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How to be a New Yorker (as a Pigeon)
Francois shows Lew the ropes on life as a pigeon in New York City...
In today’s story we meet up again with Lew as Francois teaches him more about life in New York City.
This is the story of a lost pigeon named Lew. You can catch part one here:
And here is a link to the most recent part:
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After the indoor flight training, we decided to get some food.
Francois had a place in mind and led the way.
We flew a few blocks and then we landed on a window sill just above street level. I didn’t immediately know what Francois had planned.
“See that food truck across the street?” he said. “That’s going to be our lunch.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said.
There was a line of people in front of the food truck. It looked like the main item for sale was hotdogs.
“That’s our spot,” said Francois, nodding towards a bin ten or so feet away from the food truck.
“Alright, let’s do this,” I said, and I was just about to take off.
“Wait!” said Francois.
I stepped back.
“Have you ever hunted for food on your own or in a tiny group?” he asked.
“Not often,” I said.
“Let me teach you something then,” he said. “You need two spots: the spot where you’re grabbing the food and a spot to eat it. If you’re on your own eating at the source of the food then bigger pigeons can easily just come along and barge you away. That’s why you need to grab the food and take it with you to eat it somewhere else where they won’t think to find you. Make sense?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Makes sense.”
We flew down to the bin near the food truck and, sure enough, found plenty of abandoned clumps of hotdog bread. We took little bits and flew back to the sill to eat them and then we went back in for more.
We kept going back and forth until we were both full as can be. And then we allowed our pigeon greed one last trip and called it quits.
After the food truck, Francois led the way to a small park with a fountain.
We hopped straight into the water for a bath. I splashed around in the cool water, having a great time. I splashed water at Francois and he was very stern at first, but, eventually, he buckled and the game was on.
The city had made me feel so dirty and slimy. Being in that fountain was cleansing. The fun of the fountain reminded me of playing with my friends back home.
As I then drank up, Francois told me about what to drink in the city and what not to drink.
“Watch out for street puddles. They’re full of bad stuff from the cars and they can get you sick. Parks like this are a good place to find water. Dog bowls are good too. Just make sure there aren’t any dogs around.”
There was a restaurant with outdoor seating which Francois caught me eyeing off.
“It’s not worth it,” he said. “The servers pounce on any bird that comes close.”
After the fountain, Francois wanted to show me his favourite spot to view New York City.
As we flew across town, he continued to teach me about life in the city.
At one point we stopped on top of a street light at the end of an alleyway.
“Don’t land in alleyways,” said Francois. “Not on street level. Cats own the alleyways here. You may not see them at first, but they’re there, waiting just for you.”
On we went, flying along.
“Also,” he said. “If you’re on the street and a human kicks at you or something, fly directly upwards. Not sideways. A lot of birds panic and fly sideways onto the road. Those cars are the most dangerous thing there is for us. So fly upwards!”
I was repeating what he said to myself in my head, trying to ingrain the information.
“Speaking of cars,” said Francois, “never go onto the roads. Seriously. No matter what. It doesn’t matter how good the scrap of food is. It’s not worth it. It’s never worth it.”
Right. No roads, I told myself. No roads, no matter what.
We started flying steeply upwards into the air, above a lot of the buildings.
“There it is,” said Francois. “The Empire State Building.”
It was a humongous tower way taller than anything else around it and it had a spike sticking out of the top of it.
I followed Francois and we landed on one of the corners of the building way up high just before the spike.
We sat in silence for a while and enjoyed the view.
“What do you think?” asked Francois.
“Quite a view,” I said.
“Whenever you need to get back to the cinema,” said Francois, “you can fly up here and then just look down over there in the direction of where the sun sets.”
I looked where he was gesturing and saw the roof of the cinema.
“You know,” said Francois, “I once snuck into the cinema to see what it was like. I went into one of the dark rooms where there were humans watching one of their moving picture stories. The story had this exact building in it. I recognised it straight away. But guess what? There was an animal climbing it in the story. An enormous animal, as big as the statue of the green woman in the bay. The animal looked a bit like a human but it was covered with black fur. I asked Howell about it and he knew exactly what I was talking about. That animal climbing the building was something called a gorilla and his name was King Kong. He was incredible. But King Kong was so… angry. He didn’t belong in this city. He didn’t belong in any city. He climbed this building and pounded his chest with rage.”
“He wanted to go home,” I said.
“I think so too,” said Francois.
There was a brief silence and then I asked, “What happened to King Kong in the end?”
“I don’t know,” said Francois. “I couldn’t stay and watch. It was too sad.”
Thanks for reading!
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