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A Dove Story by Susan Perly
 

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  • (Juan y Hortensia #2)

    The dove Juan said to his dove love Hortensia, "It's a fine Sunday, isn't it, amorcita mia?"

    They were sitting on the balcony ledge.

    The street below was quiet.

    Not even a mouse or a construction crane stirred. Santa Maria del Mar, nearby, rang out the time: one, two, three, four bells. Five, six, seven, eight bells and nine. Ten. Eleven.

    Eleven o'clock.

    Quiet in the upper echelons with the TV antennae, the hanging geraniums, the peeling green paint, the window blinds up. Hortensia was looking at the artist in the window across the way. He had his canvasses laid out, three of them on a table.

    The artist was wearing an undershirt and boxer shorts. Juan didn't like Hortensia cooing at any other guy but him. "You jealous, Juanito?" she cooed.

    "Chances are," he said, and waddled his short dove legs to her and pecked her a beso.

    "Besame poco," Hortensia said. "Are we having a fight?" Juan said. He did that thing with his neck, folding the neck back into folds of skin, doing that neck swivel he did when he was agitated, hungry, or in love.

    Hortensia was watching the artist in the window. He drew an egg, a stick, another egg. He looked up, he looked across at Hortensia, he winked at her dove-grey feathers, he did a couple quick brush strokes, and he held up the result in the window space for her to see.

    The artist had drawn Hortensia! A beautiful quick portrait of his air neighbour.

    "Where am I? I don't see me anywhere," Juan said.

    "This isn't about you," Hortensia said. "It's a matter of no concern to the Juans of the world."

    "Like hell it is. Like hell it isn't."

    "It's between me and the artist...."

    "I'll artist him," Juan said. He flew across the air and into the artist's window. He pecked at the artist's shiny hairless head. The artist laughed. "Una maravilla," the artist said. He waved at Hortensia.

    She was fuming, pacing her little claw feet back and forth across the balcony edge. "That Juan, he's such a jealous dove. He thinks a peace accord is pecking a bald man's head."

    Juan pecked and pecked at the bald head and drew blood on the laughing artist.

    The artist reached up and took some blood on his finger and began a new painting.

    With his finger on a canvas he drew one Juan, one Hortensia. Doves in Blood Red.

    Juan, who was perched on the artist's head, looked down at the painting. Two doves, him and Hortensia....

    "There you go," he said.

    He flew back to the pacing Hortensia.

    "Besame poco?" Juan said.

    "Besame paz," Hortensia said. "Besame mucho."

    And so, it became midday. (Twelve bells rang up to the balcony air.)
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