Pork Chop Vultures

California Health Insurance Agent Matt Lockard was a pleasant voice to Mrs. Yakamora, but by the time they spoke, she’d had a close encounter with some undesirable avians.

Mrs. Tumera Yakamora, 87, weighed less than ninety pounds, but her Medigap coverage purchased from that bird-loving Matt Lockard was in effect if she ever needed it. Long-widowed, a single passion remained: Watching the birds that flocked to her Vallecito home.

Her mistake seemed innocent except when considered in retrospect. While stocking certain bird feeders, she began substituting small bits of pork chop instead of the recommended suet. “I think this will be a nice change of pace for my little friends,” Mrs. Yakamora said to no one in particular. She often engaged in lively banter with no one in particular.

Pork chop in any form is not recommended for bird feeding.

She first saw the vultures, an inquisitive pair that she tolerantly chose to name Judy and Punch, on a Tuesday afternoon. But by Wednesday dozens hovered in the increasingly fetid air. Several perched aggressively in her desert willows. “There’s too many,” Mrs. Yakamora said, before making a second mistake of getting a broom and attempting to shoo them.

She became frightened when a cadre of the scavengers, only slightly smaller than condors, began circling very low, hissing, and chasing her about. A particularly vicious one caused her to trip and fall. When she noticed several pieces of decaying pork chop protruding from its beak, she couldn’t suppress a scream. This sound bred of fear must have provoked the creature still further. Only barely did she manage to pick herself up and scurry back into her kitchen. Mrs. Yakamora couldn’t help wondering if she’d been vulture-nipped as she reflectively sipped a cup of her favorite jasmine. She chose that moment to call Matt Lockard at his office far away in Ventura. “Matt,” she managed, “it’s Tumera Yakamora.”

He had no idea what had been happening on the other end of the phone line when he said, “How’s the birding going? See any odd species lately?”

She began sobbing before she mentioned Judy or Punch.

“I saw a blue jay in my yard yesterday,” he said, “first one in a while.”

“Matt stop!” she shrieked, “I got vultures!”

“That’s okay,” he said without missing a beat, “You still have Medigap.”

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