|"A Beak for Trends"|
|First Appearance||Alien Pregnant by Elvis|
|Editor||Esther Friesner and Martin H. Greenberg|
"A Beak for Trends" is a satirical story by Laura Frankos. It was published in Alien Pregnant by Elvis, edited by Esther Friesner and Martin H. Greenberg, DAW 1994. It has not been reprinted.
The story centers on a scarlet macaw named Ptolemy III, beloved pet of the late Gladys Hatcher. When the story opens, Gladys has died, but she has arranged for Ptolemy in her will. She informs her heirs that she had trained Ptolemy to read using flash cards. Moreover, Ptolemy reads the newspaper lining his cage, and has become adept at picking stocks. However, he has no real understanding of the news sections.
While Ptolemy is initially happy in the care of Benjamin Hatcher, things end badly there, and he winds up with Gladys' granddaughter Cindy Ledbetter, who isn't as conscientious about caring for Ptolemy as Gladys or Benjamin were. Soon, Ptolemy is reading the tabloids at the bottom of his catch, and growing increasingly unclear about what is real and what is fantasy with tragic results.