should be bald, shouldn't it?" I asked. "With quite a lot of wattles
and warts and dewlaps and so forth?"
John and Victor
agreed. But then a curious hassle occurred. One of the birds most noted for its
warts and pimples is the ocellated turkey, a large gallinaceous bird most
commonly seen in Guatemala, with a bleak gobbler head from which its melancholy
eyes stare beadily out of a colored moonscape of those warts and pimples.
Another suggestion was the guan. But guans are a rare and exotic species. One
of them, among the rarest birds in Central America, is the horned guan, which
has protruding from its forehead a red Popsicle-like horn that shines like a
neon tube. When I suggested this appurtenance for the giant cacophonous, Victor
had exclaimed in obvious concern, "Oh, no, no! Let's leave the guans out.
The guans are too rare and splendid. We can't put a guan's horn on the
cacophonous. I don't mind a rhino's horn on him, a very small one, or the
horned lizard's or the horned viper's—why, the lizard and viper have
several—but let's leave the guans out. They are," he said with an air of
finality, "exempt." He poked furiously at the fire.
give him a teen-ager's pimple rather than a guan's," Rowlett quickly
its habits?" I asked, to get Victor off the guans.
cacophonous goes in groups," Victor said. "It hangs around
miniature-golf courses and in the back lots of industrial plants. Wherever you
have man coming in and destroying the natural habitat, you have the giant
cacophonous waddling in after him, attracted by the sound of saws, jackhammers
and the suck of pumps, things of that sort."
"What does it
eat?" I asked.
everything," Victor said gloomily. "Garbage, French fries. Occasionally
you can spot the cacophonous under cars in drive-ins from where they can emerge
on those lily-trotter feet and ingest bits of French fries that get dropped
from car-window trays. Omnivorous. Do you know how a hummingbird tantalizes a
flower blossom? So delicate? But this thing, the cacophonous, comes along and
eats the whole flower. Chomp!"
the hummingbird with it," Rowlett offered.
"If you pick
one up," I said, "he should throw up on you. I understand that's what
happens when you pick up a shearwater."