© St. Petersburg Times, published May 10, 2002
PITY the Green-winged Macaw named Oscar.
One day he's at Rainforest Pets saying "I love you" to his owner of four years. Then he's birdnapped and held hostage in a seedy den of thieves.
How do we know it's seedy?
Owner Leigh Toborowsky called in the pros.
Oscar, she learned, is holed up in the back room of a blue two-story building with linoleum floors, perhaps an apartment house. It's smoky, and Oscar doesn't like smoke.
His keeper is a Spanish woman with a tongue ring. Oscar misses his roommate from the pet shop, a Mexican Redhead.
"He misses that bird badly," Toborowsky says.
THE PSYCHIC predicted that a reward would bring home Oscar, who vanished Feb. 16, leaving a few stray feathers.
So Toborowsky now offers a reward.
"I believe that bird will come back to me, whether it be from somebody wanting reward money and getting my bird, or somebody snitching on somebody else," she says.
"But I'm going to get my bird. I have to have him. He's like my kid."
Got Oscar? Call her at 871-3223.
(By the way, Green-winged Macaws are mostly crimson, with a band of green on the wing.) CLEARLY, City Times has gone to the dogs this week. Grand Central is for the birds. And there's a pet chameleon in the shopping column.
I have no explanation. We left a window open. They all came in.
Did I mention that City People focuses on an artist who draws, um, animals?
SPEAKING OF ARTISTS, City Times' youngest aspiring cartoonist is a third-grader at Mitchell Elementary.
Announcing the one and only David Patterson.
David's pencil drawings haven't yet made the paper, but give him time.
The first one arrived April 20. It's called The Real Reason Steak 'n Shake Closed. He divided it into two panes, "Before" and "After."
Before: A dad, mom and little boy walk up to Steak 'n Shake. At the door, a man in an apron says, "Hi! Come on in!" The boy thinks, "I love this place."
After: The family marches out. The boy, with a round belly, thinks, "One milkshake too many." Dad groans, "How many burgers did I eat?" And mom, who carries eight takeout containers and a to-go cup, decides, "With all this, I won't have to cook for a week."
TUESDAY'S MAIL brought a new cartoon.
David drew a Goliath bug, three times as tall as the nearby humans, a man and a woman. The man notes that cockroaches seem to get bigger each year.
"Not the garden!" the woman screams, as the big bug crushes her daisies.
DAVID isn't the only artist waiting for his moment.
At least a dozen cartoonists have sent work to City Times since February.
Caesar A. Carbajal drew two Chatterbox regulars beneath a flying wrecking ball. "What ... No last call?" says one.
Bill Pearce drew a scene from Tampa International Airport. A passenger at the security checkpoint says, "Yeah, I felt okay until I remembered Bill Clinton was a federal employee. So was Monica, and Linda Tripp ..."
A toon from Victoria Feuer shows two sets of startled eyes peeking out of bed. Above them is the word "VROOMMM."
"Relax, dear," says one character. "Just a plane from MacDill."
IF I COULD draw, David, I might draw this.
Before: A busy, busy editor looks a little grumpy on her way to the office mailbox.
After: She notices the word "David" on the return address of an envelope. Suddenly, there's a big smile.
-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or email@example.com.