in the corner with only the loss of one shelf of reds and a few bottles of vodka.  He shoved the bird in and stuffed in his feathers with his foot, and with trembling hands, called the police.


The police, when they understood the nature of the emergency, passed it off gladly to the Animal Control division, and, after only a few hours delay, two officers from Animal Control tiptoed carefully into the store.  “Greetings, shop owners. We’re from A.C.” the taller one said, his thumbs hooked comfortably into his belt.  “Our stated and sworn mission is to relieve you of inconveniences of non-human origin. We have been given to understand that you are in peril from a pavo cristatus.” He smiled benignly.

“Quite a prodigious engagement in here,” the shorter one said scanning the wreckage.  “Somewhat reminiscent of a carousal I attended in my carefree youth, the less said about which the better.”

“We took pictures of all the damage,” Skiff said, “but we wanted you to witness it, just for, you know, insurance purposes.”  Skiff looked over at the store owner, standing with arms folded in the corner of the store, having difficulty breathing.  The owner, who never bothered to wear a name tag, was known by friends and customers as Bryce, although his name was Robert.

“What is the perp’s current twenty?” The shorter A.C. asked.  Skiff and Bryce looked at each other and then at the officer.

The taller officer said, “He means where is the bird.”

Bryce and Skiff pointed toward the closet from which a muffled “krenn krenn krenn krenn” emanated.

“He’s a peacock,” Bryce said.  “A full grown peacock.”

“Of course he is,” the two officers said together.  The tall one’s name tag identified him as Officer Gwynn, but everyone called him Francis.  The shorter A.C. officer’s name tag designated him as Officer Ross, but everyone called him Gunther.  They both moved carefully to the closet, sweeping debris and glass to the side with their feet.  

“May I assume some experience on your part in the category of peacocks?” Gunther asked Francis.

“Well,” Francis replied, “they are indigenous to the area. In my capacity as private citizen I have seen many and have developed an enviable skill in avoiding them.”

“Then may I assume further that your resume vis-a-vis capturing said peacocks and escorting them off premises is less than extensive?”

Francis looked at the ceiling and considered for a moment. “Yes. That is a safe assumption and one which I believe fully conforms with the facts.”

“Krenn krenn krenn krenn” said the peacock.  Gunther and Francis took a long moment to look at the door.

“Ideas?” asked Gunther.  “Generalized thoughts on the development of a viable strategy?”

“Several,” said Francis.  “And I am, at this juncture, turning them over in my mind, sequentially, to make a judgement about which would be most efficacious.”  They stood quietly for a few moments more, as Francis rubbed his chin.

“I have to admit,” said Francis at last, “that none of my propositions, at first consideration, seems to offer an elegant solution to our angry-peacock-in-the-liquor-store quandary.  I am, to be candid, stumped.  And you?”

Gunther also rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  “I have considered only the most prosaic of solutions.  Net, tranquilizer dart, taser, or the old standby, a club over the head.  I am not enamored of any of these potential remedies to treat what you have so accurately outlined as our ‘angry-peacock-in-the-liquor-store’ quandary.”

“For what it’s worth,” said Skiff, “I’m in favor of the club over the head solution. I almost killed myself getting that box over his head.”

Francis and Gunther nodded in unison at Skiff, and then turned back to face each other.  “I envision difficulties with each of your remedies,” Francis said.  “To wit, we don’t have a net big enough to encompass a fully engaged Peacock. A club over the head would certainly run us afoul of an extensive index of animal rights groups.  And neither of us are currently certified to employ either a taser or a tranquilizer dart.”

“Oh, yes,” said Gunther, “ever since the episode with the recalcitrant raccoon.”


“But Francis, you know very well that raccoon was laughing at me.  I cling to my plea of self-defense!”

“Yes, Gunther, we have been over this many times, and I am fully aware of and in sympathy with your position.  So we should address ourselves to the current happenstance of havoc.”

They turned in unison and stared at the closet door for a long minute.  Gunther said to Skiff, “Did you say something about a box?”

“You mean the one over his head,” replied Skiff.

“Yes,” said Gunther.  “The very one.  Tell me more about this alleged box.”

“It was a Tutallini Francesha box.  Pretty thick cardboard.  Picture of Mona Lisa on the side. Mostly beige, but with a yellow border.  Covered his whole head.”

“Name and color scheme are not helpful in this circumstance,” said Gunther.  “Were we engaged in a search for said box a full description would probably be constructive, nay, perhaps even advantageous.  But, in our current adventure, the color and brand of the box seem not only irrelevant, but counter productive as well, wasting, as it does, the precious commodity of time.  Would you think that the alleged box might still be occluding the vision of the perpetrating peacock, giving us a slight advantage? Or is it more likely that, in his current mode of thrashing and ‘krenning’, the box is no longer in its original location?”

Skiff walked over and pointed to a dry and unsmashed Tutallini Francesha box. “It is tall enough and wide enough to fit over his head and about halfway down his neck.  I don’t think he could have thrashed it off.”

“Ah, Gunther, the dawn breaks and light suffuses our conundrum,”” said Francis. “Your cross examination of this uncertain and yet excellent witness has yielded a nugget of valuable information.  But what we need at this critical juncture is eye-witness evidence of the current location and condition of said box.  We must, I fear, peek.”

“Then perhaps the Fledeinschpar maneuver?” Gunther suggested.

“That very notion was tripping lightly across my consciousness, Gunther,” Francis said, solemnly.  “Do you recall it from A.C. training school?”

“I do indeed. The time of my life, Francis.  The best three years of my life.  Shall I take the obverse position, and you the converse?”

“Oh, Gunther, In your enthusiasm you may have inadvertently muddled your nomenclature.  Obverse and reverse are terms applied to numismatics.  Converse, unless my merchandising aptitude has deserted me, is a brand of athletic footwear.”

“Right, then. Heartfelt amends, and well-deserved kudos to your merchandising aptitude.  However, I feel I should get credit for Fledeinschpar.”

“Credit has been suitably applied, Gunther,” said Francis tapping the side of his head.  “And now, I will take what professor Fledeinschpar has formally designated as the Evidentiary Visual Point Position, and I cordially request that you assume the Post Hoc Fundamental Auxiliary Position.  Provide, if you will, approximately a five inch aperture when I open the door. That should be sufficient for me to ascertain the status of our fine feathered adversary and his headgear.”  He reached to his belt and retrieved his flashlight.

Gunther got down on all fours and placed his shoulder about 5 inches from the door.

“I must confess, Gunther, that you seem comfortable, and even familiar, with that ungainly position.”

“I have nephews and nieces, Francis, with an unquenchable thirst for ‘Unky Gunty’s’ horsey rides.  I am at a loss to adequately express  my fear of birthday parties.”

“I can do no more than commiserate, my friend.”

“One caveat, Francis.  What should we establish as our ‘safety word’, in the event that this exercise does not proceed as we intend?”

“I think we may want to just keep it intellectually neutral, and firmly linked to the natural flow of events.  How about if I just shriek, ‘Gunther slam the door!”

“I feel certain that would meet the need, Francis.”

With a nod and no other discussion, Francis opened the door the prescribed five inches, and shone his light in.  A slight bump on the door and a louder sequence of “Krenn” were the only result.  He closed it again quickly.

“The peacock in question is no longer alleged, but quite bona fide, and, as this young man narrated, firmly hooded.  I feel confident that we can advance to the removal portion of our program.”  Bryce, the manager still in the corner, squeaked involuntarily.

“I will do the honors,” said Gunther, rising slowly to his feet.  “You have already valiantly placed yourself in harm’s way.”


The final chapter of this story can be easily told. On the count of three, Francis yanked the door open and Gunther, true to his word, swept the befuddled bird into his arms and out past the shop door, being held open by Skiff. To the great relief of the store owner, still cowering and occasionally squeaking, no more inventory was sacrificed.  Outside, Francis pulled until  the box came off the head of the peacock.  He and Gunther backed quickly away in a hail of “krenn’s”.  The bird, having learned its lesson neither ran away nor attacked.  Still squawking, he stalked away, head erect and tail dragging, doing his best to retrieve his dignity.

The two officers, satisfied with their accomplishment but not given to displays of celebration, simply nodded to Skiff, waved to Bryce, and turned away.  “I do love my job, Francis,” Gunther sighed, “but I must confess I am happy to see the tail end of that disagreeable bird.”  

“Indeed,” Francis agreed.