“Hang on, Mr Director, let me get used to this form.”

“What’s to get used to, P’sheen? You’re a bird.”

“Yeah. I’ve seen that. First time I’ve been without manipulators, though. How am I supposed to hold things, carry things?”

“You’re not. Your assignment is simply to observe and to report back on what you see and hear.”

“I need to know how to use this body, though. I can’t just go straight in.”

“Why not?”

“Because if I crash because I haven’t mastered flying properly, my cover will be blown. It’s easy for you; all you need to do is stand there and look like a tree. That’s really Acting 101. I need to spend time exploring what it means to be a bird. Once I’ve figured that, I need to find out what it means to be a … what species am I, anyway?”

“Look, P’sheen. You keep telling me how method you are, how you like to research your parts and so on. And yet you haven’t worked out what species you are. Explain.”

“Hold a mirror in front of me so I can see myself, then I’ll be able to work it out.”

“I would have thought your character would be flexible enough to look at yourself and work it out.”

“Yeah, sure. I can twist myself inside out so I can see the back of my head and look myself in the eyes. Come on, just hold up a mirror, or take a picture and let me look at it.”

“Okay. Picture coming up… [click]. How’s that?”

“Ah, okay. Male Green Woodpecker – Picus viridis. Right. I kind of guessed that, but wanted to be sure.”

“So you know what you need to do so as not to attract attention?”

“Yup. I hang around on the grass eating ants.”


“No, they’re fine. Remember that job in the deep south a while ago? They were into dipping ants in chocolate and eating them. Quite tasty. They put the ants in a jar with sugar to keep them happy until they wanted to dip them in the melted chocolate.”

“Why bother keeping them happy if you’re going to eat them?”

“I don’t know how true it is, but they said that the ants go sour if they’re not happy.”

“I think you’ll find, my gullible little friend, that they were pulling your chain.”

“Either way – it’s what they did.”

“So you’re eating ants. Do you have a long tongue, like a proper ant-eater?”

“Sure do. It wraps around the back of my head – and it has barbs on the end to help pick up the little critters. See how far I can stick it out?”

“Oh, wow. That’s cool. Now; the job I have for you—”

“Not so fast, Boss. Method, remember? I need to practise.”

“Practise what?”

“Flying, feeding, manoeuvring, the whole nine yards. I have to feel Green Woodpecker. I have to think like a Green Woodpecker. I have to be a Green Woodpecker – a convincing one. That takes time and commitment. When’s the caper coming off,”

“Caper? You’ve been watching too many B-grade detective movies! But the answer is: I don’t know. That’s why I need you to get into their lair and find out. Preliminary intel suggests soon.”

“Okay. Give me a couple of hours to familiarise myself with my part.”

“You can have one.”

“Why only one?”

“Because whatever you ask for, I’ll cut in half.”

“So if I’d said I needed four hours…”

“I’d have said two.”

“I need four hours, then.”

“Too late. I’ve said one already.”

“That’s not very fair.”

“You’re wasting your hour, P’sheen.”

P’sheen flew off, laughing raucously as he executed his undulating flight over the meadow. The director waited patiently.

Fifty minutes later, the laughter started again, stopping only when P’sheen landed on the grass in front of the director.

“Okay, Boss. I’m ready.”

“What’s with the laughing?”

“That’s not laughing, it’s my call.”

“Well, don’t do it when you’re working. Fly in silently, listen and fly out. Silently. Clear?”

“If you wanted me to be silent, why am I a woodpecker. An owl would have been more useful.”

“Oh, yeah. Hooting and screeching. Just what we need.”

“Silent flight, though.”

“I’ll grant you that, but you’re not in the form of an owl, you’re a woodpecker, so work with it.”

“Be nice to me Boss.”

“Why should I?”


I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 192, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

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