A Pigeon's First Day in New York City
Lew is about to arrive at a city where the buildings are big and the pigeons are tough...
Check out “A Lost Pigeon Named Lew” in the Story Whale archive to catch up on Lew’s story!
My wing was a mess while I was on the cruise ship. I couldn’t scavenge during the day when everyone was eating by the pool. I was too slow. If anyone chased me the best I could do was waddle away. And let me tell you this: humans get annoyed when they have to chase pigeons away, but they get extra annoyed when the pigeon they’re chasing doesn’t even have the good manners to quickly fly off. If you don’t immediately scatter, the humans feel like you’re disrespecting them, and that’s when you really risk copping their wrath.
So I had to only scavenge at night. And it gets mighty cold and mighty dark when you are out at sea. They were some of the iciest, longest nights of my life.
I missed my family and friends. I had never been away from them for more than a couple of hours in my entire life. Even if we weren’t always affectionate with each other, we were always together. We pigeons are a close-knit bunch. We search for food and water together, we rest together, we raise each other, we spend our whole lives together.
The humans on that cruise seemed to be having the time of their lives. I just wanted to go home.
I remember the morning we arrived at New York City. I was sleeping, tucked away under some shade at a quiet part on the cruise deck. When I got up, I felt like a mess. I hadn't been finding much food lately. I remember I hopped up onto the railing to see where we were. Initially, I was ecstatic. I could see land! I was finally going to be able to get off that wicked ship. But then I saw her... a giant green woman the size of a building. I was terrified. She was standing on this little island, reaching one arm up into the air, holding up a torch. She was standing there powerfully on her own on a little island. If scavenging food from humans wasn't hard enough, now there were going to be people big enough to knock me out with a stray sneeze.
Then I spotted the pigeons sitting on her shoulder... and I realised the giant green woman was just a statue (and statues, I might add, for us pigeons, are some of our greatest allies in the entire world). After a sigh of relief that I was not entering a land full of enormous green humans, I felt the urge to take off into the air and fly over to my fellow pigeons up there on the statue's shoulder. I braced to launch, but then I hesitated. I could feel the tenderness in my wing. It still stung.
My only other option was staying on the cruise ship, but I didn't want to spend one more lonesome second on that boat. So I just went for it.
I jumped off the railing and started flapping my wings. My injured wing ached with every flap of movement. My whole body was weak and sore, but I just kept at it.
I pushed on and started to rise higher into the air, lifting upwards. When I finally got to the shoulder of the green statue, I was panting and out of breath.
I looked up and all of the other pigeons were staring at me.
I could barely get the word out through all of my gasps for air. "Hello."
No one replied. I wondered briefly if they spoke a different language here.
As I stood there, gradually catching my breath, I began to realise that these pigeons were very different from my friends and family back home... They were bigger -- much bigger. And a lot of them had scars on their faces and claws missing from their feet. One pigeon just had two nubs for his feet.
The biggest pigeon of the lot of them then stepped forward.
His beak was chipped in multiple places and his voice was deep. "You lost?" he said.
"Yes," I said. "Where am I?"
Some of the pigeons chuckled.
"New York City," said the big one. "And you are in for a world of trouble."
They chuckled louder.
I felt dizzy from the flight up there and all I wanted was food.
"Do you have any food?" I asked.
"Not for you," said the leader, and then he looked to the others. "Time to fly out."
They were all about to get going.
"Wait," I said. "Can I come?"
The big pigeon turned to me.
"You're just another mouth to feed," he said. "You're too small and your wing is broken. Go pester someone else. You'll only slow us down."
He then lifted up and flew at a hover.
"Let's go, everyone," he said.
The big pigeon took off and the other pigeons started taking off too. Once they cleared away, I saw that one of them had stayed behind.
"There's a boat that will take you to the mainland," she said. "Once you're there, find one of the yellow cars. They go all across town. You'll find something to eat."
Before I could say thank you, she took off after the others.
And then I was alone all over again. That was when I looked up and properly took in the city in the distance for the first time. My little jaw dropped. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. An endless forest of astonishing buildings.
At that moment I spotted a boat starting to take off from the small island that I was currently on. I thought of what the pigeon had told me and then I went for it. I glided down and landed on the railing of the top deck. Sure enough, the boat started to take me towards the big city. I knew what I had to do next. I needed to find one of those yellow cars...
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