2nd Prize winner of the 11th Annual Postcard Story Contest.
Ronnie was on the couch watching The Price Is Right. I was on the balcony cooking chicken wings. I had this recipe where I’d deep-fry the wings, then barbecue them while basting them with honey garlic sauce. That sauce you get from the Asian aisle at the Buy-Low, where the white people are. The pigeon sat there looking and not moving, while I applied layer after layer of sauce. The fat dripped down into the flames and sent up waves of thick smoke, coating my glasses. The bird’s eyes followed me. Not in a sinister way, but with the non-chalance of animals. There was sadness to it, like it had seen a lot of things. I brushed Ronnie’s legs off the couch and sat down and watched. Sandra bid $1,365 on a plasma screen and Greg bid $1,366. Kelly and Bret were way off. Greg was closest without going over and got called up to the stage to stand beside Drew Carey. He had a shirt on that said “groom” and the camera kept panning to his new wife, who was terrified. The announcer said that they could win a new car, a Honda Accord with daytime running lights. The game that Greg was going to play was called “That’s Too Much,” where you pick a number that is just above the suggested retail price of the new Honda, then yell “That’s Too Much.” The first number was $19,500. Greg let that one pass. His wife had her hands in her mouth and looked like she had lost a filling. The next number was $20,443. Greg, confident as ever, also let that one go by. Then $21,766 came up on the brightly lit screen and for a moment, Greg wavered. His wife took her hands from her mouth and covered her eyes, unable to watch. Greg yelled, “That’s Too Much!” and the horns blew. He slunk offstage as Drew suggested that he’d see him at the big wheel. Those horns. When my father told me that Nipper got run over by a local insomniac, Mr. Dansword, they blared. When Jenny Thompson said she already had a date for the formal, they bellowed their contralto tune. The noise didn’t say that nothing would ever be the same, but that sometimes things don’t work out. Happiness wasn’t guaranteed. The wings were crispy so I walked out to the balcony and placed them in a pan. The bird was still there. It was raining and I could hear droplets sizzling. Trails of steam moved upwards then faded. I picked off a piece of meat and held it out, slowly moving closer to the bird. It plucked the meat from my hand and flew off. I watched it until it went out of sight, then ate. Greg spun $1 on the big wheel and lost the “Showcase Showdown” to Catherine, who’d very soon be flying coach, round trip, from LA to Costa Rica