Like Lew, Joan was once a lost pigeon in New York City too...
Today’s story is part of the Lew series and follows Joan’s story of life in New York City.
If you’re new here, the Lew series follows the story of a lost pigeon named Lew in New York City. Here’s a link to the full series on Lew:
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I grew up somewhere very different from here. There weren’t buildings and cars everywhere. It was open. You had space to breathe. It was like city blocks, but every block was its own big farm.
I was with my mum and dad and all of my brothers and sisters. Everything was so simple. We weren’t in full-on survival mode. We didn’t have to be. We got to just live our lives and do what we wanted. There was no scrounging for scraps in bins or sleeping out in the rain. We had everything we needed.
We roamed freely from farm to farm, chomping down berries and fruits, wheat and corn. We ate like kings and queens.
Things were peaceful. It was easy to stay away from the humans. There were other birds, but no one fought. There was enough food to go around.
One day we were out looking for some food to eat. We were flying across a road from one farm to another when I spotted something shiny on the ground. I flew down to check it out and saw that it was a torn pack of potato chips. I didn’t even think about it. I just started eating.
A few of my brothers and sisters were with me on the road, picking at the bag of chips. It’s not like we hadn’t seen cars before in life. We did, just not often. Still, though, we felt their danger. But you know what it’s like. There’s just something magical about crispy potato bits covered in salt.
As we were getting to the end of the bag, I stuck my head inside it to eat up the last little crumbs and bits of salt. Then I heard it – a rumbling sound that tore apart the previously tranquil countryside.
I felt a pang of panic. My head was still buried in the bag of chips. All I saw was darkness. I tried to wriggle free, but the bag wasn’t budging. I danced around and squirmed, trying to get free. My siblings were trying to tear the bag off of me, but nothing was working. I was getting more and more panicked as the loud sound grew nearer. Then there was true darkness…
The truck knocked me out cold. Who knows how long I was out for. When I woke up my mind was completely hazy.
Everything was still dark too, except this time it wasn’t because of a bag of chips. I was stuck in a small box with a few random columns of light.
I stood up and was suddenly overwhelmed with pain. One of my wings was badly broken. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced.
From then on it was a lot of just falling asleep and waking up, falling asleep, waking up.
Eventually, finally, I saw proper light. I was pulled out of the box and I was surrounded by humans. I fought hard, but they quickly stabbed me with a long sharp thing that put me straight back to sleep.
For weeks, I was kept in a cage in a room with a bunch of other birds, each in their own cage too. Humans would come and go and every now and then they would bring me out and poke around my busted wing. I thought it was just a matter of time before they ate me. It took me a long time to settle down and realise they were helping me.
It wasn’t such a bad place once I got used to it. I had all the water I wanted and I was kept well-fed. My wing was slowly getting better too.
And then, one day, they were done with me. I was taken out in my cage and released into the park.
That was to be my first true day in New York City.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. Everything was loud and everything was always moving. Nothing stayed still. I couldn’t just sit somewhere and relax. A car would come honking by or a human would shoo me away.
I flew to a random roof and hid in a corner. I was petrified, too scared to move. I just wanted to go home.
For days, I ate nothing but foul scraps from an alley bin and drank from puddles. I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker.
Then I met Francois. I was drinking from a rooftop puddle when I heard his voice.
“You can’t drink that,” he said. “It’ll make you sick.”
From then on, he took me under his wing and showed me how the city worked. He taught me about the cats in the alleys and the stagnant water you mustn’t drink, where to go for food and where to go for shelter. I owed him everything for how much he helped me.
He was like a dad to me…
He had his schemes then too, just like he does now with the mall heist. Everyday was the same. It would just be him chipping away at his project. Planning, planning, planning.
It went on that way for weeks and weeks. I know it sounds horrible, but I couldn’t stand it. He was stuck in his ways, and so I was stuck too.
I was young and I was getting more used to the city. I wanted to explore. The boredom was eating me up.
Then I met Mac and the other pigeons that you met in Central Park. I know they’re not the nicest bunch. I’m not blind. But I couldn’t take it with Francois. You know what he’s like. He works slowly. He’s methodical. He’s cautious.
I thought Francois was going to hate me.
That’s why I haven’t seen him in a long time. I was avoiding him.
But anyway, it’s almost night-time. The billboard club will be opening soon.
Let’s go get Francois and go find Ruby…
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