Pigeons die in a multitude of ways everyday in the city. They’ve become too comfortable and trusting in a world that sees them as disposable. We put cute little spikes on windowsills and mesh on the undersides of awnings so they don’t perch and shit off of our things onto our surfaces. With no place to sit they wobble around the streets, getting run over by feet, bicycles, cars and eaten by creatures that use the nooks and shadows of the city better than they do. They fly into windows, power lines and the ocean where an octopus tears them into separate but surprisingly equal portions. This is why I didn’t find it surprising when I saw the pigeon wing beside the bike rack, I even gave it a little kick, because why not? The pigeon limb is almost ubiquitous, they’re everywhere, like the birds are just feathered Mr. Magoo’s, absentmindedly forgetting feet on ferris wheels or eyeballs in the alley behind the fish market. Then the wing rolled over from the force of my kick and it wasn’t a wing, it was an ear, the ear of a dog. I was shocked, I was sickened. How could this happen? How could this grotesque artifact of mutilation just be sitting here surrounded by all of this urbanity, feet away from my bike, my foot now an accidental bludgeon to its soft, precious fur.
Take this and run with it, is what he had said to the boy. Well, something like that. He just wanted to get the boy out of the house so he pointed at the thing and said what he said and the boy took it and ran out the door. It wasn’t meant to be a real inspiring address or anything. He didn’t even expect the boy to make it as far as he did, the thing he’d pointed to was pretty damn heavy after all, but the boy plucked it off of the floor without even a grunt. It was like he had actually been inspired by the little speech-thing he’d been given and was imbued with a sort of power, one that he had seen stirring in him briefly a few times before. It would occasionally find its way to the surface to poke its nose out of the water and draw short breaths of confidence, but now it had fully emerged, the water gone, and with the pool drained its flesh dried and grew warm in the sun.
He watched the boy run out of the cul-de-sac, thing held over his head like a totem. A young girl on her stoop, also watching the boy run with the thing, picked up a thing from her yard and started to run after him. Another child with another thing joined. And another, until at least twenty children with twenty different things were running down the street towards an intersection where the traffic stopped on a green to let them pass, a few of their back doors springing open and children with things held over their heads spilled out into the street, running towards the others. At this distance he could no longer make out the boy, but he could still see what he carried, the thing now more silhouette than solid, a memory pushing into the horizon.
“I didn’t do it.”
“I didn’t pull her hair.”
But he had.
“I’m not lying!”
His child’s face red with bluster as he lied.
“Why is she crying then? Why are there long blonde hairs wrapped around your fingers like a gold necklace torn from the chest of a debutante robbed in a poorly lit alley with steam rising menacingly from its manholes.” I said to him, except for the part about the necklace and manholes because he is only nine.
“I already told you. It wasn’t me.”
“Then who was it? Who pulled her hair and made her cry?”
“It was you. You pulled her hair. You made her cry.”
“What? No, it wasn’t me. It was you. I watched you do it!” I said, clumsily, confusingly switching from offence to defence.
“What! No, I watched you do it! Right?” He nudged the young girl with damp eyes. She said nothing, her small face streaked with tears and snot.
“Remember when he did that to you?” He asked again.
“I don’t know. I can’t remember.” She squeaked after receiving another elbow to the ribs.
“Well, it was him. Trust me. Don’t believe anything he says. He just wants to pull your hair again, he wants your long blonde hair wrapped around his fingers like a gold necklace torn from the chest of a debutante robbed in a poorly lit alley with steam rising menacingly from its manholes.”
Perplexed, I said nothing.
“Why?” She asked, voice wavering. “Why did you pull my hair and make me cry?”
“It hurt so much!”
“You’re a monster!”
“Don’t even, pal!”
“Give me my hair back!”
“Give her her hair back!”
“I don’t have it! I don’t have it.”
He takes my hand with his small hand and opens it, unraveling the long blonde hairs from his fingers and winding them around my own.
“Give them back!”
I take the hair from my hand and place it back on her head.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Too little too late, pal.” He says.
“Too little too late, pal.” She says.