Maxine answered the door. She was a short, full-breasted woman in her sixties with wildly cut gray hair. Today she wore a mauve sweat suit and hoop earrings.
"Hi, Jo. You're back early."
"I finished up. Thought I'd come home. Where's the bird? He's awfully quiet. Is he okay?" Groucho, her green Military Macaw had a shriek that could be heard blocks away and he usually made some sort of preparatory shrieks when he saw that Maxine's attention was focused into the hallway, rather than on him where it properly belonged.
I blinked in surprise when a face popped up behind her shoulder. A man squeezed up behind Maxine and wrapped his arm around her substantial middle so that her breasts flowed over his forearm, nearly but not quite covering the crude tattoo that snaked up from his wrist to curl around his elbow. Without meaning to, I took a step backward into the hall.
"I've been threatening to put him on a spit for dinner, but Maxine won't let me. Her daughter took him down to her place, the noise was driving me apeshit," the man said with a gravelly voice. "Don't worry—Bird lives!
"Can you believe I've hooked up with a literate jazz buff?" Maxine said in tones more appropriate for baby talk.
"Hope took in Groucho?" I said in disbelief.
"Oh, she was glad to take him." Maxine's new friend grinned broadly. "She hustled that cage outta here in ten minutes flat, once I told her I liked him a lot and I'd like him even better fried with biscuits and gravy."