Whether the little bird had a heart attack or not, was a moot point. It was dead. I had to remove it from our patio.
The atmosphere on our patio had completely changed. Just a few moments ago, the flowers were a sign of beauty and life. Now the patio made me think of a cemetery with wreaths. I got the shoe box ready and reached for the dead pigeon. This would be his final trip. The poor creature was gone before he even had a chance to fly. If only he once had the joy of flying with the wind, looking down at the world where the humans would appear small to him. Small, but close enough to crap on their heads.
I want to fly like a pigeon
To the sea
Fly like an pigeon
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like a pigeon
Till I’m free
Time seemed to stop as I gently grasped the pigeon with my left hand, when suddenly, there was a crazy movement, prying my hands open. The dead pigeon screamed, chirping louder than ever.
He wasn’t dead, only faking it! What a clever sun-of-a-pigeon!
“He’s alive. The mother****er is alive!” I yelled to Sophia, as if I had just seen a miracle akin to Jesus being resurrected.
I tried to grab it again, shaking like a leaf (me, not the pigeon). I totally missed the bird, because this time the pigeon didn’t just retreat. He careened right past me and across the patio, weaving his way in and out through the obstacle course of pots and patio chairs. It was if the bird had never walked before, but nature or God and adrenaline had finally given him this amazing ability to be the fastest pigeon that ever existed.
“Get him” yelled Sophia. “Get him!”
I ran after the bird, but he kept on zigging and zagging out of the way, like LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers.
“He’s under the patio table,” said Sophia.
I took the shoebox and tried to block his way, and then I went to scoop him up, like a ball in a glove. The little pigeon ran away again, but this time — horror of horrors — he ran straight INTO OUR LIVING ROOM!
“You forgot to close the patio door, you idiot!” screamed Sophia. “We now have a f***ing pigeon inside our house!”
Now, in the past, I’ve heard Sophia use some “salty” language, but nothing compares to what she said to me when she saw this dirty pigeon running under our couch. Even Samuel L. Jackson would blush.
“Neil, get that ******** pigeon the **** out of the ******** living room***** right the **** now! I don’t care what the **** you need to do! Do it!”
And then she added some long-winded curses in Russian, Hebrew, and Arabic that I couldn’t understand, which was probably for the best.
I chased the pigeon under the coffee table and finally trapped it behind the entertainment center. He had nowhere to turn. I was on one side, the cabinet on the other, an extension cord blocking him from a quick getaway. I was shaking so much that I leaned against the entertainment center for support, perhaps too strongly, until Sophia screamed out, “Be careful! The big screen TV is going to topple over and kill both of you!”
The pigeon and I were both crazed by this point — man vs. beast, both breathing as heavily as we could. But as it says in Genesis, man shall be ruler over beast. I also knew that Sophia would kill me if I left a pigeon walking around the living room. I finally grabbed the sucker and placed him in the shoebox, quickly covering the box. I could feel the pigeon bouncing up and down, but I held it down with all my might.
“Open up the ****** front door!” I screamed to Sophia. “Open it NOW!”
Sophia threw open the front door and I ran outside without my shoes, carrying the shoebox, protecting the pigeon like it was the most precious cargo, bringing it across the street and out of any danger.
Across the street from our house is a tree-lined area which is shady and inaccessible from the main street. I propped the shoe box near a branch that was both low enough to prevent the bird from falling and hurting himself, but high enough to keep him out of reach of the cat. The pigeon jumped out of the box, onto the branch, and scrambled away until I couldn’t see him anymore. He was on his own now. I had the proud but sad feeling that a father must have when he sends his son away to college.
I returned home, my heart still racing. Sophia was glad that the whole experience was over. She was ready to return to the patio to work on the flowers. But I WASN’T ready yet.
“That’s it. I’m done for the day.” I said, without hesitation. “I’m sitting outside in the front and having a beer.”
“Did you just say you are having a beer?”
I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Stella Artois. It had been sitting there for months because Sophia couldn’t drink during her surgeries, and I never drink beer. I don’t even like beer.
Today, I felt like having a beer. Beer feels manly. I felt manly.
I sat outside on this white plastic chair that we keep near the front door and enjoyed my manly beer.
Will the bird survive? Who knows. I can’t run his life, anymore than my father could run mine. Later that night, I would finally receive a call back from some woman at the Los Angeles Animal Control. She told me that the bird probably fell out of the nest and if so, he was in danger of being eaten by a cat. She also said that the mother pigeon must have put him in that bushy corner for protection until he can fly, and was feeding him there.
“My god! I separated a child from his mother? I broke the sacred bond! How will she ever find him?”
“The mother will always find him,” she said. “She will recognize the chirping. You did good.”
I did good. I felt heroic. Most importantly, I knew my father was impressed. I could hear him say, “This is the best Father’s Day gift I ever received.”
The next day, the pigeons thanked me by taking a crap on my car. I think my father would find that funny.
Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday, Dad. Be of good cheer.