Late one dreary Wednesday morning, Barry the penguin (an erect-crested penguin or Eudyptes sclateri) in Apartment 3N shouldered an empty canvas tote bag and gave his girlfriend Sheila (an Eastern rockhopper penguin or Eudyptes chrysocome filholi) a peck on the cheek.
Cheerio, she said, without looking up from her magazine. Don't forget the krill, eh?
Not to worry, he said, blowing a kiss from the door. Back in a tick.
On his way home the night before he'd noticed a hand-lettered sign at the corner market advertising fresh krill, a rare find in Buffalo any time of year but particularly so in February. He'd been feeling a little blue lately, so he decided to take a "snow day" from work and make a fish pie.
It wasn't that he minded the snow or the cold in upstate New York. He was born and raised, after all, in the sub-Antarctic, off the chilly southern coast of New Zealand. It had more to do with the time of year. Despite all the time that had passed since he and Sheila left Bounty Island, he still spent most of January and February in a funk of longing for the sea-kissed summer days of their youth, something Lake Erie never managed to replace.
Mr. Park greeted him with the usual jokes and gentle ribbing about skipping work. Barry shrugged and smiled. Mrs. Park asked about Sheila as she wrapped the krill in butcher paper. Barry bought cod fillets, a bag of frozen peas and carrots, four Yukon Gold potatoes, an onion and a small jar of dried oregano. He thought a little oregano would compliment the krill.
Mr. Park called to him as he reached the door. Don't worry, Mr. Barry, spring coming soon!
A Hummer H4 clipped Barry moments later, as he was crossing Elmwood Avenue. The polar bear at the wheel, a juvenile Ursus maritimus, told police he hadn't see the two-foot-tall flightless bird until it was too late.