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Conversations with Albert

Two ski masks, please

by Debbie McNaughton

"Good morning, Al. Hazelnut today? Yeah, Yeah, sometimes you feel like a nut…sometimes you don't. Let's see what the crows are up to today."

"No, I'm not referring to Mrs. Wu and her Tai Chi group!"

Albert, my Einstein coffee mug and beloved companion, maintains his dead pan grin.

CAW, CAR, CAR! A shrill melody pierced my ears.

"Well, well, well. It appears Dumbo's gang checked in at the Dead Pine Inn beside the Mitchell's house. Geez Louise, they sound like they spent the night at the Crow Bar, a group of comedians high on road kill speedballs."

"Hey guys, that car joke died years ago, why don't you fly down to Dunkin Donuts and get some Cawfee!"

"Wipe that glaze off your face, Al."

"Hey look, Dave's in his backyard with a bucket of golf balls. Wonder what's up?"

"Ohhhhh boy, I see we've got a front row seat for the game. He's pretending to be 17 again. There's the wind up…the famous south paw pitch… and …cripes he missed every one of them!"

"For heaven's sake, Dave, can't you throw better? Where's the old American Legion 90 mph fast ball?" I holler through cupped hands.

Dave tips his hat and gives us a thumbs-up. Digging into the dirt with his worn sneakers, he does his best John Lester imitation: he looks to the left, then to the right, and hurls… a perfect no hitter! He even misses the one hundred foot pine tree.


"Way to go Dave, you're as blind as a bat in the daylight!"

Disillusioned, Al and I return to the kitchen.

"Care for a croissant?" The professor's not much of a breakfast kind of guy, so I grab two, warm them in the microwave and eat the second one for him, while I keep an eye on Dave through the kitchen window.

"Al, you're the genius. Explain the purpose of this wicked bird. Besides being a head dress for Johnny Depp and a side kick of witches, what good are they?"

Al gives me a puzzled look.

"I'm sorry, too complex a question for you? Never mind, let's Google."

Crows rid the neighborhood of nestlings and murder with relish.

They are predators, scavengers, herbivores.

They have impressive memories and can recall a human face for a lifetime. Those who ruffle their feathers could experience years of retribution!

They assemble at night in flocks before they roost and chatter the notes of the day.

"Remember when I left the garage door open and three crows swooped in and ripped my trash apart? I bet those con artists flew back to their nest, crossed their scrawny legs over the side, and had a good caw with their mates:

Hey, Carl, good eats at the ranch house on the corner, be there at 7:45 am. Easy pickings for ten minutes.

Yo, Carmen, be on Forrest Road after 2 tomorrow. The squirrels never run fast enough on dump day. Watch out for the car, car, cars.

Carlton, did you see the new robins moving into the old maple, three blocks up on the left, behind the pink Barbie doll house? Give em' a few weeks, once the eggs hatch…their all yours.

"Al, I think I'll buy a ski mask. Better to be safe than sorry after my tactical use of the broom on them. Never trust birds with a photographic memory, I always say."

"Professor, wake up! Are you listening to me?" I'm convinced my coffee mug has ears. A writer's life can be lonesome.

"The other day, rocker dude, the keeper of the past who blasts the neighborhood with all the Beatles music at the end of the cul-de-sac, took his old dog for a walk past the dead pine. Sure enough, the flock of crows got their feathers ruffled and chased him home.

The next day his dog stared down a huge crow sitting on the bird feeder. Now that abomination squats on the porch rail. His beady eyes remain fixed on the dog through the slider, while doing his best De Niro: "You wanna piece of me...You wanna piece of me?"

"There's gotta be a way to get rid of these jail birds!"

Al concurred and we reviewed our options.

Three days later, an earsplitting sound jolts me out of my writer's block. Al almost jumps off the mug.

"What the heck?" I grab him and dash to the back porch where an astounding vision greets us.

Al's bewildered expression mirrors mine.

Dave stands at the base of the pine tree gripping a lethal, 32" Husqvarna chain saw for dear life. His wife Mary, dressed in her old Spartan cheerleader's uniform, waves green and gold pom poms above her head cheering her man on.

She bellows:





The terrified crows take flight, circle his house five times, (no doubt to remember his face), and flap away as the pine tree hits the ground with a loud crash. "Way to go Dave!" Einstein and I do the wave.

"Overjoyed, I kiss Al. Well old buddy, it appears the Tai Chi's are the only crows in the neighborhood now!"

Albert blushes from the unexpected kiss.

"I've got an idea. Let's drive down to the store; I think Dave's gonna need a ski mask too."

Debbie McNaughton and Albert E. Mug have lived together for 5 years on Cape Cod. Together they enjoy coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and evenings by the fire with wine.

Einstein plans to enjoy Debbie's company and conversation until broke.

Debbie is a writer of short stories drawn from everyday life. She is a regular contributing writer to CapeWomenOnline and has also been published in Seeing the Everyday magazine.

She is a Member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women and a member of Cape Cod Writer's Center.

Debbie welcomes emails at