The Cretaceous Period by Kellye McBride

Editor Sarah Orizaga, Fiction, November 22nd, 2018

"Petunia, like other scavengers, wasn’t afraid of a little biological warfare when her livelihood had been threatened."

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Fiction by Kellye McBride 

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The year we moved into our new building was the same year that wild parrots appeared all over Los Angeles. Speculations arose, some said it was climate change or rougher conditions down south, but I wonder if they didn’t just simply appear like the many other scavengers that flocked to the city. The most vibrant of these parrots we called Petunia. She had many colorful names for us, which escalated when we refused her cigarettes. “Eat shit, cocksucking whore!” was a favorite expression of hers, hurled at adults and children alike. When she wasn’t harassing passersby, she could be found by What Goes Around, Comes Around, a local thrift store. They bought clothes by the pound for cash, Petunia’s main source of income no doubt. The more outrageous things Petunia found she kept for herself, including a puke-green feather boa.

“I like your boa, Petunia,” I said after my daily shakedown for cigarettes or cash for the vending machines outside the 7-11.

“Stupid bitch,” came the reply, a soft growl from under her malt liquor-soaked breath. I liked to think I was special, that she saved that one just for me, but I confess I heard her say it once to Janet, who owned What Goes Around.

That same year we witnessed the foreclosure of the adult video store on Broadway. With streaming services doing so well, even our neighbor Franklin, the orthodox pervert, could enjoy pornography in the comfort of his own home without crossing the street to sit in one of the stained turnstile booths. There was talk of a bakery moving in after the storefront stood vacant for several months. What we hadn’t anticipated, when the bakery finally opened, is how it would set Petunia off even more than the yuppie joggers who hurried away when she accosted them for change.

All I knew about the bakery owners was that they were a nice couple from Minnesota, a detail gleaned from Janet when she walked outside for her cigarette break. “Poor kids,” Janet said, her face partially obscured by a thick cloud of smoke. “Should have stayed there.” Apparently, they threw Petunia out when she started harassing customers, which had been their first mistake. Petunia, like other scavengers, wasn’t afraid of a little biological warfare when her livelihood had been threatened. Petunia stumbled into the alley and Janet went inside, having observed most of the interaction on her break. But she returned once the screaming had started. I had to hand it to Petunia, she had managed to cake both windows with shit before the cops showed up and she disappeared back into the wilds of the city. I wondered what became of her after that. Even after we moved to a different building as the rents staggered, even after Janet was forced to close, I always looked down the alley, hoping to see a puke green feather or hear a low voice whisper “stupid bitch” with a faint whiff of malt liquor.

Did you know that birds are distant cousins of dinosaurs? That if you take away their feathers their bodies are roughly the same shape as those towering monsters that once walked the Earth? Even as they lay extinct and the world gave way to us featherless bipeds, it comforts me to know that some survive, even if they are forced to migrate during the winter.

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Photo courtesy of Cayan Ashley Photography.

Kellye McBride lives in Portland, OR where she teaches philosophy and works freelance as an academic editor. Her work as previously appeared in 1001 at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, and online at Folded Word. Find on Twitter @kellyemmcbride or online at www.kellyemcbrideediting.com.

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Sarah Orizaga

Sarah is a fiction writer living in Portland, OR with her wife and cat. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and a BA in International Development from Portland State University. Sarah is new to the NAILED team and is excited to read fiction that serves the soul through a unique view of the everyday. She is constantly on the lookout for new and emerging voices that explore culture and identity in fresh, positive ways. When she's not reading, writing, or editing you can find her watching true crime series and anything narrated by David Attenborough.