A birdbath sat in the middle of the little park in the center of the upscale housing complex. It was a popular attraction.
Mrs. Williams watched it to see the birds that came to use it.
Mr. Fiore watched it to gauge the amount of extra bird droppings that would fall in the area had it not been there.
Ms. Saito watched as the groundskeeper dumped out the previous day’s water and refilled it. Surely this was a nonessential use of a precious resource.
An ordinary gray tiger cat that answered to several names watched it with the thought of catching a meal.
Mr. Loess watched it to see if Viking — his name for the cat — would catch a bird, as called for by the feline’s place in the food chain.
Mrs. Pantini watched it with a BB rifle at hand to shoot the cat if it killed a bird.
Mr. Pantakis watched it with a hunting rifle at hand; he knew of Mrs. Pantini’s BB gun, and if she shot Cuddles — his name for the cat — it would be the last thing she ever did.
On four weekends during the summer, the homeowners association sponsored a picnic and everyone gathered in the little park and talked and laughed and ate. The cat made the rounds of his friends to pick up some choice treats. The birds went elsewhere because of all the people and their noise.
After the gatherings, the birds returned to the birdbath, the cat to his favorite stalking place nearby, and the humans to their individual stations to keep their vigils: to enjoy, to worry, to watch the hunt, to prepare to attack, and to be ready to retaliate.