The Sunshine Jen News Bureau (SJNB) believes strongly in covering every story to its fullest, so when the Dick Cheney shooting story broke on Sunday, we dispatched Michael Walden, our top correspondent, to Armstrong Ranch in Texas.
After four long days of turning over every stone he could find, Michael found the Quail secret bunker. At first the Quail were afraid to go on record out of fear reprisals, but Michael eventually gained their trust and had them eating out his hand. The Quail agreed to go on record on the condition that their identities and locations not be made known.
When asked for their opinion of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Quail answered unilaterally, ‘the fat man, we like the fat man.'
Because Cheney missed them and took out ‘one of his own' (the words of one brown spotted quail), he has gone from being a very loud threat to a sort of savior of the quail. In one section of the bunker, there is even a shrine dedicated to the fat man.
So what were their bird lives like before the Vice President visited?
‘Pretty average' said Dan the quail. Note, Dan is not his real name.
Dan had been on his own since he came out of the egg. He never knew his mother and never knew how many of the fifty chicks he shared a pen with were his brothers or sisters. Like the other quail, he feels a kinship with his fellow birds.
‘One day we got released into this great open space. We can't fly very far or very high, but that's okay. Some of us get vertigo. I remember the first time I saw the orange men. I had only been in the field a few days. I didn't know what they wanted. Then, one of them shot George. George was flying around happy one minute, then the next minute, he was down on the ground not moving. The orange man picked George up and put him in a bag and walked away. From that time on, I have always avoided the orange men although sometimes it's hard. Some of them are really good shots.'
Dan has had a hard life living claw to beak and never knowing if this day would be his last. Then, the fat man came.
‘I thought, this is it. It's my time to go. I hoped it would at least be clean, but something went wrong. A shot went off, and there was a lot of fowl language, but I was safe. It was a miracle. I didn't see anything. I got out of there as quick as I could. Still, I see it as a sign. Maybe I am supposed to do something for the quail community, you know, something to make our lives better.'
Off in the distance the dull crack of a shot gun firing echoes under the hot Texas sun. Once such a sound sent fear into the hearts of quail. Now it brings a profound hope. Perhaps the fat man has returned.