Doctor: Why'd she throw the clock at you Mr. H___?
Wife: Oh, I've already gone over that. When I got home yesterday, there was a ton of—
Doctor: No, I'd like to hear him tell me. Why did your wife throw the clock at you, in your opinion? Go ahead . . . tell us.
Husband: Leave that bit alone for now, doc. Don't give her a hard time. If you want to pin it on somebody, you can blame me. But I really don't care to talk about that clock right now anyway so—
D: Mr. H___ I'm not trying to pin this clock incident on either of you. But throwing a clock, and like you said—a pretty big fucking clock at someone you're married to is akin to making a loud statement. I'd thought we'd try to understand why it happened. I know if a pretty big fucking clock was thrown at me I'd like to figure out why.
Husband: No, I really don't care to understand something like that today. It was my fault because I left all the pine needles from the tree on the floor after I took it out to the sidewalk, so let's leave it at that. I don't think she's really ever done anything wrong if I think about it. I've been the rotten one here, doc.
D: Is that right? Your wife has never done anything wrong then?
H: No, I know she's been wrong about things before, but I mean in our relationship. If we were two high school kids working on a class project together, she'd be the brains and I'd be the slacker. I'm the reason we're here talking to you twice a month and have had as many bad days as we have.
D: How do you feel about that assessment Mrs. H___?
Wife: Well, I don't know. Sad, which makes me a terrible person. And a little worried too. He's been agreeable like this since last night. It's strange, isn't it? He's even tried to hold my hand during dinner and then kissed me on the chin before we went to sleep.
D: You think it's strange that he's been affectionate towards you?
W: Of course I do. It's not very much like him . . . to be so considerate and peppy. Last night at dinner, I've never seen him in such a good mood. Talking about salt and pepper shakers like they were the most interesting things ever invented. And not just that, it's everything. He's excitable by anything he sees. Frozen lakes and green painted light posts. I don't get it. Actually, I didn't think to tell you about any of that . . . the day we had yesterday.
D: And what kind of day did you have?
W: Surprising. I didn't tell you what we found inside the clock after I threw it at him. There was a baby bird inside the clock.
D: There was a baby bird in the clock? Like a real, living bird?
H: One-hundred percent real, doc. What a cute baby bird it was, too. Had this patch of fur on his head that looked like a mohawk and this wild yellow beak. Though the beak might've been broken cuz I didn't hear him use it once.
W: It was very cute, I agree.
D: So, okay, you threw the clock at Mr. H___ but how'd you come to find there was a bird inside it?
W: Well, he happened to notice it among all the pieces of broken clock when he went to broom it up.
H: It was just sitting there in the middle of all that glass and wood. I was afraid it was broken into pieces itself. But no, he was a tough little bird. I picked him up in my hand and he looked up at me with eyes like two little black magnifying glasses questioning everything for the first time.
D: How'd it manage to get in the clock?
H: We don't know. You've never heard of such a thing like a bird stuck in a clock before, have you? Cuz, we haven't. Unless, there's a bird hidden in every clock and nobody thinks to check.
W: He's serious about that last bit. He's not fooling with you. After dinner, we get back to the house and this nut goes checking around in the few clocks we have to see if there were anymore baby birds in them.
D: And did you find any birds in your clocks?
W: Of course he didn't.
H: No, doc, I didn't. But I had to make sure. I guess it was just luck that she threw the clock at me when she did or we'd never have found that poor bird.
D: Okay. So you were lucky to find the baby bird. Why would you say you were you lucky?
H: Because we were given a chance to save him.
D: I see.
W: I didn't think he'd care about the bird. I thought he'd just want to throw it in the garbage and move on and we'd argue about the next thing. It wouldn't have been a shock if he told me to get rid of it or put it out in the yard and leave it on its own.
D: So what did you end up doing with the bird if you didn't toss it away?
W: Well, after the clock smashed and made a mess everywhere, it was awhile before he went to go clean it up. I wouldn't have cleaned it up till night, I was still very upset. So it was maybe a half-hour before he went to clean it up. Then, from the bathroom I heard the strangest thing. It was him talking, but in that cutesy, terrifying voice people use on babies and dogs. I thought my ears were drunk. I walked over to him and there was that little bird there in his palm. It was all very odd. I still can't believe I heard him talking like that to the bird.
H: He was good at tickling my hand, doc. And not even all his feathers were in yet.
D: Did you take it to a vet? A bird that small needs its mother and to be fed properly. There's a lot that could go wrong for a bird that young.
H: We tried to, doc. The assholes over there didn't want anything to do with the short guy. Believe that? We went to two more vets after that and they didn't want him neither.
W: I had to hold him back when the bird kept getting refusing. He was telling the first vet to go fuck himself, it was embarrassing. At the third vet he was threatening to choke the doctors and the secretaries. He said he'd be coming back with a buddy of his who didn't have any feathers. It was all a lie, but still, it was some scene he made. There was a poor dog with a broken back leg who wouldn't stop barking at him.
D: That is unfortunate, but vets must be so busy already. Taking a baby bird off your hands is probably a very low priority for them.
H: So they'd just let it die then? And offer us no advice? That's not right.
W: True, they didn't even give us any ideas as to where we could take it or what to do with it. They flat out said they couldn't do nothing with that bird and left us on our own.
H: By then I nicknamed the short guy, Fuzz. He was as docile as a frozen tire, doc. Sure, his eyes were taking in everything but he was cool about it all, like nothing could get to him. And that kind of mellowed me out. It made me feel like okay, we'll figure something else out then. So we were walking around for awhile and arguing about what to do next. We weren't even sure what birds that small eat. Worms? But then I figured you'd have to chew it up into tiny pieces and I just couldn't do that even as much as I liked him. But then an idea came to me when we were walking around after that third vet. I thought why not look for a bird's nest.
W: It actually made sense to me, too.
D: A bird's nest?
H: Yeah, doc. I thought if we could find a bird's nest and get Fuzz in there, another bird might come to find him and adopt him as his own. I would've kept the short guy myself but she didn't think it was a good—
W: We have no idea how to care for a bird. And a bird that small needs someone to really care for him. We couldn't give him any of that.
D: I tend to agree with you. I'm not sure it'd have survived with just you two. I would think it needs a mother. Did you eventually find the nest?
H: Doc, it took us a long time. Four hours of going around to different parks and looking up at all the trees we came across. We didn't see one nest. But Fuzz was okay with it. Just looking around at everything like he does. At one point, I thought about leaving him with a bunch of pigeons we saw eating together by the lake but I couldn't take the chance. They might just fly off without him and I thought Fuzz didn't seem to care for them. No, a bird's nest must be the best place for him. So we kept looking. We finally found one after the sun went down.
W: You had to see how tall this tree was. Forty feet at least and the nest was almost at the very top of it. He wanted to take the bird and climb the tree like he was King Kong climbing up the Empire State Building. I told him there was no way he was getting all the way up there. Especially since Fuzz was going to be with him. But he didn't want to listen.
H: It was tall doc, but I've climbed trees before, used to do it all the time when I was a kid. So I thought I could do it, no problem. The only thing was that it was freezing out. I was nervous my hands might slip off the bark or that my foot might slide off some ice and me and Fuzz would go traveling a long way down.
W: I told him we could wait until tomorrow to find another nest that wasn't so high.
H: I didn't want to wait. I wanted Fuzz to find a new family already. So I secured him in my jacket pocket and started to climb the tree. I took the first few steps slowly to make sure it wasn't too frozen. It was okay, so I started to climb up—
W: I couldn't watch them. I put my hood over my eyes and hoped I didn't hear anything fall.
H: I was fine for most of the way up. It was only about halfway that my hands got cold. But I felt so close to the nest that I had to keep going. I had the small guy in my pocket, so close to a new family, I couldn't let him down. So I kept on going, hands frozen and hurting. I got up near the nest and used my last bit of strength to hold onto the tree with one hand and used my other hand to fetch Fuzz from my pocket. I got him out and gave him one last look and he was looking right back at me, like nothing could bother him, not even some lunatic who was climbing a tree and holding him in his frozen hand as he barely holds onto some tree bark forty feet up off the earth. Then I just said a little something to him and—
W: You talked to him up there? What'd you say?
H: I just said that he was okay. That he was stuck in clocks before and had been thrown into walls, been turned away from three different vets and now life was going to be okay, that he should just keep looking around the world like he does. Kept it short just like him. Then I placed him in the nest and started my way back down.
D: Were there any birds in the nest?
H: No. It was empty, but it looked full and cozy. I was sure another bird would be back real soon. Doc, do you think Fuzz was adopted? I'm not sure how birds work.
D: I honestly can't say.
H: I hope birds have hearts. I can't see myself ever going back there to see what happened. I hope they took him.
W: I'm sure he's doing fine.
H: Doc, I been thinking maybe this whole marriage happened just for Fuzz. So we could take care of him and send him off on his way and get him to keep going on. You can't tell me he was stuck in that clock for no reason.
D: You sound like a parent Mr. H___. And I like your theory, but it's interesting you didn't look at it the other way around. That maybe the bird existed solely for your marriage.
H: I don't even know what kind of bird he was, doc.
W: It was a sparrow.
H: You think so?
W: I do.
D: We should do our next session at the park you took him to, I'd bet you'd like that Mr. H___.
H: Imagine that. I was thinking in bed last night, that every bird I ever see again, I'm gonna wonder if it's Fuzz. It's a nice feeling, doc.
W: Does this mean anything for us? He's so much . . . happier now. Do you think he'll stay like this?
D: I don't know. He might. Is it making you anxious to think he'll stay like this?
W: It is. I'm afraid we won't be the same. I really think I like to argue with him. Sounds awful, I know, but it's what we do. We've always been very good at that.
H: Listen, after we leave here, we're going to buy a new clock to replace the old one. We could argue about what kind of clock we should get. Okay?
W: Sounds like a start, I guess.
H: Good. I love you.
W: Don't say that, it doesn't sound right.
H: I love you, I love you, and wait . . . I love you.
W: Can we be done for today, doctor?
D: Sure. Time is almost up anyway. Let me know Mr. H___, are you gonna check that new clock you buy for any birds?
H: Of course. I don't think I'll ever be able to stop that, doc.
Christopher Cassavella is a recent graduate from Kingsborough Community College where he received his degree in Liberal Arts and currently attends Brooklyn College. Some of his short stories have appeared in Buffalo Almanack, Tincture Journal, and Front Porch Review. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.