I lay on my bed and stare out the window sometimes. From my view I get the perfect shot of two pigeons sitting on the roof across from me; preening each other for hours. I assume they are lovers, the way they’re so attentive and as the weeks go on the story in my mind grows.
His name is Bryan and she’s Debby and they had been together since childhood. They were from the other side of town but a few years ago, the black sheep that they are, they decided to leave their friends and family and fly over to this up and coming neighborhood full of immigrant families, artists and new parents. They fit right in on a social level, but as we all find in Vancouver, new acquaintences are always friendly at first but sometimes flakey in the long run. Instead of being disappointed that no one came to their BBQ or had the time to check out their reno’s; they learned to keep to themselves and enjoy each others company. And they did. Immensely.
When they questioned why they moved away from what they knew Bryan would ask “Do you want to live a boring life?” and Deb would smile and say “Of course not hon” and she’d ruffle her feathers and just get on with it. They aged well together, with not too many creaks to complain about and were content with this roof to preen on during the day and the cozy attic they slept in at night. They were proud when their two baby pigeons moved out of the nest and they privately enjoyed being back to just the two of them again. They didn’t have the food sourcing stresses they had come to think of as normal in their earlier days of marriage and they were weirdly content with just each other. They saw other couples mate for a single season, sometimes making it to two, but like the rest of their species, all their neighbors were polyamorous, and preferred the more fluid lifestyle of nesting with more than one bird, so this pigeon pair always felt like the odd ducks out.
Every night, just as the sun set, they’d fly off the roof together and land on the house next door. They’d crawl through a hole on our third floor balcony into our attic and every night we’d hear them cooing each other to sleep.
And then the gutter guys came, noticed we had pigeons in our attic, told us that was not only structurally dangerous but also a health hazard and we realized how stupid we had been to allow sky rats to live and defecate piles of shit a few feet about our newborn baby’s head every night, so the gutter fellows tacked up some flash paper over the hole one afternoon and locked them out of their house.
Except Debby wasn’t feeling well that morning and didn’t join Bryan on the roof like normal so that particular morning she decided to stay in the attic for a few more hours of sleep.
Night fell and Bryan came back to the hole in the attic and saw the flash paper blocking his entry. He pecked at it, he pulled at it with his claws. He couldn’t get inside. She was directly on the other side of the thin barrier cooing to her beloved.
I know this because I saw it happen.
He slept outside that night, under the eaves and she slept trapped inside with her body pressed up against the mesh.
This went on for two weeks. Bryan did not leave his watch. Not once did he visit the roof next door. Not once did he abandon his wife.
And we heard her. Bashing. Crashing. Flapping against the rafters. She wouldn’t let up. She had no food. I have no idea how she did it, but the bird would kamikaze fly from one end of our attic to the other, smashing into the walls, be still for hours on end and then with a rush of life force we’d hear her flap her wings, fall down, flutter again, crash and then (what sounded like) beat a dog with a stick. At one point she got stuck between the stairs and the wall and she spent a good few days there pounding with such vigor I thought that she may shatter the plaster and find herself in our kitchen.
I’d writhe when I heard her.
I’d leave the house for hours at a time.
I’d play loud music.
We discussed removing the flash paper but my husband reminded me it took three trained professionals with climbing gear on to scale the house with safety harnesses and he just didn’t feel comfortable risking his life without similar precautions.
So we waited.
A day would go by with no sound.
I’d say a prayer, glad she was finally at peace and then without warning in the middle of the night she’d be at it again, full force, rejuvenated with will.
And as the weeks wore on Bryan stayed where he was, under our eavestrough, waiting for his wife.
Finally, after three entire weeks, about three days after not hearing anything we assumed Debby had finally let go and we all breathed out a huge sigh of grief and relief.
But not Bryan, he’s still there. Right now he’s there. Every single night he’s there. Our eavesthrough is piling up with shit.
On sunny days he sometimes comes back to perch on the neighbors roof and this change of scenery is a big step for Bryan, but at night, he always returns to the opening in the attic. He cuddles tight against the wall where the roof meets the gutter and he holds vigil for Debby, his one true love.