Karen Fitton of Occoquan had just finished her Friday night shift as a waitress at the Black Rooster, a downtown restaurant. The car was loaded and ready to carry Karen and her boyfriend away for the weekend. Karen was all set to climb in when . . . .

Bordeaux decided to fly away.

If you've never owned a parrot, you won't understand Karen's attachment to her airborne friend. Nor will you understand why Karen trusted Bordeaux enough not to have him locked in a cage. But something spooked the bird so badly that he decided to disappear down L Street like a speeding bullet.

Karen says she loves Bordeaux "a whole bunch" -- so much so that she spent all of Friday night and all of Saturday combing the area around 20th and L Streets NW in a vain search for her beloved bird.

The Friday we're talking about was June 10, which means Bordeaux is almost certainly not coming home. After all, he can't afford Mel Krupin's, and Karen says he's so used to civilized, homebody food that he wouldn't scavenge in a garbage can. She is resigned to the probability that he has starved to death, or flown far away, or been fatally attacked by other animals, human or otherwise.

But just in case he's still alive, and you run into him, Bordeaux is silver (the color of a nickel, Karen says), with scarlet tailfeathers. Karen says he might climb onto your shoulder and stay if you offer him peanuts in the shell, his favorite meal. And yes, he talks. Favorite words: Sasha (the name of Karen's cat) and Bobby (the name of Karen's son).

Karen will pay $200 for his safe return. Her phone number is 659-4431. You can also leave the good word (if any) at the National Zoo's bird section. Their phone is 673-4740.