A New Plan
Things haven’t quite gone to plan…
For those who are new here, this is the ongoing story of a lost pigeon named Lew in New York City and the challenges he must face. If you aren’t up-to-date, not to worry!
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Now, please enjoy today’s new chapter!
Francois was sitting in his little cardboard box, waiting for take-off. Joan and I each took one lengthways end of the rectangular box that had once, by the smell of it, housed fried chicken. We were feeling around the cardboard edge of the box, figuring out how we were going to latch on with our little claws. Eventually, I found a hold that seemed solid. Joan and I nodded to each other. We were good to go.
“Wait!” said Ruby.
She was looking up towards the roof of the mall across the street. Another curious party had entered the picture – a couple of pigeons from Joan’s group of Central Park friends.
We immediately let go of the cardboard box and tucked ourselves in against the walls of the ledge we were on, hiding.
Peeking up at the mall roof, I saw the two pigeons sniffing around and scanning the area.
“What are they doing here?” I asked Joan.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Checking in on you guys? Maybe they noticed I snuck off.”
The distant pigeons walked along the ledge of the roof, searching, and we stayed tucked away in the shadows, Francois still in his cardboard box.
After a long couple of minutes, the pigeons on the roof finally took off.
A brief quiet followed.
Francois popped up his head from the cardboard box.
“Come on then,” he said.
We set ourselves up around Francois’ little cardboard vehicle, finding our grips – Joan and I on either side and Ruby to guide us. Ruby counted us down.
“3… 2… 1!”
We heaved our wings and lifted the box into the air. At first, we stayed on the ledge, just hovering slightly off the ground, testing our set-up. Francois was heavier than I expected. I had to clench my claws into the cardboard. I could already feel my muscles beginning to strain.
It was obvious from the placid look on Joan’s face that she was leagues stronger than I was. On her end, there was no stress at all.
She nodded to me and I nodded back. It was go time.
We took off slowly and carefully, pulling away from the ledge and out above the honking, churning street.
Joan had explained to Ruby where our destination was in the city. Ruby instantly knew exactly where to go. Two veterans of New York, the task didn’t require much discussion.
The journey was much trickier once we were out in the open above the bustling cars below. I was used to flying on my own, wings out wide slicing through the air, or otherwise wings tucked in to make myself into one sharp narrow point. Holding Francois in between us, balance was challenging and everything felt off.
The tall flanking buildings of the city created narrow laneways for the wind to come charging down. Normally, it wouldn’t be any trouble. In fact, the gusts of window were usually helpful. If you were going in the right direction, you could glide along with satisfying ease. Now though, the bulky box was holding us back, scooping up air and slowing us down.
Ruby guided us across town towards the home of Joan’s human friends. Mostly, things were going smoothly.
Just as we were getting comfortable, we passed by a construction site. There was dust in the air. Suddenly, I felt a tickle in my nostrils. Before I knew it, I let out a giant sneeze and one of my claws slipped from the cardboard. The weight of my side of the box all fell to my other claw. I squeezed it tight and just managed to keep hold. The whole box tilted as I scrambled to regain a better grip. Joan gritted her beak and had to hold on tight to fight against the extra weight that had shifted to her side.
I glanced down and saw the thunderstorm of cars below us. This wasn’t the place to let my claw slip.
Ruby was quick to act and flew to my side to try and help steady the box. I was able to get my claws on the cardboard again and we eventually steadied ourselves back to normal. Crisis averted, at least for the time being…
Finally, we made it to the windowsill that Joan had brought me to previously and we carefully set down Francois’ box. There were lights on inside the apartment, but the window was closed.
Joan walked up to the window and gently pecked at the glass with her beak. We all waited for a response, hoping desperately for a human to appear. Joan tapped the glass again. Time dragged on; no one was showing up.
Just before the despair set in, a human figure suddenly appeared inside the apartment. They looked around, seemingly confused, and then they saw us.
They walked over and opened up the window. I had seen the same human there last time. They looked at us for a moment and then they dipped back inside to get another human to come and look as well.
Two humans at the window now, the pair of them made noises back and forth at each other – talking, I guess, in that strange unmusical way that only humans talk.
One of the humans walked away and then came back with a cleaner box. This new box also had a lid with holes in it.
They took off the lid and put the box down on the windowsill next to the greasy box that we had brought Francois in.
One of the humans held out their hands above Francois, about to pick him up, giving him a moment to prepare himself, not wanting to startle him.
Francois looked very different to how I had ever seen him. His eyes were suddenly big and scared and young.
“It’s ok,” Joan told him.
The human gently scooped Francois up and transferred him to the new box.
The humans let us have one last moment with him.
“Take care of Lew,” he told Joan and Ruby.
Just like that, the humans closed the lid.
The language barrier with the humans didn’t matter. In that moment, everyone understood everything. For some reason, I had complete faith in them. The humans would do whatever they could to help him.