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The Bird Saviors by William Cobb (Excerpt)

The Bird Saviors by William Cobb (Excerpt)

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Published by UnbridledBooks

Set in a time of economic turmoil, virus fears, climate change, fundamentalist cults and illegal immigrant hardship, The Bird Saviors is a visionary story of defiance, anger, compassion and unexpected love, in which a young woman ultimately struggles to free herself from her domineering father, to raise her daughter in the chaos of the New West, and to seize an opportunity to become something greater herself. In this brilliant new novel, William Cobb offers an elemental and timely vision of resilience and personal survival, but—most of all—of honest hope.

Set in a time of economic turmoil, virus fears, climate change, fundamentalist cults and illegal immigrant hardship, The Bird Saviors is a visionary story of defiance, anger, compassion and unexpected love, in which a young woman ultimately struggles to free herself from her domineering father, to raise her daughter in the chaos of the New West, and to seize an opportunity to become something greater herself. In this brilliant new novel, William Cobb offers an elemental and timely vision of resilience and personal survival, but—most of all—of honest hope.

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Publish date: Jun 12, 2012
Added to Scribd: Nov 28, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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THE BIRD SAVIORS
 
By William J. Cobb
Excerpt
LORD GOD IS TALKING AGAIN. HE DOES LOVE TO HEARHIMSELF SPEAK. A graybeard loon, he sits hunched over the kitchentable, his arms sunburned, nose hooked, hair thin and wiry, rantinghoarse-voiced about sinners and Socialists. Out the foggy window SmokeLarks flutter liquid as living shadows to perch atop the woodshed. Whenthey settle the morning sun backlights their black silhouettes like burntfigures on a woodcut.Ruby shifts the baby girl in her lap and thinks of the birds, howthey must be cold of a morning like this. She’s seen twelve this week whole. She counts the birds and invents her own names. She knows thatpeople call them by another name, but she calls them Smoke Larks.Swirling in vast flocks in late winter, they look like smoke from a greatfire, burnt souls twisting in the wind. Purple-black, dusky, and speckled,the short-tailed birds scatter among the twisted junipers in the back yard, pecking in the dry hay grass.Ruby began counting all the birds two years before, when she noticedhow quickly they seemed to be dwindling. They are disappearing andsomeone has to note this, to keep it in her mind if nowhere else. Thegoing away of things has to be noted. Especially a thing as perfect as abird, even the squawky Blackjacks, or an old Grief Bird with claws likevoodoo earrings. The world has gone wrong. They pay men to hunt and shoot birds. The fever has the city people spooked. They blame it on the birds, stupidstupid. It’s a shame is what it is. Nothing to do but count to the last one.Ruby hasn’t seen a Moon Bird in over a year, and Squeakies are just aflicker of what they used to be.Baby girl Lila tugs at Ruby’s nipple and puts her hand on herbreast. Lord God says the world is Lila’s to inherit and see through to theend. Ruby wants her to grow up in a world of birds and the beauty of 
 
 
spotted feathers. She worries that the last of the birds will be gone beforeLila has a chance to recognize their leaving. Things don’t stay around forever.People don’t either. Like her mother. She’s been gone for two weeksand Ruby can’t take life without her. Life in this house. With its mousescratchings and bacon grease and Book of Mormon on the table. Thesense of Lord God breathing down your neck. Ruby’s eyes well with tearsas Lila’s hand rests against the pale skin of her breast. The baby girl’seyelids blink as if in slow motion, her arms creased with fat wrinkles atthe wrist, fingers splayed like the rays of a starfish.Across the kitchen table Lord God is going on about how he needsto trim the toenails of his one good foot. And the danger of the bears.How in droughts like this they come down from the mountains. How youhave to be careful. They could be out there, lurking behind the woodshed. They can smell bacon five miles away, he says, his voice raspyas a biblical prophet.Ruby turns her face to her pancakes. She doesn’t want to hearsuch nonsense. She doesn’t feel right herself this morning. Her nose hasbeen running and her cheeks feel hot and flushed. She fears the fever,but doesn’t dare say a word. She will pretend Lord God doesn’t exist if forone second he will just shut up. He holds out a plate of bacon and eggs,urges her to eat. He has cooked their breakfast and the least she can dois to enjoy it. She needs to put some meat on her bones, she does, andhe has blessed the food especially for her.She lifts her face and tells him Lila is almost finished feeding, she’lleat in a minute. She speaks in barely a whisper, stares out the windowat the parched fields of prairie and high desert, the Sierra Mojada in the west turning pink with the sunrise, above it a wall of dark curdledclouds. Opposite the mountains comes the day’s light casting its longmorning shadows onto rabbit bush, sage, and bunch grass.Behind the shed the crooked wooden fence posts lean this way andthat like tombstones on a wind-bitten hillside. Lord God’s land is milesoutside of Pueblo, off Red Creek Road West. The edge of nowhere, its faceto the hills and back to the town, true to his isolation-scenario mindset. The fence is a last stand before the coyote howls of emptiness beyond.

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