The hangin’ bird


So there I was, minding my own business. . . then I turned the corner, and saw this illegal alien hanging from a tree in the backyard!

Okay, maybe a little back story is in order here. The illegal alien in question was an itsy-bitsy guy nicknamed Pajaro. For those of you without my ethnic background or meager language skills, “pah-ha-ro” is Spanish for bird. Pajaro earned his nickname by virtue of being about five foot three and ninety pounds. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll call him Birdy.

Birdy was an interesting guy. I arrested him several times, mostly for being drunk in public or harassing his ex-girlfriend. Whenever I arrested him for being drunk, he would slam his forehead against the car door, prisoner cage, cell door or steel bunk beds. For those of you yelling “police brutality!,” no, I don’t mean I would hit his head against things and say he hit himself. I mean he would literally bang his head on things.

But damaging things with his head wasn’t Birdy’s only talent. He was also very creative with names, especially his own. The third time I arrested Birdy he identified himself as something like “Juan Jose Gomez Garcia.” I pulled his prisoner record and found only one arrest report in it. I thought, “Whoa, hang on. I know I personally arrested him twice, and other officers have arrested him too.” So I pressed him about his name, and he said he sometimes went by “Juan Jose Garcia Gomez.” So I searched and found another prisoner record with that name. Then another one with “Jose Juan Gomez Garcia.” Then another one with “Jose Juan Garcia Gomez.” By the time I was done searching I had found seven prisoner records on Birdy.

But anyway, on this particular boring as hell weeknight I was patrolling around the city, trying not to fall asleep. This was in a small, usually quiet town. I was driving in circles hoping something at least mildly interesting would happen, when I got this radio call:

“51, report to 315 Maple street. Caller reports a male hanging from a tree at a house. He says the male has been hanging and screaming for help for five minutes.”

Needless to say, I perked up. I was still a rookie at that time, and never had a call like that before. And come to think of it, I’ve never had one like it since. So I spun the car around and hauled butt to 315 Maple (which was not the real address, by the way). Two minutes later I screeched to a stop in front of the house as the only other officer on duty that night flew in from the opposite direction. We jumped out of our cars and shined our flashlights into the trees just as a perplexed-looking woman opened the front door.

I didn’t see anyone hanging from a tree. The woman asked, “What are you doing here?” I answered, “Someone called and said a guy was hanging from a tree at this house.”

 Taken aback, she blurted, “What? There’s nobody hanging from a tree here!”

Right around this time I started to think, Geez, another BS call about nothing. And then I heard a squeaky voice cry “Help!” from the backyard.

We exchanged stunned expressions. The look on this woman’s face told me she hadn’t lied to me, she really didn’t know anything about someone hanging from a tree at the house. We sprinted around the corner to the backyard. When I got there, I had to stop and just stare in amazement at what I saw.

Birdy was hanging there, screaming his little head off, trying to pull himself back up the rope. I remember freezing in place and saying, “What the f. . . ?” before my backup officer slapped my shoulder and yelled, “Let’s go, hurry up!”

I’m going to back up and give a few more details. Some of this I didn’t see myself, it’s pieced together from interviews with the involved parties. But here’s what happened:

The woman who came out the front door didn’t live at the house, she was a friend of the owner. The owner was Birdy’s ex-girlfriend, or “lover” as she put it. I’ll call her Maria. She was about two inches taller than Birdy, twenty years older and a hundred pounds heavier. Birdy was apparently quite the sex god, but he was such a drunken fool Maria dumped him. After the split, he kept coming around and begging her to take him back. On this night Maria’s friend, the one who answered the door, was visiting. Birdy showed up and promised to behave, and they let him in. Then he started his usual moronic behavior, so they waited until he went outside to smoke and locked him out. Crushed, Birdy pounded on the door for over an hour and wailed for Maria to open the door.

“Maria, I loh hyou! Why you no loh me? Por favor, lemme een!”

Maria and her friend turned the stereo up to drown out the cries and continued playing cards. Then Birdy sprinted past a window, and a few seconds later a police car drove past the house. Turns out that was me, checking Maria’s house because Birdy had a history of bothering Maria. I didn’t see Birdy, but he saw me and ran behind the house. Maria and her friend thought he had hit the road, so they kept jamming out and playing cards. Problem solved.

However, Birdy was not to be so easily dissuaded from getting his ex back. When he got into the backyard his little eyeballs fell onto a solution to this rejection problem. See, Maria was a grandmother. In her backyard she had a rope tied to a tree branch for the kids to climb. Birdy decided he was going to use that rope to teach Maria a lesson!

Birdy climbed the tree. His walnut-sized heart pumped passionate Latin blood through his miniscule body. He reached the limb where the rope was anchored and tied this thick, knotted rope around his scrawny throat. Then, and I’m imagining this part but I bet it’s what happened, he mumbled a curse against Maria, slid off the branch and waited for her to rush outside to rescue him.

Within seconds, Birdy realized his plan had three fatal flaws. First, this rope was actually choking him, instead of just looking like it was choking him. Second, sure he wanted to hang himself, but he didn’t actually want to die from it. Third, Maria’s house had no windows facing the backyard. Maria and her friend couldn’t see Birdy, plus the radio was so loud they couldn’t hear him screaming. So he grabbed the rope, tried to pull himself up and yelled for help. Eventually, five minutes later, a neighbor was so annoyed by the screams he called the police.  

Now we’re back to the point where I ran around the corner and saw Birdy desperately struggling to get the rope off his neck. The other officer and I ran to Birdy, who was pretty high off the ground. The other officer grabbed Birdy’s legs and lifted him a few inches. I had to climb a picnic table to get high enough to cut the rope. I sawed through it with my pocketknife, and Birdy folded up and dropped to the grass.     

We stared at him. He moaned back at us. And at that moment, it began raining buckets.

The other officer and I stood in the rain for a moment before we decided we couldn’t move Birdy. He might have had a neck injury, right? So we and Maria’s friend got under the roof overhang and watched rain drench our poor lovesick little stud. He laid there for about a minute, then got up and joined us. That was a little socially awkward.

An ambulance arrived. Paramedics untied the rope from Birdy’s neck, checked him out and told us, “He’s fine.”

The other officer and I looked at each other. Now what were we supposed to do? Maria sure as hell didn’t want Birdy to stay around her house. This town was so small that we only had two officers on duty, with no supervisor. It was up to us to decide what to do with Birdy. And we knew that if we took him home, he’d come right back to Maria’s. So Birdy went to jail for public intoxication.

Fear not for Birdy’s well-being, readers. Birdy was out of jail, drunk and bothering Maria again a few nights later. All’s well that ends well.

7 Responses to “The hangin’ bird”

  1. 1 Britney E.

    You’re a great writer! Can’t wait to read your book when it comes out.

  2. 3 Manal Broeckelmann

    Your writing style is incredible! You can turn a simple event into a hilarious/interesting scene that would make any reader want to follow your blog and run out and buy your book. Keep it up 🙂

  3. 4 ben castilleja

    Oh this story was awesome unroll the common denominator of the PI!!! I also was the victim of not sure what to do officers!!! Grr….. But overall awesome story make sure u keep sending me the links!

    • 5 Martina Halstead

      I truely enjoy your stories and i get real excited when i get up in the morning and find that you have sent another link!!!! LOVE it!!! The stories are so good! Please please never ever stop writing! You are an awesome writer!!!! Thank you so much!!!

  4. 6 marc

    LOL, I thought it was funny.

  5. 7 JPH

    Good stuff Chris
    Glad to see your taking the time
    You have a real gift of writing

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