Sunday, August 3, 2014

He would want me to do the same, and I understood that

If I thought about it long and hard enough, I could probably get emotional; but I swore that if I ever told his story, I wouldn't make it metaphorical.

Six days ago, a bird, most resemblant to the look and size of an oriole, flew into the sliding glass door of our house at full speed. I was working at the kitchen table, and sincerely thought one of the neighbors had thrown something, I mean, the guy hit with the velocity of a little league baseball. I turned quickly to see a mess of feathers flipping backwards through the air, landing right side up in the seat of our wooden rocking chair.

I walked over to see if it was alright, to find it stunned senseless, and visibly in a state of shock. It did not move, not even a twitch. Its right wing was slightly crooked, beak pinned open, and his left foot crumpled up like a balled up piece of paper. Homeboy was in rough shape.

I named him Tony; and assumed that he probably wanted some time and space to nurse his pride back to sensible form, before we assessed his physical injuries. I tiptoed closer, both hands in the air, promising no harm, and used a small stick to free the corner of his wing, which was stuck within one of the cracks of the rocking chair. Still, no movement.

There was music playing, so I cracked one of the windows and turned the volume up, hoping to at least make the environment as comfortable as possible for my unfortunate friend. I went back to work, and proceeded to check on Tony every fifteen minutes or so. Two hours passed, and he still had not moved an inch.

Then, I heard the sound of other, larger birds, chirping from the patio, directly above where Tony sat. I worried he might be a sitting duck and actually thought about moving my computer outside, in case these crackpots attempted to pick a fight. To be fair, I never underestimated Tony. I imagined he could defend himself just fine, but then again, he wasn't exactly in ship shape. Kid had just taken a direct blow to the face from a quarter inch thick piece of glass, at full speed mind you. I would want him to do the same, and he understood that. We were buddies.

So, I walked back outside, to the surprise of movement from Tony. He had crept to the edge of the rocking chair and, eyeing the intruding birds on the balcony, made a short leap into the grass. I thought to get a towel, and try and scoop him up or something, but he wasted no time, bird hopping into the bushes; where he camouflaged well into the dirt and branches.

By now it was early evening, and I was heading out for a run. It felt like abandonment to leave the house, not knowing where Tony was hiding, or if he'd be safe from predators; but I assumed this kind of thing happens all the time in the wild, and life goes on. I finished my evening, still with no sign from Tony.

I slept and went to work the next day, still not knowing if Tony had survived his first night in our garden. It wasn't until late Wednesday night that, while sitting on the rocking chairs outside with my buddy Mack, catching up on each other's lives, that we heard a rustle from the corner of the garden.

We crept into the place where the sound had come from, asking Tony if it was in fact him.

He soon replied, "chirp, chirp, chirp-chirp-chirp," upon which Mack and I pulled some branches back to the flailing of wings, and a wild Tony, running along the garden wall.

We were ecstatic and high-fived multiple times, running to the kitchen to get the box of corn flakes. We assumed he must be starving by now, and left multiple piles of flakes for him to snack on for the next few days. I will say, that four days later, the piles of corn flakes are still in the garden. 

But we tried our best, and I have to imagine that Tony appreciated the effort, and even warmed up to the idea of us approaching his new quarters. That, or he was secretly wishing we would eventually bring him frosted flakes, since Mack proceeded to spread corn flakes for an additional two nights.

Thursday and Friday proceeded in similar fashion; with Tony slowly growing more accustomed to the garden, inching further and further into the lawn with each new day. His routine was running back and forth along the garden wall from one side to the other, calling out help-me signals, or commands, but to any and everyone. Then he would inch up the smaller sloped branches of the low shrubs, and perch, as if perching was the new cool and he was the King at it. 

On Saturday morning, I left my bedroom, which has a slider facing the garden. I saw another bird, identical in size and color as Tony, perched on the wall of the garden. Tony, low and behold, was pacing in the smack middle of the yard, as if he was the new head of air traffic control. The new, nameless bird swooped in, with a piece of something in its mouth, and fed it directly into Tony's gaping jaws. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I called my roommates out to watch, and together we concluded that it must be his sugar mama.

(A sugar mama is "a woman or bird (often an older woman or bird) who holds her partner or bird friend in nice standing with money, food, an apartment, wormsetc. -- not always used in a derogatory fashion, or merely in exchange for sex or bird love, but because she can." - urban dictionary, **bold and italics were added.)

For the record, we have no idea about the gender of either of the birds, but Tony, spelled with a 'y' was just the name that came to mind, and the friend/rescuer was assumed to be female, although we never named her. Perhaps an insight into our perceptions of relationships: 1. It flies into a glass door, - wounding itself into a state of no escape, - and resorts to running back and forth along the garden wall, calling out repeatedly, despite multiple different fruits and corn flakes lying all over the ground: must be Male;  2. It shows up eventually and saves the day with worms and other delicious eats, - and proceeds to hunt for more worms, while Tony continues to run aimlessly along the garden wall: must be Female.

Tony was befriended, and the two played in the yard all morning. By afternoon, she was gone, but Tony was a new man. I told Alysse that the scene reminded me of the most recent Batman movie, when Bruce Wayne is in that dungeon, having to do a lot of push-ups and pull-ups before he can recover, and then jumps from ledge to ledge up the wall, in order to escape and fight the guy with the mask. 

Tony was determined, and he practiced all afternoon, running back and forth, and flailing from branch to branch. I don't know what bird push-ups and pull-ups look like, but Tony was doing them. He was a madman, and whatever Gotham city was under attack in his mind, he had resolved to recover and free himself in order to save it, and all the people inside.

Sunday, I came home from church just after noon. I said a quick hello to Tony, who was running in his usual spot, along the edge of the grass. I threw some clothes in the washing machine, turned on some music, and made two sandwiches for lunch. I opened the sliders, and sat on the living room sofa, facing the garden. I finished my sandwiches, as one of my roommates walked in the door, finding a seat at the kitchen table, and began to work on his assignments for one his online grad school classes. We made back and forth about the morning, church and lunch; and as he turned back to his computer, I picked up my phone to send a message to Alysse.

By that moment, Tony was in full - flood - Bruce Wayne mode again. He was buzzing all over the yard, in his wildest state yet. I was just starting to tell Alysse about it, when it dawned on me that the branch Tony had just flailed onto was half the height of the garden wall. I had noticed his excitement, but hadn't conceptualized his literal escape. This was it, the climax; as if I'd been watching a film for the passed six days, and this was what everything had been leading up to. I got Jordan's attention, and quickly told Alysse that Tony was on his escape route.

The garden wall is about seven feet tall, and the branch he jumped to first, was roughly waist height. Once there, it seemed as if he paused, long enough to get our attention, long enough to let out a "chirp, chirp, chirp-chirp-chirp," as if to say, "this is what they don't show you in the trailers," like, "enjoy this," and, "remember it forever."

The gap he cleared on his second leap, was about two feet higher and six feet away. He made it in slow motion, likely flashing back to moments of his childhood, then reality, then moments of his crash, then reality; all mid-flight. When he landed, I stood up. I yelled to Jordan that this was really happening, and we watched Tony make the few small leaps up the next several branches, to the top of the garden wall. I texted Alysse, "Tony is on the wall," with probably seven exclamation points.

Tony only looked forward, and with a few chirps, leapt into the branches of the tree inside the neighbors yard and disappeared behind the wall. He would want me to do the same, and I understood that. We were buddies.

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