Our fruitless search continued. Stilt added a new rotation to the patrols,sending us to a jetty about two miles up the shore. The knot, he said,in an increasingly paranoid tone, might even be capable of sensing oursearch, so it would be best to catch it off guard.
As for me, I kept preparing myself to rat out Stilt and call the condo’sowners. But then I’d see my mom, beaming at him like a teen at a concert, and I’d go kick around the sand instead.
A day later, Stilt went on a late patrol and didn’t return. He showed upthe next morning with the woman he had been talking to in the drumcircle. He gathered us around to introduce her.
“This is Frigate,” Stilt proclaimed. “Née Bridgett.”
She was still wearing the wings. Stilt pinched the tip of one affection-
ately. My mom definitely saw that.
Unlike the many shorebirds I’d studied—the sanderling, the American white pelican, the dunlin—the stilt, at least the one I knew, was notmonogamous in its mating habits. My mom was pissed. She and Stiltretreated into the bedroom, and an hour later we began packing ourthings back into the Subaru.
“He’s a real asshole,” Godwit told us as she and Yellowlegs heavedour bags into the trunk. They loved my mom with the reheated leftoverzeal they used to lavish upon the Lord. Yellowlegs tore out a page fromher planner and wrote down her address in case we were ever in centralArkansas. Even Coot came out to bid us farewell.
“You were like a son to me,” he said, which made me glad I was not
born unto him. “Remember what I told you about the insides of the
He gave me his telescope, which he hung sentimentally around my
neck like a medal, along with my other binoculars.
All at once their walkie-talkies came to life with Stilt’s summonsback to the condo. My mom sat in the driver’s seat, entering our addressinto the GPS. I took the opportunity to call the condo’s rightful ownersand inform them of the squatter situation.
I stepped out of the car and dialed the number. As I listened to thering, I heard another strange sound, like a goat kicking a tuba. I lookedup and there, on the hood of the station wagon, sat Drimble’s purpleknot.
Its eyes were green. Its feathers looked stolen from a king’s impossiblehat.