The first time I met Mr Richardson and Ms Jordan was because their (inbred) child, Chardonnay, grew wings. Personally, I thought her parents were high. I pulled the A Current Affair car up outside a small house in the housing commission suburb. The grass was brown and crunchy. It was a plain brick house, with an old car sitting in the driveway, the paint peeling. The curtains in the windows were drawn, probably to conceal the derelict horrors inside.
“Let’s go,” Steve, my co-worker, said.
I looked over at him and he raised an eyebrow.
“We don’t have a choice,” I sighed. We opened our doors, letting the stale cigarette air float into the car. I crinkled my nose. “Let’s just get in, see if we have a story, and get out.”
Steve followed me up the drive way and towards the front door. The first time I met most of my “talents” were at their homes. I was used to filth like this, and used to getting scammed with bogan dole-bludgers thinking they could get their five minutes. I hated it, but it was my only choice. I had to start somewhere on television. Sadly, that meant ACA.
“Get the door!” I heard a woman yell from somewhere inside the house.
“I’m feeding Chardonnay!” a man yelled.
I rolled my eyes and sighed.
The door flew open and a thin woman glared at me. Her hair had been dyed blonde, but more than an inch at the top was dark brown. She looked me up and down and I did the same. Her blue shirt was old and stained. She wore grey sweatpants and pink uggs.
“Hello, I’m Brent from A Current Affair. We’re here regarding Chardonnay,” I said, doing my best to not sound as if I was repulsed by her appearance.
She nodded, showing her teeth, yellowed from cigarettes. “Oh, hi! Come in! I’m Shaz, Chardy’s mum.”
She turned around and started to walk away. I walked in and looked around the dirty room. Sheets of newspaper had been placed on the ground. I felt my face scrunch up in disgust. The house smelt like human faeces and I felt as thought the smell would cling to my suit. I looked over at Steve who stared at the room with narrowed eyes and a dropped jaw. Sharon “Shaz” Jordan stood in front of the couch and motioned for us to take a seat. The couch appeared to have been Glad Wrapped.
“Tea?” she asked.
“Ah, no thank you,” I said, forcing a smile.
She looked at me and I felt compelled to sit. Across from me was two fold up chairs, also Glad Wrapped. I looked at the ground, stifling a groan of disgust. The Glad Wrap stuck to my pants, and I didn’t know what was keeping the two together.
Steve sank beside me and I looked at Sharon. “Ms Jordan, I think we might just get started, if that’s alright with you.”
“Yeah, nah, sounds good. D’you want me ta get Chardy and Baz?” she asked, taking half a step back.
I looked at Steve. “Yes, if you’d like.”
She disappeared and I was stuck on the couch. Steve coughed. “I, uh, think I’ve stepped in…”
He trailed off and I looked down at his shoes. A brown muck seeped from underneath.
“That’s not getting in my car,” I said.
“Great.” He frowned at his shoe and looked around the room. “Let’s just look at this kid and go.”
Sharon returned with her daughter in her arms and her defacto trailing behind. I unstuck myself from the chair and reached out to shake Barry’s hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr Richardson.”
“It’s just Barry, or Baz, mate. No need to be formal,” he laughed, taking my hand.
He sat down on one of the fold up chairs and smiled.
I looked at the child in Sharon’s arms. Chardonnay was squirming around and I smiled over at her.
“And this must be Chardonnay,” I said.
Ms Jordan beamed and nodded. “Yeah, this is Charddy.”
The baby looked healthy, her cheeks were fat and rosy. I smiled at her and she cooed back.
“May we see her wings?” I asked.
She spun her daughter around, showing us her back. Two large wings grew out, looking very attached to her. They fluttered a little and my jaw dropped. The feathers were dirty white and still growing in. Some spots, specifically around her back, were exposed, showing patches of skin. “Wow,” I whispered, leaning in to take a look. “How long has it been like this?”
The parents looked at each other and frowned.
“What? Two, three months?” Mr Richardson said.
Ms Jordan nodded. “Yeah, about that.”
“Do you know why it’s happened?” I asked, looking up at them.
They shook their heads.
“I was in the kitchen when Charddy started to cry. I thought, “The fuck does she want now?” and I walked in to see red spots on her back and I was like “Shit”. I was rubbin’ some cream on it, when I felt these bumps? And I’m thinking, “How the fuck did she hurt herself?”. A few hours later, I looked at it again and found wings. They looked like them wings you get at KFC.” Ms Jordan shook her head. “I dunno why it happened to her. But we’ve gotta look after her.”
“I think,” Mr Richardson started, “that it has to do with the Wi-Fi and all that radiation shit. You know? Them scientists reckon it causes cancer. I reckon it could make kids grow wings.”
I nodded along.
Chardonnay cooed in her mothers’ arms and we all looked down at the baby.
“Can she fly?” I asked.
Ms Jordan scoffed. “Can she fly? Why d’ya reckon we’ve put down newspaper? Not just decoration.”
Mr Richardson laughed. “Charddy’s really picked it up. But, I think the worst thing is that she ain’t toilet trained. We want her to grow up natural like, and if she becomes a bird, we want her to feel comfortable. Shit hits the fan, but.”
Steve giggled and I smiled.
“How have you accommodated this?” I asked as Steve calmed down.
Ms Jordan stood up. “Lemme show you her room.”
The couple walked in front of me, making their way down the corridor. Steve and I avoided the excrement on the ground like they were landmines. We entered the room and I frowned.
It was lined in chicken wire. It had been pinned to the walls and windows, creating an aviary appearance. Sticks had been stuck between gaps in the wire, almost like perches. My jaw dropped as I tried to take in the room before me.
“I, uh, got inspired at the zoo a few weeks ago,” Mr Richardson explained.
I looked over at him and frowned. “A… a cage?”
“See, she was rammin’ her head against the windows like them birds in shopping centres, and I thought, ‘We can’t let this happen’. And as I said, if she turns into a bird, we want her to be used to it.”
I nodded and looked around again. There were mirrors dangling from the celling, a birdbath on the ground, water and food containers hanging from the walls, and the bottom had human faeces.
I looked down at the baby who seemed to smile up at me.
“What are your plans in the future?” I asked, looking back at Ms Jordan.
She shrugged. “Do what we can with what we’ve got.” Ms Jordan looked at her partner. “We’ve got a friend who gonna install a sunroof in our car with a chainsaw. If we take trips to the coast, we want Charddy to be able to stretch her wings.”
“We can’t keep her cooped up and we can’t let her fly orf,” Mr Richardson said. “We’re not bad parents.”
Steve looked around. “This can’t be cheap.”
“I’ve written in to Take 5 and That’s Life. They give people money for tellin’ their stories. We haven’t gotten anything, but ya gotta keep tryin’.”
Mr Richardson nodded. “I wrote to Doctor Harry, so he can teach us ta clip her wings and stuff. We wanna look after her the best we can and we reckon he can help. Look, at the end of the day, we want the best for her.”
I nodded. “I can see.” I paused to appreciate how this family functions. “I think we’ll leave this for today. We’ll be back soon to shoot some footage, and whatnot.”
I shook their hands, and Steve and I manoeuvred our way out of the house.
As we climbed into the car, Steve minus one shoe, I sighed and shook my head. “Wi-Fi signals, Steve. Wi-Fi!”
“No scientist will respond with assistance.”
I scoffed. “If one responds with something even remotely sensible about this topic, I will quit my job.”
We laughed as I pulled away from the house and returned back to the studio.
Published on Wattpad.