Astropup and the Parrot in Love
Dedicated to Elin and Ingrid Bowman
Story by Bertie (and illustration by Bertie).
Read in the voice of Astropup by Richard Scott.
Proofed & audio edited by Jana Elizabeth.
When you spend as much time travelling through outer space as I do, it’s hard to meet that special someone, your one true love.
Of course, Marlow and the parrot are my best buddies, but I regret that I’ve never found a mate for life, and a mother for my puppies.
At least the parrot has tried. I remember it well. We were on a long journey. He had been deep in thought, silent for several weeks, perhaps months, because time is very confusing when you are hurtling through space. Then out of the blue he declared:
“I have reached an important crossroad in my life. It is high time that I found myself a wife.”
“But where in the Universe are you going to find one of those?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Marlow, “We are 300 million miles away from the nearest planet, and they probably don’t even have birds there.”
“Well,” said the parrot, “I shall begin my search for true love on the intergalactic dating site.”
“I am taking out an advertisement to let it be known that I am available for marriage. What do you think of this?”
“A unique, an extraordinary eclectus parrot, male, 7 years of age, with glorious plumage and genius level IQ, seeks an exceptional female companion to join him on his journey towards total mastery of the known universe.”
“Great,” I said. “That will go down a treat. What bird could resist a mating call like that?”
“Glad you agree,” said the parrot looking into his little mirror. “I am quite a catch, am I not?”
Surprisingly, however, he did not receive any immediate replies. It was only after goodness knows how much more time that his face lit up one day and he announced: “Eureka! She is the one for me!”
He pointed a claw to the screen above his desk.
Up there we saw a picture of a parrot with striking red feathers.
“That’s a true cutie-pie,” said Marlow.
“And she has brains to match her beauty. We have been messaging each other, and she agrees with everything I say.”
“Wow, she must be smart,” I said. “I can’t even understand what you say, let alone agree with it.”
“When’s your first date?” asked Marlow.
“Date?” said the parrot. “She’s a well brought up bird. I’m going to meet her family and ask their permission to take her out to nibble on a few cashew nuts.”
“But what if they say no?” I asked.
The parrot did a little hop from one foot to the other. It was a habit of his, when something bothered him. “Awwww Astropup, you’ve hurt his little feelings,” said Marlow. “Of course they won’t turn him down. Who wouldn’t want our friend the parrot, as a son-in-law?”
As it happened, the parrot’s sweetheart lived on the other side of the galaxy. Fortunately, we found a wormhole to take us there via a shortcut. I’ve mentioned wormholes through space before. One the one paw, they are GRRRRRREAT because they get you to places real quick. On the other paw, weird stuff goes on down those wormholes, and they are almost always scary.
When we joined this particular wormhole, things got pretty hot.
And then they got pretty cold.
One minute we were panting, and the next we were shivering.
We figured that the wormhole had messed up our spaceship’s air conditioning.
The parrot was preening himself and gazing into his mirror. Then he did something I had not seen a bird do before. I swear that he sneezed. His head went back and forward and made a little noise like, “Atchoo, atchoo.”
His eyes looked all bunged up too. “I feel,” he rasped, “as sick as a parrot.”
“Oh poor, you,” said Marlow. “I hope it’s not bird flu.”
“It’s just a cold,” said the parrot in a croaky voice. “But I am not at my best for the all important first meeting with my potential fiance’s parents.”
We exited the wormhole near the planet Lizardia. We orbited a couple of times, checking for any life signs of cat people, before our ship’s automatic systems took us down through the atmosphere. Entering a world’s atmosphere is always the worst part of space travel. The friction with the air makes the sides of the spaceship red hot, and if your aircon is dodgy, it’s pretty uncomfortable inside, I can tell you.
For those of you who’ve not been to the planet Lizardia, or watched a documentary about it on the Space Channel, I had better describe it.
It feels pretty familiar to us earthlings, because they have cities with streets and houses and parks, and what people call civilisation. I did not see any dog like creatures. But up in the trees, lots and lots of birds are perched. Specifically there are parrots, cockatoos, and budgies, or at least feathered friends who are pretty close to them.
The streets are filled with creatures who are in many ways like earth people. They walk on two feet, wear clothes, and lug around shopping bags with goodies from the super markets. In some other respects they are quite different from humans. For instance, they are lizards.
Our spaceship landed in the middle of a big park. It was very like an earth park, apart from the fact that there were families of lizards, rather than humans, walking and playing and enjoying the sunshine.
“This place looks great,” I said, as I pressed my nose against a porthole. “Which tree does your sweetheart live in?”
“Her address is far more prestigious than a tree,” said the parrot. “She lives in a large town house. I’ve seen a picture. The park is in the best part of town, and the house is not far away.”
We passed through the park, and walked along the streets teaming with two legged lizards. From my dog’s eye view I noticed their scaly feet because they don’t wear shoes. If I looked up I noticed their long tongues flicking out of their mouths, especially on street corners where there were often large funnels supplying green flies into their air to provide free snacks to passers by.
Eventually we found the house made of wood. As the parrot had said, it was pretty impressive, although, like many of the buildings, it was painted green, which is not to my taste. Marlow pressed the doorbell.
“I must confess,” said the parrot, “that I feel a trifle nervous.” I noticed then that his voice was unusually croaky. I put it down to his understandable apprehension before meeting the parents of his would-be love.
The door was opened by a lizard boy who called out: “Mum, the weird aliens who want to buy Polly are here!”
We could understand him, because we have a special squawk box for translating languages. It’s something we picked up on our travels.
He showed us into what must have been their living room. As we came through the door we heard a ‘squawk!’ and a fluttering of feathers. It was Polly of course. A moment later we caught sight of her flaming red feathers. She was pressing her beak through the bars of a bell-shaped cage. Our parrot acknowledged her with a nod of his head.
The lady lizard of the house came into the room. She offered us refreshments from the side table, including slimy green water and flies, which we politely refused.
“So,” she said to Marlow. “I am told that this young parrot is a genius.”
“That’s sure right Ma’am,” replied Marlow. The squawk box translated everything.
“Well then,” said the lizard lady. “Let’s hear him talk.”
I know our parrot very well, and I could see from the look in his eyes that he found this lizard lady infuriating. He opened his beak and I feared that he was about to give her a piece of his extraordinary mind. I was actually relieved when the only sound to come out of his throat was a little rasp, “ahem.”
He tried to speak again, “QUWISSHHH!” and he hopped from one leg to the other in frustration, fluttering his wings, and nodding his head. I had never seen him act quite like this.
Marlow spoke up, “I should have mentioned ma’am, that he’s got a cold. I think he must have lost his voice.”
“What’s he trying to say?” asked the lizard lady.
“I believe he was planning to explain how we came to your planet using the laws of motion discovered by an Earth Scientist called Sir Isaac Newton.
“You must think that we lizard people are gullible,” she replied crossly. “But I can see that your parrot is dumb.”
“Struck dumb by love at first sight,” suggested Marlow.
But the lady was clearly unimpressed. She remarked, “From the way he hops around, I would say that he is quite a silly bird. He is an unsuitable partner for our Polly. Good Day.”
We were shown the door.
“Well I think that turned out as well as could be expected,” I said when we were back out on the street.
“What do you mean?” said Marlow. “It was a disaster. For the first time in his life, our friend, the parrot was unable to speak a word!”
“Yes,” I said. “But just imagine if he had spoken. We’d still be there now, listening to him go on and on about mathematics and physics.”
“Well, you have a point,” said Marlow.
The parrot’s normally green face was almost scarlet with frustration. Eventually he managed to rasp: “I have never been so humiliated in all my life!”
“Just forget about her,” advised Marlow. “There are plenty more birds in the trees!”
“How can I forget that expression of hope in her eyes when she saw me enter the room? She is a prisoner of the lizards in that gilded cage! I must rescue her!”
“Hey, steady on,” said Marlow. “How do you know she wants to be rescued?”
“Our eyes met and they spoke the language of love,” replied the parrot. “It is the universal language that is understood by birds everywhere.”
When the parrot comes across a problem, he chews and chews on it, until he cracks it open. He was lost in thought all the time we walked back to the spaceship. Eventually he broke his silence and said, “Here’s the plan. I fly into the lizards house through the window, open the cage with the key that is in the mantelpiece, and escape with Polly back to the spaceship.”
“Brilliant!” I said, “I always knew you were a genius.”
“That’s what the ladies love most about me,” replied the parrot.
As it happened, the parrot’s plan worked perfectly. Marlow and I waited anxiously by the spaceship until we saw the lovebirds flying towards us. We immediately climbed aboard the ship and started the countdown. The eloping pair of parrots soon joined us. Marlow closed the airlocks and fired the lift-off rockets.
As soon as we had left the planet’s atmosphere, the parrot gave his fiancés feathers a tender little peck. He looked more smug than I have ever seen, and that’s saying something. He gazed a beady eye at Polly and said, “You and I, my love will be half way across the universe before they have even noticed that you are gone.”
And Polly replied, “How can one be half way across the universe? The universe goes on forever and cannot therefore have a mid way point.”
“Is that not a little pedantic, Polly my love?” he asked.
“Above all else, I value precision in a parrot,” she replied.
Our love struck parrot looked a little put out by this put down, but he recovered his composure enough to say, “For you, my precious, I can be precise to any point you like. Would you like me to recite Pi for you to 100 decimal places? Like so: 3.14159 26535 89793…
“Stop stop!’ She pleaded. You are being boring. Can’t you entertain me? Say something funny.”
The parrot looked puzzled. To be honest, jokes are not really his thing, but to impress Polly he would stop at nothing. He told her the following joke.
“A parrot was in a pet shop with a string attached to each leg when a man walked in looking to buy a pet. A shopkeeper came over and started to try and sell him a dog when the man noticed the parrot. He asked what the strings were for and the shopkeeper replied, "Well, if you pull the right string the parrot says, 'Polly wanna cracker'. If you pull the left string it says, 'my name's Sam'. The man being of the inquisitive nature tried both and thought it was really neat, but was still curious. So he asked what would happen if he pulled both strings, the parrot piped up, “I'd fall off the perch you idiot!”
“Hmm, that joke shows your insensitivity,” said Polly. “You must think that I am an inferior parrot because I was a pet kept in a cage.”
“No, no, my love, that is not so,” pleaded my friend the parrot. “My heart went out to you. That is why I flew to your rescue!”
“You were late,” she said. “And you did not apologise. You were probably too busy chatting up some other bird on the way.”
Our parrot sighed and his girlfriend sulked. She munched on cashew nuts and dropped all the shells so they went floating around the weightless spaceship. Marlow and I looked at each other. He tried to peck her affectionately and she flinched and told him he had bad manners. He began to read the encyclopaedia and she complained that she was bored. He asked if she knew any quantum physics and she told him not to be so patronising. And so it went on.
After a while Marlow whispered to me, “You know Astropup, I don’t think there is much chemistry between these two birds.”
“No,” I said. “Nor any history.”
“Between you, me and the lamppost,” said Marlow, “I don't think it is going to last.”
And that is where we leave this story of Astropup, called ‘Astropup and the Parrot In Love.”
Do you think the romance between the parrot and Polly will blossom or fade? Tune in soon to another edition of Astropup to find out.
And I'm delighted to dedicate this Astropup story to Elin and Ingrid Bowman. Elin has been listening to our stories since she was 4 or 5 and has since transformed into a teenager. She is especially a fan of our Katie stories and her younger sister Ingrid likes Astropup too. Oh, and I must give mention to their two cats, Hildi and Pocket. Elin gave Pocket her name because she arrived in her Mothers’ jacket pocket! Thank you so much to your whole family, including your parents, Brad and Stephanie, for supporting us on Storynory, and being such loyal listeners for so many years!
Thank you again for supporting us.
For now, from me, Richard, at Storynory.com.