The updrafts of warm air were unusual for November, and they allowed for the robin to glide high as it settled onto one of the upper branches of the oak tree. When it arrived, it found a plump ant scurrying along the bark. The robin cocked its head as it watched the ant make a hasty retreat toward the trunk, but it made no attempt to eat it. Instead, it tucked away an errant feather, and waited.
It wasnít long until another flutter of wings approached. The branch beneath the robin shook as a large blue jay took up perch alongside it. The blue jay looked down, saw the ant, and fetched it in a quick peck.
"Hello, Chaos," the robin said.
"Hewwow," the blue jay replied. It swallowed before continuing. "Pardon my mouthful, Order. That ant was a little chewy."
"Then perhaps you should have left him alone."
"Now, that would take the fun out of being a bird, wouldnít it? I like the choice, by the way. Predictable, but good."
"Iím so glad you approve."
Chaos bent forward and sent a long stream of white fecal matter shooting toward the ground. Order moved a step away from him in disgust. He turned his attention to the street below.
"So," Chaos said as he shook his tail feathers, "who are we here to see today?"
"I take it you ignored your dossier again," Order replied. His black eyes carefully studied the neighborhood beneath them. "He should be along any second now. Ah! There he is."
Across the street from their perch, a short, portly little man pushed his way through the front door of his covered porch. He wore a white short-sleeved dress shirt that was two sizes too small for him, and a cloth tie that barely made it halfway past his chest. Beneath his blue pants was a pair of shiny faux leather shoes. When he bent sideways to adjust his belt, a reflection of sunlight glanced off the metal nametag above his shirt pocket.
"Fast food manager?" Chaos asked.
"It would appear so," Order answered.
The man bustled to his car as fast as his considerable frame would allow. He yanked at the front door of his elderly Toyota and planted his right leg beneath the steering wheel. What followed next was something akin to slow-motion limbo, in which the man hopped on one leg outside the car while incrementally lowering himself until his head got below the roof. It was like an angry tango with gravity as his foil.
Order and Chaos watched from above, bobbing their heads with the beat. Chaos was the first to break his stare. He shook his body from head to tail as if to wash the scene from his memory. "Iím exhausted just watching him."
Finally, the man managed to lower himself far enough to drop into the driverís seat. He swung his left leg in before slamming the car door shut. After a few false starts, the engine roared to barely living.
"Well," Order said, visibly flustered but still under control, "I suppose we should get started."
"Letís wait a few minutes," Chaos replied.
"We canít. His Critical Juncture is almost here."
"Letís wait a few minutes."
Order sneered as best he could (which was difficult with a beak) and took off to follow the Toyota as it drove down the street. Chaos followed behind, doing loops in the air around his partner as soon as he caught up. On his final maneuver, he bumped into the tip of Orderís wing.
"Stay at least six inches away from me during flight!" Order yelled.
Chaos responded with a burp.
"We donít have much time," Order said. "The Critical Juncture happens just before he gets to the restaurant."
"So soon? Who buys a house that close to their job when they still get paid by the hour?" Chaos looked thoughtfully into the air after he spoke. "On second thought, I love it."
"Concentrate," Order replied. He looked worriedly at the approaching set of intersections ahead. "If I remember correctly, weíre 50/50 on Junctures so far this year."
"If you say so," Chaos answered.
"I know Iíve had three in a row, but I feel as though I should be given ruling power in this situation. Clearly, the man needs help."
"What he needs is a salad."
"Okay, okay, fine. I acknowledge your offer," Chaos said, annoyed. "But, I rebut: You canít have four in a row and still claim balance. You know I hate the idea of an even split, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. Add in the fact that youíre extremely boring to watch during a Juncture, and I think itís clearly my turn."
"Wonít you reconsider? Iím sure youíd rather wait until next time when youīll have more chance to prepare."
"Request to reconsider is denied."
"What? You didnít give it a secondís thought!"
"Be serious!" Order ordered. "We have no time to waste with your idiocy."
"You know, youíve got a lot to learn about sweet-talking people. And please, spare me the īhe needs helpī routine. You just want to keep things in the status quo. Iīm the good guy here. This guy could use a shake-up."
"Iíve seen your version of a shake-up. I believe the last person you shook up found himself in the hospital with rabies."
Chaos shrugged his wings.
Order watched in horror as the Toyota made the final turn towards the restaurant. "You can have four in a row after me," he said. "Just let me fix this."
"Will you just please think about it?"
"Thank you! I promise to--"
"Why, of all..." Order began, but his anger was interrupted by the sound of squealing tires below them. The birds watched as the Toyota hit the median before skidding into oncoming traffic, where it ran wildly head-on into the grill of a construction truck. The impact brought the carís back wheels off the ground before it finally came to rest. Smoke plumed from both vehicles. Behind them, more cars slammed on brakes to avoid a potential pile-up.
Order was quick to dive down for a closer look. He held his wings rigid to glide in a circle around the scene. It didnít take long to realize that their subject was no more.
Chaos flew down to join him. "You know, if you wouldíve told me that you were planning to do that, I wouldnít have put up a fight."
"That wasnít me," Order replied.
"What do you mean, it wasnít you?" Chaos said. The feathers on his neck stood on end. "Were we too late?"
Order took a final, disgusted look at the windshield of the Toyota. There was a hole in the glass just above the steering wheel and a gaping wound in the manís chest. When he looked closer, Order saw that the edges of the wound were covered in glass.
"Well, that explains it," Order said. He directed his glide away from the scene. "Goodbye, Chaos. Do try to read your dossier before showing up to our next meeting."
"Wait!" Chaos said, flapping behind him to catch up. "Was that who I think it was?"
"Of course," Order replied after a heavy sigh. "It was Fate."