How Birds Party
Lew finds out more about the birds of New York City and gets to meet the owl named Howell who runs the whole thing...
Today’s story is part of the series about a lost pigeon in New York City named Lew.
Here is a link to the previous part:
And here is a link to the first part in the series where it all started:
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I stood nervously by at the counter and looked around at the bustling party going on all around me.
I had never been a particularly bold pigeon. Flying out to that cruise ship had probably been the most outgoing thing I had ever done. And look where that got me…
Still, a part of me was caught up with the vibrant and booming energy of the place. Just action everywhere. I wasn’t used to seeing birds having that much fun, at least not in a very long time.
Beside me, Francois and the red robin were talking.
“I haven’t seen you here in ages, Francois,” the red robin said.
“I’ve been busy,” said Francois.
“You’re not still chasing that mall job, are you?” said the robin.
“So what if I was?” said Francois.
“I would say you’re being a fool,” she said. Her voice was playful but there was sincerity in it too.
“Time will tell,” said Francois.
The red robin then looked to me.
“And who is this?” she said.
“Newcomer to the city,” said Francois.
“What’s your name?” she said.
“Lew,” I told her.
“I’m Ruby,” she said. “You look lost, Lew.”
“I am lost,” I said.
She laughed but I was being very serious.
“Look around,” she said. “Consider yourself found.”
Maybe she was right. Maybe that place was what a bird’s life is meant to be like.
A door in the cardboard wall behind the counter then opened. It wasn’t a small door. It was big enough for a dog.
The intimidating figure of an owl stepped through the door with their chest forward and their beak held high. I knew straight away that this was someone important.
Their feathers were white with sprinkles of grey and brown. Their eyes were giant and golden like two bright human coins.
When he saw Francois he smiled.
“My dear, Francois,” he said. “Long time no see.”
I did not know a bird’s voice could go that deep. I felt something within me become more on edge.
“A lot has been going on,” said Francois.
“I bet,” said Howell.
He then turned to me and looked me up and down with those sharp golden eyes.
“And who is this?” he asked finally — not a question towards me but to Francois.
“Lew,” said Francois. “New in town. I said I would help him out. That’s why I’m here.”
An enormous smile came across Howell’s face.
“Welcome to New York City, Lew,” he said. “My name is Howell. I own this place.”
There was a nervousness in my voice I couldn’t help.
“It’s incredible,” I said.
“If there is one thing I’ve learnt,” said Howell, “it is that when birds work together, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter what type of bird they are. It’s all about all of us helping each other. One big family. This place is just the beginning.”
I felt a swell of inspiration. He was right! The world that he was describing sounded beautiful.
“Why don’t we go out back?” said Howell.
He turned away and disappeared back the way he came. Ruby held up a flap in the counter and I followed Francois through.
“Be careful, Lew,” said Ruby as I walked past.
There was a shift in her voice, a seriousness.
Following Francois, I carried on through the door. The room beyond the bar was jarringly quiet compared to the main party area. It was illuminated by a strange green light. The only birds I could see were three ravens, each enormous. They were in a huddle, talking.
“Please excuse me,” said Howell, looking back at us. “I was just catching up with some old friends.”
He then turned towards the three ravens.
“Would you mind giving us a moment?” he said.
The ravens promptly made their way towards the door to the main area, talking among themselves as they passed us.
We walked further into the room. I could then properly take in the grandiosity of the room. There were stacks of coins as tall as me and loose notes of cash spread casually out like fallen leaves. There was also human jewellery all over the place. Necklaces, rings, earrings, watches. They were all bright and gold and silver and red and green and blue. Something in my bird brain just wanted to gather it all into a pile and protect it forever.
As we walked across the room, I then noticed a green lightbulb on the ground in the middle of everything. There was a little bird that stepped on a big button beside the lightbulb and then the green light started to flash on and off.
“Humans call it electricity,” said Howell. “It’s quite something, isn’t it?”
“But how?” I asked.
“Oscar here set it up,” said Howell. “We’re probably the first birds in the world to have it.”
Oscar was the little bird stepping on the button. He was extremely concentrated and barely even noticed us.
“And it was no easy feat,” said Howell. “That green light right there marks the beginning of a new age for us birds. An age of human technology.”
The green light entranced me. Walking past it, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I was hypnotised.
“Here,” said Howell.
I looked ahead and he was standing next to a glass cup full of seeds.
“Eat,” he said.
I didn’t hesitate for a second. I rushed over and began feasting.
“You smell like sea water,” said Howell. “Long journey?”
“Very,” I said with my mouth full.
“You’re here now,” said Howell. “Safe.”
I kept eating.
“Now, Francois,” said Howell, turning his attention. “The mall project.”
“I’m getting there,” said Francois.
“I’m very happy to hear that,” said Howell.
I was absolutely stuffed and I didn’t want to take too much. I lifted my head from the cup.
“How about you, Francois?” said Howell. “Hungry?”
“No, I’m ok for now,” he said. “I just wanted to get some food in the kid and show him around.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said to Howell.
“No problem at all,” said Howell. “I want you to treat this place like home. Stop by anytime.”
Maybe it was because of the heap of seeds I had just eaten, but I suddenly felt exhausted. A yawn crept up on me.
“I would say you should stick around and dance,” said Howell, “but I imagine you are tired from your voyage.”
“I’ll take him to the cinema,” said Francois.
“A pleasure to meet you, Lew,” said Howell.
“Thank you again,” I said.
“Get some rest now,” he said.
Francois and I made our way back towards the door. Once again, the green light drew me in as I walked by.
We stepped back through to the main area.
“So can I get you guys anything?” asked Ruby.
“We’re just heading off,” said Francois.
“Come back soon, ok?” she said. “Promise?”
“I promise,” said Francois.
We walked through the party and left.
It was a brisk cool night outside.
“It’s not far,” said Francois.
He took off and I followed. We soon arrived at a low building with bright lights out the front of it. We had a similar building back home too. It was a place that smelt of butter. Humans went there to sit in the dark together and look at colours.
We landed on the roof of the building. Tucked away in a corner there were a bunch of newspapers on the ground.
“Goodnight, Lew,” said Francois.
“Thank you for everything,” I said.
He had already turned away to sleep.
That night I had my first true rest in a very long time.
Thank you so much for reading!
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