Summer of the Spotted Owl

Summer of the Spotted Owl by Melanie Jackson

Book: Summer of the Spotted Owl by Melanie Jackson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melanie Jackson
Tags: JUV000000
Galloway girls’ reunion, you might say.
    Now, I don’t mind quality time with the maternal unit. But watching her and Madge slide raw oysters down their throats at the outdoor café was totally gross.
    â€œWhat are you two, contestants on Fear Factor ?” I asked as Mother and Madge proceeded to squeeze lemon over more oysters gleaming in their shells. I could swear the oysters wriggled.
    â€œAt least we’re elegant in our dining choices,” Madge observed. She gave a scornful glance at the lunch I’d ordered: a mega-cheeseburger, bacon, tomato and heaps of onions, and wedge fries. Later I planned to order a huge piece of the butter crumb cake I’d glimpsed on the dessert trolley.
    Then she glunked down a huge oyster, whole.
    â€œElegant” was Madge’s favorite word. Since she used it day in, day out, I ignored her. Instead I reached for the ketchup bottle and splattered ketchup all over my food. The bottle, which was plastic, made a tremendous fthlwp ! sound, just like — well, like you know what. People at other tables shot us distasteful looks.
    Which made the Lonsdale Quay experience, in my view, complete. There we were, at a table in the sun, with Burrard Inlet sparkling next to us, jugglers performing nearby, and the bright colors and yummy scents of the market all around.
    And the heaviness in my heart about having offended Jack. I hadn’t thought he’d continue being mad about the day at the hatchery. But he wouldn’t answer the phone messages I kept leaving at the soac office. They were great messages too — long, emotional and very moving.
    Chomping a huge bite out of my cheeseburger, I removed a pencil and a crumpled paper from my shorts pocket. I started writing.
    Memo to Jack
All the Things I’ve Done for You,
or Why You Shouldn’t be Mad at Me.
    1. I introduced you to Madge.
    2. I am amusing and entertaining.
    3. I always lend a sympathetic ear.
    Beside number three I drew an ear, as a way of proving number two. Back at the Urstads’, I’d fax this gem of a memo to Jack at the soac office.
    Mother leaned over to see what I was writing. “Um,” she said, “is the mountain air maybe a bit rich for you, Dinah?”
    â€œDi’s offended Jack,” Madge tattletaled, smacking her lips over the final oyster. She withdrew a compact from her purse, cracked it open, then moved her face this way and that, checking her porcelain skin. “Mother, at what age should one start using anti-wrinkle cream?”
    â€œMadge, you’re seventeen . Now, Dinah, what did you do to Jack? He’s so nice and easygoing. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to offend him.”
    â€œDinah could offend a saint,” Madge commented, still examining herself in the mirror. The usual self-satisfied smile was beginning to crook the edges of her lips.
    Perfect Madge, who never did anything wrong. All at once I was furious. If I’d stopped to think, I would’ve realized it was the Jack situation that had me upset, not Madge and her perfection.
    But I rarely stop to think. It slows the momentum, I find. I lifted the ketchup bottle again. “Here’s some anti-wrinkle cream for you,” I said, aiming.
    Sssppplllaaattt !
    I missed out on the butter crumb cake. I got sent home in a cab.
    Well, not home home. The Urstads’. I sat on the curb, chin in my hands, half-wishing I’d never come to North Van to keep Madge company. All the visit had got me was a cheesed-off future brother-in-law and a wrecked, stolen turtle. Zilch, in fact.
    I grew progressively sorrier for myself until tires scraped the pavement in front of me. A small pink convertible pulled over and parked to my right. From the driver’s seat, Zoë Klapper twisted round, a smile wreathing her doll-like face.
    â€œWhy so glum?” she called.
    I shrugged. “Nothing, except that I have enough family problems to go on Oprah .”

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