Jess slumped on the couch and stared at Gabby. He sat in his cage, preening his pink and grey belly feathers and ignoring her.
'Stupid galah. What’s the point of a pet bird anyway?'
She’d tried every opener she knew; hello, Polly want a cracker, who’s a pretty bird then? He refused to say a word. Gabby by name, but apparently not by nature.
Jess inherited Gabby when their neighbour, old Mister Silver, died. He didn’t have any family so the councilmen who cleared out his house had knocked on their door and asked if they wanted him.
Jess sighed and turned to stare out the window as she opened her packet of jellybeans. She pulled one out and popped it in her mouth. As she chewed a funny feeling crawled up the back of her neck, like being tickled by a feather. Turning around, she saw Gabby pressed up against the bars, staring at her.
'What? Don’t tell me you eat jellybeans?' Gabby’s head bobbed and his stare didn’t waver.
Jess stood up and moved closer to his cage. She pulled out a red jellybean and held it towards him. He didn’t move. Shrugging she popped it into her mouth.
'I guess you don’t like them after all.' She pulled out a second jellybean and Gabby gave a loud squawk.
Looking down she saw it was purple. She held it out and he gobbled it right from her fingers. Then he opened his beak and spoke.
'Squawk! If it’s treasure ye want then follow my trail. Up the hill behind …'
Jess waited. 'Up the hill behind what?' she asked. But the bird’s beak remained firmly shut. Quickly she fished through the packet for another purple jellybean. This one followed the first into the galah’s belly.
'… the museum, under the tree. A tree unlike the others, a --' Gabby stopped and cocked his head.
Jess thought quickly. There were all sorts of trees up on the hill behind the museum; eucalyptus, a mahogany or two and even a stand of bamboo. Impatiently she rustled through the bag for another purple jellybean. Panic started when she saw only reds and yellows and greens…but there, at the bottom. There was one left.
'They really need more purple ones,' she muttered as she held it out to Gabby.
'… mahogany tree, split in two by lightning. There be John Silver’s treasure.'
Jess’s mouth opened. Mister Silver was a pirate? The name fit but he didn’t have an eye patch or a wooden leg. She supposed a talking galah was as good as a parrot. She popped a yellow jellybean in her mouth and chewed as she began planning. She’d need a shovel to dig and a backpack to carry the treasure. These holidays might not be so boring after all.
Jess peered through the bars at Gabby, back to silently preening his belly feathers and wondered what other secrets he held. Next time she’d try a violet crumble.
B L Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches children about our world by day and writes about other worlds by night. Online she can be found at her blog, Treekeeping.
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