The security guard ambled past her and the dove. A dove that had become trapped somehow in the airport terminal. She tossed a peanut on the floor behind his back, and it landed inches away from the heel of his black-polished boot. He never noticed, but the dove did, and it pecked the peanut to pieces and hungrily gobbled it down.
It was like this everywhere they went. She loved to feed birds, and never paid heed to local prohibitions, or signs that explicitly commanded, “Do not feed the birds!”
Her husband dared not participate in this illicit indulgence of the dove. She had an uncanny knack for never getting caught. But he was never so lucky, or skilled, or blessed, or whatever you might want to call it. She would always play the role of Eve and offer the forbidden temptation to him, in the form of bread from a loaf sack, or a spare hot dog bun, or perhaps a morsel from a restaurant doggy bag.
But he, fearing he would be caught, and appreciating the reasons behind the bird-feeding proscriptions, always declined. He would leave this venial and pleasurable sin to his wife, for her sole amusement during their travels. However, he would serve as lookout for any watchful security guards, thus committing the crime of accomplice to avian gluttony and underfoot birdshit.
There was this one occasion however, when he accepted a slice of day-old bread from his bird-loving spouse, outside a casino. He cast a wary glance over his left shoulder, then began shredding the bread and tossing it to several hungry geese and ducks, honking and quacking at his feet. Within seconds his delight was interrupted by the voice of a security guard over his right shoulder. “Sir, do you see that sign there? We don’t want people feeding the birds, sir.”
“Oh, sorry,” he replied, feeling embarrassed while glancing at the prominent sign two feet away. “I didn’t notice that,” he obviously lied. They walked away hangdog. Once they were out of the guard’s earshot his wife began cackling uncontrollably. Disbelief seized him. “I don’t know how you always get away with it! The one time I try, I’m busted, just like that.”
Forty-plus years of marriage and vacations passed, and never once was she caught feeding birds. But he never tried it again. Then a few years after feeding the peanut to the dove in the airport, her spirit took flight like a dove and she left him grounded and alone.
He missed her and their vacations together. He took to traveling alone, haunting their favorite travel spots. It helped him feel close to her.
He always carried a bag of chips, crumbs, stale bread, or some other such treat. And when a bird drew near, he took no heed to warning signs or other prohibitions. He never turned away a hungry bird. He felt her presence very close to him at these times.
And perhaps her closeness was why he was never caught.