Aphaeresis (aph-aer’-e-sis): The omission of a syllable or letter at the beginning of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

‘Oly moly! That’s a Gray Wrinkle Beak! It is so rare that nobody has ever seen one—except for me. I’m taking pictures with my I-Phone. I will be on the news! Every birdwatcher in the world will envy me. I will be the talk of the town and A-Number One. I want to get a picture of the Wrinkle Beak in flight. I walk toward it. It does not move. I get closer and closer and see why it does not move. It is a meticulously crafted fake. Even up close, it looks real. This has to be the work Captain Tweet, rare bird maker.

He thinks he’s funny. He has been on television a number of times, and explains how his work induces the thrill of discovery’s priceless feeling that, for a short time, puts you in the center of your world, alone with the consequences. Most people opt to take pictures and think about all the money they’ll make selling them, and the TV appearances too, not to mention a few pages in Audubon Magazine. And then, almost as quickly as they come, they are shattered by the ersatz bird revelation.

That’s how I felt: shattered. I have been an avid bird watcher all my life—ever since my parents gave me a cheap pair of plastic binoculars on my 9th birthday. They’re a little nicked up now, but they still work. Captain Tweet had pretty much ruined my life-long hobby. I would show him.

I bought a drone. I disguised as best as I could as a Pterosaur—a prehistoric flying reptile with a 35-wingspan. I put my creation on the roof on my car and headed for Tweet’s. He lived about 400 miles away. I would be there by sunset. I had a sort of hazy plan—I would circle my Pterosaur over his house. I copied my Pterosaur from a dinosaur book that I’d had since I was a kid. I was riding along listening to “Talking Heads” when suddenly my car left the ground! I looked out the driver’s side window and could see flapping wings. I looked down and we were about 50 feet off the ground and following the highway. I was totally flipped out. As we neared Captain Tweet’s residence (shaped like a birdcage), I saw State Troopers surrounding it, with assault weapons aimed at us. One of them had a bullhorn. He said: “Attention, you are harboring a dangerous prehistoric bird. Land without further ado or we will be forced to shoot you down.” At that, we went into a nosedive, straight for Captain Tweet’s house, Tweet came running out of his house shaking his fist. We clipped him and crashed into his house. It started burning and I got out of my car and ran to the curb. As I ran past Captain Tweet, I noticed his head was gone. It must’ve happened when we clipped him. Luckily, I wasn’t driving, so I wasn’t charged with anything.

I will never know how my fake Pterosaur did what it did. But now, birdwatchers are safe from Captain Tweet’s debilitating antics. To be sure, he was an artist, but he used his art for evil ends. May he rot in hell, and be pecked all over his body by an Ivory Bill Woodpecker for all eternity.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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