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Slim Randles' Home Country


Doc was out back of his place the other day, pruning his grapevines with the kind of precision only a semi-retired practicing surgeon can do. Steve was standing nearby, sipping coffee and watching Doc work. Doc makes good coffee.

There was a rasping sound then, dopplering over Doc's yard from east to west. Doc, without looking up, said, "Morning Wheezer."

"Didn't catch that, Doc."

"That's ol' Wheezer," Doc said, waving his hand up toward the heavens. "Didn't you hear him? Mourning dove. Lives here and in the yards on either side. Something's wrong with his voice."

"Ah," said Steve, the cowboy philosopher. He nodded and tried to look wise, but only managed a tilt-headed owl look. But at least he does it well.

Doc sat back and smiled up at Steve. "Ol' Wheeze there, he's been around for three years I know of. When he flies over, I always say hello to him. Must be getting old, talking to doves, huh?"

"What's wrong with his voice?" Steve asked.

"I'm no vet," said Doc, "but if you'll go catch him, we can check him out."

They both laughed.

"The only reason I know he's a he is because I saw him courting this cute little lady dove this spring. She thought his raspy ol' voice was charming and wonderful," Doc said.

"He goes over on Vivian's roof sometimes, and then back over to Rob's place, but mainly he lives on my roof and in the tree branches."

Steve owled up his face and was philosophizing real hard, as anyone could see.

"Whatcha thinkin', Steve?"

"Just occurred to me, Doc," he said. "You've learned a lot about this bird, and have made him your friend, in a way. And you've been able to follow his actions and family life and everything. And none of that would've been possible if ol' Wheezer didn't have a speech impediment. Without that, he'd be just another bird. Looks like one time when a handicap made life a bit more interesting."

"It happens that way sometimes," Doc agreed.

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