The Birds

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the world is not only just coming apart at the seams, but that a pissed off tailor has been left with one too many unpaid wedding gowns with expensive alterations, has lost his shit, and is grabbing the fabric of our world in one hand and a seam ripper in the other and is splitting us wide open in a primal, mad rage. I can’t really blame him —  in my post-married state, weddings still kind of piss me off too, although I’m working on that.

And in this heightened state of mad-tailor-seam-ripping, I think paranoia may be tapping at my door, or at the very least I’m having vague thoughts that we are headed for some kind of post-apocalyptic Mad Max world. Why you may ask? Unusual birds have begun to appear in my neighborhood, and rather than simply thinking that’s interesting or encouraging me to take up bird watching, I’m doing a Hans Solo and having a bad feeling about it. I’m thinking there’s a good reason Hitchcock picked birds for his movie and not, say, cockroaches, which are creepy and disgusting, but let’s face it, they can’t peck your eyes out. Birds are innocent and lovely to behold alone or in small groups, but there is something disturbing about them gathering by the hundreds in a tree; or finding them alone in an unlikely place, and they look at you with beady eyes as if to say, “I can have 1,000 eyeball-pecking birds here before you can tweet about my creepy stare.”

You see, a block from my house, I saw a chicken strutting in a straight line from right to left across a front lawn. I live in urban Revere, and believe me this is not a get-chickens-as-a-status-symbol type place. My instinct was to protect my eyes and call animal control. I mean even if there were a family that felt the need to have chickens, aren’t you supposed to keep them all together in a coop? And if you’ve let them loose, where are the others? I tried to peek around the back of the house to see if there was a coop, but I didn’t want to be too obvious. Although my neighborhood isn’t rough by any stretch of the imagination, it is inhabited by descendants of Italians, and they generally don’t take kindly to people poking around in their business.

Instead, I took a surreptitious photo and posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Chicken in Revere!” and moved on. That is, until a few weeks later, when I drove by the same house and saw a turkey striding across the same front lawn, in the same straight line, from the right side of the yard to the left. Only this time I couldn’t even get a picture because there were three other people crowding on the sidewalk taking one. That same day a friend posted a picture of a turkey she saw in the street near the station as she was getting off the commuter train. Hers seemed to be a wild turkey, and I would have thought the same of the one in Revere, only it was at the chicken house. I don’t think it’s paranoid to consider that in three years, I’ve seen no stray birds, and now the world is coming apart and I’ve seen two. At the same house. Gathering, one might say.

I joked on Facebook that I shuddered to think of what bird would be next. I was not amused by the person who suggested an ostrich or rhea, although I’d never heard of a rhea, so of course I had to look it up. I learned that rhea are a relative of the ostrich and are native to South America, so in my now paranoid mind, I decided it’s possible they could come overland to freak me out in Revere. Less likely is an ostrich, which would have to bust out of a zoo or commandeer a boat from Africa to come and get me. I’m telling you, at this point not much would surprise me, and I’m stocking up on canned goods, cigarettes, and booze.

So what bird did I see just a week or so later? One street over from the chicken/turkey house I saw a hawk floating in lazy, dangerous circles high up in the sky, very possibly looping over the chicken/turkey house. The circling implied to me that one false move on my part would lead to a swoop down and an eyeball pecking. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. A guy walking his medium-sized dog was also looking up repeatedly at those calculated, lazy circles. He looked very much like a man who was deciding if the bird was capable of taking his dog. In these are trying and unpredictable times, I’d put my money on the bird.

So there you have it– a chicken, turkey, and a bird of prey. And, no, they don’t walk into a bar, but they may very well be plotting something. What’s next? I have no idea, but if you see a news story about a body in Revere being pecked to the bone by birds, just remember: it starts with a damn chicken.

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