A musician was on tour in the south of England and played a little folk club gig in Eastbourne. As often happens that night he was invited to stay at the home of the organisers, an Australian couple, Jayne and John. He knew them slightly from previous gigs at their venue, but he’d never had occasion to stay with them before. They seemed like nice folks, however, both vegetarian, health-food, fitness types, but none the worse for that.
After the gig he drove to their house, following their tail lights through winding country lanes.
As they walked in through the front door they said the words that no night-owl musician ever wants to hear, “We have to be up early and leave for work at six a.m. sharp.”
His heart fell. It was already past midnight.
Jayne must have seen the look on his face. “Don’t worry.” She smiled kindly. “You don’t have to be up early. Here’s a key. Get a good night’s sleep and get up when you’re ready. The kitchen’s over there. Help yourself to anything you like for breakfast. Just lock the door and post the key back through the letterbox when you leave. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks at Cambridge Festival.”
He was so relieved.
A couple of weeks later, as planned, he met John and Jayne at Cambridge, in the festival bar. After exchanging pleasantries and chatting for a while, Jayne began to look uncomfortable and said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’ve been worried. That night you stayed with us… why didn’t you have any breakfast before you left?”
“Oh, I did,” he said. “I had the muesli.”
Jayne looked puzzled. “We don’t have muesli,” she said.
But they did have a parrot.
Afterwards he realised that for the last couple of weeks he’d been singing much better. But he had begun to long for a blanket over his cage before he went to sleep at night.
Jacey Bedford is a British writer, very excited to have a novel (Empire of Dust) due in November 2014 from DAW as part of a three book deal. She has had short fiction published on both sides of the Atlantic, the most recent being in the Futures 2 anthology (Tor) and in translation (Galician) to Nova Fantasia in Spain.