After a minute, and no sound above, Victor crawled out from beneath the table. He checked and saw all the balls were back on the felt.
“I reckon that’s it,” he said, stroking his chin. He looked around the ceiling at the gum tree branches. “Now I just need a way to—”
He noticed the nest in one of the branches was empty. Victor froze for a second, and then reanimated as a tornado of paranoia. He swept up the broken pool cue in his hand and then tore around the room, checking the branches, under the table, behind the bar, back under the table, looking to every corner of the room, to the ceiling, and all the time spinning around to check behind him. A sudden whoosh above sent him diving in panic to the floor, where what felt like a runny omelette slapped him in the back of the neck.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” He got to his knees and looked with disgust at the white slime drooling down his shoulders. “Gross! Giant bird sh**.”
As he knelt there another omelette dropped from the sky and landed on top of his head. He leapt up and hurled the vilest abuse he could conjure at the offending bird, who glided a wide circle over Victor’s head and then flapped back up to its nest.
“Damn it! It’s all in my hair. You birds are disgusting!”
He ran to the bar, grabbed the biggest bottle he could find from the shelf, and then ran back out to the far corner of the room. He glanced at the old grey label on the bottle then turned to the magpie up in the nearby branch.
“Hope ya like rum, ya filthy vulture!”
Stretching his right arm back like a catapult, he prepared to launch the glass payload, but then stopped. He looked again at the label.
“Huh.” A vindictive smile crept over his faeces-drizzled face. “That’s a better idea.”
He stepped over to the pool table. With a sweep of his arm he sent the balls rolling and clacking into each other; a sextet of threatening bird calls whistled in the branches. He looked up.
“Say goodbye to your eggs, ladies.”
He set the bottle of “Angry Rattlesnake” rum down on the table, and left the room.
In the hall, Victor opened the bathroom door and poked his head inside. “Getting there,” he said, and closed the door.
He walked down the hall to the linen closet. Inside, he took a towel and wiped as much magpie droppings as he could from his face, neck and shoulders (when it came to his hair, he succeeded only in mashing the muck in more thoroughly). Taking two striped pillow cases in his hand, Victor left the closet and went to the very end of the hall, and entered the room with the fireplace.
Twenty minutes later, Victor re-entered the hall, carrying a loaded pillow case in each hand. He walked up the hall to the bedroom and retrieved his socks containing the pythons.
“I’ve got a job for you,” he said.
He took a navy blue, king size sheet from the linen closet, gathered up his socks and the pillow cases, and returned to the pool room.
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