Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, December 20

The Birds

On Saturday night I ran into someone I had hung out with over the summer.

‘You haven’t called.’

‘My phone’ I said, ‘hasn’t been ringing either. How’ve you been?’

‘Pretty good. I’ve been seeing someone. He’s been talking a lot about commitment,’—commitment was slurred slightly—‘you know, but I don’t feel that strongly about that subject.’ Subject was also slurred. The eyes were a bit unfocused.

‘I’ve never seen you quite like this,’ I said. ‘How much have you had to drink?’

‘Not that much,’ the hand gestured into the air, suggesting my thought was a piffle—admitting a trifle to drink, nothing more.

‘Yeah,’ I said, laughing. ‘Okay.’

‘’See, when he gets talking about commitment,’ there is a slow exhale. ‘I get to thinking about us: you and me.’

‘I haven’t even seen you in two or three months,’ I said. ‘You like this guy? You think there’s potential there?’

‘Yeah, but...’ the voice trails off as the hand slides onto my leg.

Here is a story:

When I was 19, I was walking to the library and I saw a pigeon on the ground. It was walking in loose circles and half dragging one side and twitching. I figured it was rabid (impossible, I now know) so I avoided it. When I walked back to my dad’s restaurant for lunch three hours later, I saw the pigeon again. It was still doing its chorea. Over lunch, my dad told me the city was poisoning the pigeons because they were shitting on people’s cars when they shopped downtown. He said the poison was safe for humans, but the death it caused the pigeons was slow. I cursed the cruelty of capitalism before grabbing a Coke® and heading back to the library.

When I came back to the pigeon, I stopped and watched it for a minute, sipping my Coke®. It flopped one way, then the other. My dad had explained it would be a slow death, but I had hoped it would have been over by now. I set my Coke® down, and picked the pigeon up.

I cupped the bird in my right hand and held it against my body. With my left thumb, I stroked its back, trying to calm it, then I curved my left hand beneath its neck, closing my hand so that its head was held in place as gently as I could. I rotated up with my left hand and down with my right hand, they way you would dry a wet t-shirt.

I opened my eyes. The bird did not react. It did not die, as I hoped. I did not know how slack pigeon’s necks are. I had hoped a quick turn would end the bird’s suffering. I kept its head in position and rearranged my grip so I could give it a second wring. I took a deep breath, winced, and repeated the maneuver.

Still nothing. The bird didn’t even seem dismayed at what was going on. It was not trying to escape. If anything it seemed more comfortable than it had been flopping around on the ground. I repeated the maneuver a third time. My mouth was probably a bit agape by now. I wanted this to be over. If I had it to do over again I’d have been at the library already reading about rattlesnakes or the Supreme Court and the bird would be out here flopping on the ground towards its slow convulsive death.

I wrung its neck six times. The bird now seemed flustered but was still alive. So, with its neck now turned 2100 degrees (360*6), I pulled on the birds head, the way you would open a squeeze top ketchup bottle. I felt the snap and the bird went limp.

I set its body in the bushes, picked up my Coke®, finished my walk to the library and washed my hands.

I take the hand off my leg.

‘When he gets like that though, I just wonder about you and me. I wonder about us.’

‘There is no us,’ I say, getting up. I stop before I walk away, but just long enough to say, ‘as far as I’m concerned, there’s only me.’


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

Somewhere, I hear a Tom Lehrer song playing.


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

I hear Nine Inch Nails...


Blogger Damon writes:

Oh snap! Merry Xmas!


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

Hope you enjoy a very joyous Christmas!


Blogger dan writes:

Bad move, man. Mercy f*cks are the new mercy killings.


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

Same thing happened to me in NYC. Other pigeons were pecking away at a wound on one pigeon's back. It was almost dead so I stomped it. Then, this is bizarre, I went up to Cold Springs, NY on a train. On the gravel by the side of the tracks was a dying beaver with flies all over it in the hot sun. I'm not making this up. It smelled bad and would twitch a little. My girlfriend at the time insisted we keep walking. I swear, chicks are the cruelest human beings when it comes to stuff like this. Anyway we went a couple of blocks away to get cold drinks for a hike but I could not get the poor beaver out of my head. I told her to wait and I went back to the train tracks. I checked to make sure no one was around and I picked up a heavy rock and smashed it on the beaver's head. The gravel it was lying on cushioned the blow and it was merely stunned. I finished it off with another blow. I was accused of being a sick fuck but I was just trying to end the suffering like any compassionate person would.


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