Ah, those good old Cape May days… by Jackson D’Catur
I cannot look at a butterfly without a tear springing to my eye. Birds, too, move me, except for seagulls (which I regard as the Devil’s Work), and pigeons. I mean, of course, city pigeons: this only became an issue for me when one spring day whilst visiting New York City, I happened to see a pigeon’s foot. It was all clubbed and tattered, and the beast was limping like a one-legged bilge rat. And then I looked closely at another, and saw the same. And another, and another, and all were in some way horribly maimed. From that day on, I see a pigeon and cannot help but look at its feet. And now that I have told you, you too will be cursed to only see the ugliness.
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, my love of our winged friends.
It was not always thus, and that, dear hearts, is why I can weep at the sight of a Red Admiral, and choke to see a humble sparrow. For once, I was a terrible hunter of all things that flew, walked, crawled or hopped across this fine nation, and most things that swam past it, too.
Ernie Hemingway and I used to sit out on the Point with a rack of guns and a couple of serving men to load, with a bottle of fine malt between us, and fire until the skies were empty and our trigger fingers blistered. In the end, we dusted off a World War II flak gun I had stolen from atop Hitler’s bunker, and we caused such mayhem that the Navy sent a Phantom jet to see us off with a napalm bomb.
So what changed me? The day a single surviving butterfly landed on my nose, and Ernie, in his blood rage, turned his elephant gun on me. For an eternity I gazed past the tiny trembling wings and down the engraved barrel, and I realized this is how every last butterfly must feel. Eventually Ernie lowered the gun, thank heavens, and I struck him down with my fist, making every effort not to disturb that butterfly as I did so.
From that moment on, I took excellent care of my little friend, watching him grow to full adulthood, and then grow old. We had a fine full life together, and when he finally passed away, I had him stuffed by the world’s finest taxidermist and made him into a splendid brooch, which the Late Mrs D’Catur wore to wide acclaim and much coverage in the fashion pages of the best periodicals.
From then on, I turned the gardens of the D’Catur Mansion into a sanctuary for all things winged, save of course seagulls. I sometimes admit pigeons, but only if they consent to wear little boots to hide their deformed feet.