Quisling by Lauran Strait

"There, there, poor babies." Elizabeth pats the side of the red Playmate cooler as she stares inside. "Such little ones this time." She fishes out the last of the doves from their bed of dry ice. "What's the world coming to? Broken wings and plucked feathers. Have they no decency?"

Sighing, Elizabeth places the bird on a strip of aluminum foil. She slides the shiny paper around the countertop until it's in a beam of light.

"Time for your sunbath, little one. You look so pale without your feather coat. My, my.

They didn't have to strip you. Such barbarians."

Elizabeth turns away from the tanning dove and frowns at the remaining flock. Nine birds rest on foil strips, laid out in three rows of three-a mini cemetery-atop the granite countertop.

"I know, babies. You never saw this coming. Who would? They plucked you! Can you believe it? I'll make this quick, preserving what I can. It's the least that should be done."

Sunlight through the window limns the wrinkles of Elizabeth's knuckles as she carefully and solemnly folds the foil over each dead dove; she re-adjusts and fusses over the birds until she's satisfied that the recently departed are secured in airtight shrouds.

"Nighty night, sweet ones." Elizabeth coos baby talk babble while she entombs the birds in her freezer, alongside packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts she found on sale for $1 .75-a pound. As she swings the door closed, the light inside the frozen crypt winks out.

"Only two more hours," Elizabeth says to the thawing bird lying in the sunbeam.


I serve you with rice or potatoes?"


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