Owl crashed into their drinking session and probably sent them all screaming and scampering away. Maybe the carwash boys were too drunk to see that this was an animal spirit come to take its share of the gin. Or maybe they weren't drunk enough. Owl just stood there, stunned, one eye shut. They captured Owl and put it in a laundry basket. They thought maybe it was sick. They also thought maybe they could sell it and make a little extra money.
This must have been the Owl we could hear almost every night in our neighbourhood. All my life in my childhood home, I could hear owl calls. I only ever caught a glimpse of an owl once. Now here was an owl in a laundry basket in a carwash down the street.
We bought Owl's freedom from the carwash boys for P500. They let us take the laundry basket. We kept owl for a day and a night, watching for signs of illness, injury or strength. Owl kept one eye shut the first day. Owl blinked at us with one dark eye ringed with brilliant orange. Owl flapped its wings feebly and barely acknowledge the strips of raw meat we offered. The next morning it began to open its other eye. It clawed at the laundry basket and flapped its wings more vigorously.
At dusk we opened the basket and turned it on its side on the driveway. Owl hopped out and stared at us. We tried to keep still and be quiet for this little god that appraised us without emotion, without judgement. Then Owl turned away, took two steps forward, and soundlessly glided away into the darkness.
This precious, close encounter happened December 2013. We can still hear Owl, or other owls, hooting or hissing among the pine trees and from the direction of the bamboo grove, almost every night. How good it is to still have the company of the wild.