“I think I killed a seagull today,” says my partner, as he slumps on the couch and stares out the window, forlorn.
“They’re always in the road, swarming around food and so they were there, all over something, but they always fly away when you drive up to them, you know?” His hands gesticulate through the air in imitation of a flock. “They were all huddled around this garbage bag...”
“Rubbish bag,” I correct. His eyes narrow in a way that recognises my attempt at hilarity while simultaneously throwing it away with the proverbial rubbish.
“As I got closer most of them scattered... but there was this one…”
“So he just didn’t fly away?”
“He had his back to me. He was really focussed on the bag. I just thought he knew I was coming...” He swallows.
“Hey, don’t cry,” I say, alarmed. “You didn’t cry when you accidentally killed that pigeon with the bucket.” That pigeon, who is referenced any time either of us encounters a bird, was the main character in a great mystery we now call the Pigeon Bucket Murder. By all accounts, this was a very happy pigeon who spent his or her formative years hanging out on the western corner of our balcony, which adjoined the bedroom. He loved it so much there that he used to bring all his friends and relatives, throwing shindigs which usually culminated in a delightful cacophony of grunting and cooing and sometimes rutting.
Now, actually, it wasn’t that delightful. With each successive feral block party, we were both slowly declining into madness. So we put an old sand bucket, upside down, in the spot where the buddies liked to congregate, in the hope that it would encourage them to find another more hospitable bucket-free balcony. They spent a week or so pushing it around the concrete scrape... scraaaaaape... in a kind of
pigeon conga. But, one day there was... nothing. Silence. Blissful, sweet quietude.
Then, all of a sudden, the screams of a man being held down and de-fingernailed.
“He’s... under... there!”
“What’s under where?” I gasped, bewildered and breathless after sprinting to the rescue. My partner pointed to the bucket, now settled in the once-happening pigeon-rave joint on the corner of Silly People’s Balcony.
Our erstwhile pigeon’s homing device was so accurate that he somehow got beneath the bucket. Because, of course, it was in his spot.
“I still don’t understand how he got under there,” he mutters to himself.
“At least he died in a place he loved, which is an achievement of sorts. And the seagull – he probably expired feeling pretty excited about all those discarded, squashy chips that no one eats because they’ve been saturated in ketchup and didn’t get hit with the salt because they were underneath the pile of good chips and so they always get thrown away.” We look at each other for a moment. At least someone likes those chips.
“All we can hope,” I continue, “is that they both had really wonderful lives before humankind, aka you, came along and blundered into them.”
“I guess so,” he concedes. But we both suspect those talking-bird nightmares will be making a resurgence soon.