Bruno had a parrot. He kept it on a stand, in the kitchen, on the first floor. Bruno was only eleven, but he owned a colourful collection of curses.
One day in August, when loud crickets and the scent of lavender filled the air, Bruno’s mother came back from Mass, accompanied by the local priest. She had invited him for coffee. As they climbed the stairs to the kitchen, they were met by a volley of blasphemy and abuse. The clergyman turned round on the stairs and walked out of the house. He headed back to church, without turning round. He was seen muttering something to himself, some say he was praying. That was the last time Bruno’s mother received a visit from a man of the cloth.
In the autumn, after Bruno and his family had returned to town, the parrot flew out of their toilet window, disappearing into the grey morning mist. For days, pedestrians marvelled at a flash of colour hovering from one tree to another, on the edge of traffic. And pigeons were startled to find their exotic relative joining their feeding frenzies in the park.
The last time Bruno’s parrot was spotted, it was perched atop a bus stop sign, during rush hour, stuttering insults at commuters waiting to get home. “F-F-F-Faggot! B-B-B-Bitch! T-T-T-Turd!” Everybody pretended not to see or hear the bird, apart from a young boy, who started pointing at it and laughing loudly. His mother tried to stop him while covering the boy's ears with her hands. She was relieved when the bus came. They all were.