The man and the pigeon

* this short story needs an editor and to be developed a bit more. And as you'll see I am generally allergic to punctuation, but it's in pretty good shape, so I thought I'd post.

The pigeon was just chilling in front of a house on Washington Street with a purple fence

or that’s what he told himself

as he continued on the sidewalk.

he knew something was up

but sometimes you just don’t wanna be bothered with inconvenient shit like a dumb ass palota that forgot how to walk

especially today when he was trying to lay game on a lady

and a beautiful one at that

long brown hair, big brown eyes

his type for sure

he’d met her three nights ago at the spot

which was really called La Hacienda

the joint where he often met his dudes after finishing up his cashier shift at Walgreens during the week

he was taking his scrawny ass to Union Square from his crib in Somerville to surprise her

at her job at Union Square Vet Hospital.

five blocks away, on Washington Street

he began hearing a chirping sound

and looked down to find the sick palota

lying stomach down

occasionally trying to lift its fucked up leg

When he was younger

he’d sneak up to the roof of his apartment complex with his buddy Julio

whenever his dad would show up to ask his mom for agua

A lot of times there’d be pigeons up there

and he and Julio occasionally fucked with them

but most of the time just let them be

even gave them some stale bread they kept up there
after they started smoking weed and keeping snacks up there in case.

they did shit everywhere, which was annoying, but the way he saw it, they weren’t leaving, so they might as well be cool with each other

He kept thinking about those pigeons as he stood over the bird

and wondering why he didn’t just keep walking

everybody else was, so why shouldn’t he?

Shit died every day

It was natural selection

survival of the fittest

he tried to tell himself

and anyway what could a dumbass like he do?

he couldn’t pick up a random pigeon

what if he got a disease?

Bird flu

the plague

who knows what else?

well he didn’t want to get bird flu

so after standing there for a few minutes

he finally took off down the road to the vet clinic

 

when he got to the clinic, he hugged his girl at the counter

the day was wrapping up

she and her coworker were closing up shop

sweeping the floor

drawing the shades

the coworker peaced

and right after, thats when he mentioned his coming across the pigeon on Washington St

how he knew he was being stupid

by thinking about it so much

“Dude it’s a pigeon,” the woman said eventually.

“I know. I know. But I can’t stop thinking about it. Can we just get like a cage or box or something? and go look at it?”

“you serious?”

“yeah. I’m sorry”

“no it’s cool. I’m not touching it though,” she said.

“But you’re a vet tech!”

“For dogs and cats,” she replied.

“Right. okay lets just go see it.”

 

So they left in the woman’s tan jeep, with an orange towel and a small box the woman had grabbed out of the closet

when they got to the house with the purple fence

the woman parked the car alongside it

the two got out

he pointed a finger in the direction of the pigeon

the woman looked at the bird

which now had it’s eyes mostly closed

its belly rising and falling

“I’ll call the South Shore Animal League,” she offered.

“Cool,” he said.

She pulled out her iPhone and looked up the number.

“Hi, there, there’s an injured pigeon on the side of the road here in Union Square.”

“Yup, a pigeon.”

“Oh. really? Okay.”

“What’s the deal?” he asked, after she’d hung up.

“They don’t take pigeons. Let me try one other place.”

So she did. She called the local university’s animal hospital.

“Hi we found this injured pigeon…hang on? oh okay sure.”

“See you have to tell them it’s injured not sick or else they’ll think he’s got bird flu or something,” she told the man now, on hold with the hospital.

“You think he got the bird flu?” asked the man.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if pigeons even carry it.”

And then the veternarian or whoever the fuck on the other end started talking, and she listened and then spoke into her phone.

“Oh really? Well I don’t know if it’ll still be alive in the morning.”

Then she listened for another minute.

“Oh okay. Thanks anyway.”

Talking to the young man again: “First they told me they didn’t have anyone there to see him that knew about birds and then they were like no altogether.”

“Don’t these places see birds?” the man said more loudly than he’d been expecting to.

“Probably, but this isn’t someone’s bird, comprende?”

“Okay so what now?” the man said.

“I don’t know. We could give it some water.

“Okay.”

“Let me run back to get some. Wait here,” she told him.

“Where am I gonna go, morena?”

She rolled her eyes and hustled down the road back to her office.
 

He waited a few minutes, sitting a few feet from the bird

hands and back on the fence.

The pigeon opened its eyes to see this guy

was who was sitting near to him

Not knowing what else to do, the man took a stick and gently poked the bird’s foot.

The bird started making like it was gonna get up and go

like he really was just sitting there gettin a tan

the man watched it struggle to lift its feet, getting one up before for falling back down awkwardly when its injured foot wouldn’t cooperate

The young woman showed up a few minutes later and set a bowl of water 2 feet from the bird

When the bird didn’t move she put the bowl of water a little closer

so that all the bird had to do was lean its head over into the bowl

which it did

“This is fucked up. Can’t someone take this palota estupida?” the man shouted. “Can’t someone who knows what they’re doing come out here and do something.”

The woman shrugged.

And then the man did something he didn’t expect to do

He opened the box up and grabbed the towel

“Are you serious right now?” said the lady.

“Just close down the flaps when I get him in.”

“No.”

“Please.”

And he smiled at her.

Not the smile he reserved for morenas at the spot

but the one he used with his sisters and mother

“Fine. But if I get avian flu, you’re taking care of me and looking after my daughter for the rest of her life.”

“Fine girl.”

So the man took a breath and reached down

his hands wrapped in towel

and scooped up the bird

which shook

in his grip, though

he held on tight

never panicked

he’d always been cool with handling the mice he found in traps

around his mother’s house after she got old and couldn’t keep up with the weekly cleaning chores she once forced herself to do

so when it was time to drop the bird in the box

he did so gently

without freaking out

After the bird was in

he took the box from her and climbed into her jeep.

the bird in his lap on the drivers side

“Oh so it’s gonna be like that,” she said. “Okay what next crazy dude?”

“We’re going to the animal hospital.”

 

They drove the 20 minutes to the outskirts of the city, where the animal hospital

sat on a flat piece of land in the middle of a university campus.

He looked for the emergency parking and pulled into a spot.

Once parked, he opened the door and carried the bird inside the box up the many steps which led into the lobby of the hospital

The lady sat in the passenger side waiting for him to return

When she finally saw him coming down the steps and toward the car, she noticed he still had the box in his hands.

She got out of the car and shrugged

as if to say “well we did all we could.”

He was drooping down like a boxer who’d just got his ass whooped as he walked toward the car. He thought for sure once they’d seen the bird they’d keep him or at least put him out of his misery.

But the lady at the counter looked at him as if he was una persona loca

for bringing in a pigeon in a box.

He kept thinking about this as he got closer to the jeep.

Thinking he probably would have acted the same way if he was in her position

and she had brought in a pigeon in a box to his hospital

Hell he might have joked about the whole experience over beers with Julio and the rest of his crew later on at the spot.

As he thought this, he could feel the bird’s warmth coming through the box and into his hands. It reminded him of the old feeling he’d get when his mother would take him in for big ass bear hugs when he was a kid, and how one time he’d asked her why she gave him such crazy hugs when the other kids got normal sized hugs. She’d told him that when she hugged him, she’d been doing it for two people. His mama and his papa.

“So you see, I have to hug you from both of us, hijo? Comprende?” she’d said.

The man was thinking this and still looking down at the box.

When he got to the car, he spoke. “Hey lady I’ll be back in a hot minute.”

“Dude you aint giving up on this bird are you?”

And with that, he turned around and speed walked back up the steps and through the lobby doors

As he approached the desk, bird still in his arms,

the lady at the counter got to her feet and made as if to speak

Before she could, the young man

raised his voice:

“I’m sorry lady, but you’re taking this fucking pigeon!”

before setting it on the counter in front of her and

running out of the lobby back to the jeep

and his girl.

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