There was an Aplomado Falcon, and a Eurasian Eagle-Owl (I want to be an Eagle-Owl!!), and a stately California Condor with wings that could shade half my family. There was a Bateleur Eagle from Africa, with a bright red mask and a piercing squawk that somehow managed to say, "What the fuck?" and "Hey, how you doin'?" both at once. But really, really loudly. Thanks to the really engaging, foul-mouthed grandmother conducting the tours, I now can't look at so much as a pigeon without imagining a Peregrine Falcon diving out of the sun at 242 mph, making straight for this flying little mid-day snack, knocking it out with its knobby talons and grabbing it mid-air, "to take it home for the missus and the kids."
* * * * * * *
The pace of this tour has settled into a relentless gear, the kind that does the high-pitched rattle on the freeway all the time. My poor castmate has just gotten floored by bronchitis, and feeling the descent of this show's energy, even in spite of my best efforts, is painfully expensive to sustain. You can only punch up the energy so far, you can dig down only so much; beyond which there's this wall you hit and then you can see the kids fidgeting in the shadows, you can hear their restive sighs, the older ones start giggling and you realize your puppet's feet are facing the wall while his eyes are looking at you, and your hood is up or your glove is caught on something or the tripod just tipped over in the middle of the show. (Most of these things haven't happened to me onstage... yet.) And then you realize something of what Clinton must have felt as he stepped out of office and sat down to watch the Middle East collapse like a domino stack of folding chairs.
Right now I write from Boise's airport, a plastic little middle-American affair, soft tones of grey in the air-conditioned chill. We cancelled today's shows to let the antibiotics take a whack at things. I'd planned on spending the weekend back in PDX, anyway, and today ended up being a much-needed breathing space.
My flight's overcrowded and, predictably, delayed. My hands are sore from my puppets. I need new boots. Military jets roar past from the Mountain Home AFB, not far from here. I watch the sun go down as the luggage conveyors rumble past, and the ground crew with their light-up wands flag away the massive, lumbering planes. Babies are crying, blond children stare at me, the air turns chill in the sudden evening. I'm going home.
Angels and ministers of grace defend us,