The Birds Will Gorge on Their Flesh
I went outside for a smoke. I sat on our back deck and lit up a Camel Turkish Gold. The Indian-summer air was heavy but my coffee and cigarette brought me the closest to the state of Zen that my uneducated limited scope could imagine. The sun was beginning to rise above the pines just past our tall wooden fence. That fence needed a paint job. My father-in-law put it up for us three years earlier, but I had never gotten to painting it. The wood was beginning to fade from exposure to the sun, and the bottom of the fence was starting to show green mold from the wet grass that stood next to it. I mowed when I had to, but I never weed whacked so the grass along the fence was a bit long and unruly. I needed to get to that sometime soon, but not now. Now I would enjoy the smoke of Turkish tobacco filling my lungs, and the nutty taste of my coffee with hazelnut creamer gracing my pallet.
The moment was so perfect I decided to close my eyes. As soon as I closed them I heard something smack the fence hard. Give me a break! My special Zen experience was over; I stubbed out the rest of my cigarette, dumped my coffee over the porch railing and went back inside. I shut the sliding glass door behind me and got back to writing.
As soon as I had sat back down I heard another loud bang. This time something had hit the door I had just walked through. Probably the neighbors kids being little shits again. (I picked up the phrase “little shits” from my dad and absolutely love using it!) I was big on writing on my blog about community and reaching out, but, in reality, I hated my neighbors and tried to avoid all interaction with them. I saw no value in turning around to see some annoying kid’s ball lying on my back porch.
To help overcome writers block I tried to do some stream of conscience writing, writing my thoughts as they occurred to me:
This is stupid
Poetry is stupid
My neighbors are stupid
My readers are stupid
Those damn kids!
That last line was in response to yet another bang on the back door. Seriously, this was getting ridiculous! I didn’t want to have to be the asshole but enough was enough. I turned around to see what those kids were throwing at my window. I was a little taken back by what I saw; no balls or rocks on my porch, but birds, dead birds, or at least I guessed as much. I wasn’t about to go get bird flu trying to find out for sure.
I knew at least two birds were dumb enough to fly full-tilt (hard enough to kill them) into my sliding glass door, and I had a suspicion the bang on the fence had been of a similar nature. Normally one would assume that it made sense for birds to fly into a glass door, but ours were covered in kid’s fingerprints. It would take a seriously blind bird to think that this was open air space, and that still wouldn’t explain the one that I figured had kamikazied into my faded and rotting fence.
It all seemed a bit odd and very unlikely to be of mere coincidence that all these birds were crashing out of the sky. I had to find out if that bang on the fence was actually a bird. If so, I had a really interesting story on my hands. If nothing else my kids would enjoy the anecdote from my otherwise dull day-to-day. I could have another smoke too. I slid on my shoes, grabbed my pack of smokes, and headed outside to do a little investigation.
I stepped onto the deck and pulled a cigarette from the pack. I put it to my mouth and lit it as I nudged the birds on the deck with my foot. They were pretty dead in my opinion. Blood was pooling around one of them and when I kicked it over on its side his feathers stayed behind. I never realized how easily feathers came off. I guessed that plucking chickens probably wasn’t that hard after all.
I crossed the backyard toward the fence. The grass was still wet from the morning dew and I had to watch my footing to avoid tripping on discarded toys or beer cans in the grass that was a little overdue for a mowing. With my full attention on my feet I was startled when I heard another bang. This one was tinny and resulted from some projectile striking our little metal yard shed. I had a pretty strong guess as to what that projectile had been.
I took a drag and diverted my course to the shed. Yep, another one of those damn birds. I looked up and actually saw one plummet into the ground like some lawn dart thrown at a cookout with a bunch of drunken hicks. I was getting uncomfortable out in the open. I thought there weren’t many targets left to hit and I was just as likely a candidate as anything else out there. The idea of getting covered in bird guts and feathers wasn’t super appealing to me.
I ran over to the fence, looked over and saw a bird lying there. That was enough intel gathering for one morning, and all this excitement had been an inspiration to my creative juices. They seemed to be back on the flow. Dead birds falling out of the sky would make the perfect metaphor for some dead religious tradition of the modern church; I didn’t know which one yet but I knew I could figure that out easily enough. So I started jogging back across the lawn, but suddenly found myself lying flat on my face. Those damn toys, nope, this time it was my own fault. A 16oz PBR can. Dammit, no one to blame but myself. Then a bird landed beside me. Ok, ready to go inside now. I stopped at the door, took one last drag off my cigarette, lamented having to waste the rest (at least half!), stomped it out and retreated to the safety of my four walls.
I shut the door behind me. My heart was still racing a little and it was getting O2 to my brain at a pretty elevated rate. I needed to take this opportunity to start writing. I sat down and got to my comparison between church folks and dead birds falling from the sky. I was in the zone. I was so “in the zone” that I was tuned out to everything around me. As I tried to decide whether my readers would find humor in the cliché phrase “this shit’s for the birds,” my surroundings began to wash back into my senses. I could hear the ticking of the clock getting louder and clearer.
All of a sudden I snapped out of “the zone” altogether and realized the irregularity of the clocks normally monotonous “tick … tock …” Damn, I would probably have to go steal a battery from one of the kids’ toys. No, this wasn’t the clock ticking away. The sound was coming from behind me, from the glass door. I turned around and saw two birds, naked of feathers, eyes blood red, with black fluid dripping from their beaks, violently pecking at the bottom of the door.
I needed to contact my wife and the kids.
Something was very wrong.