Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Writer's Revenge (or Roasted Pigeon)

We live in a fairly urban area, where no one has much land. My yard is bordered on three sides by a 6-foot privacy wood fence, over which we can sometimes hear the goings-on of our neighbors. We also live in a very ethnic area, so our neighbors are an interesting lot.

One of them is an avid home plumber. I noticed the other day that he had attached a small plastic pipe to the outflow from his washing machine, then run that pipe around the side of his house so his soapy water emptied into the little area between our houses. Very classy. I have no idea why this is a better idea than the normal way of connecting it.

Another house appears to be occupied by about 10 Brazilian 20-year-olds. These boys are mostly quiet, but sometimes, they'll have their friends over and spend the day listening to George Michael at 120 decibels and jumping off the roof into their pool. I didn't know George Michael was still cool among Brazilian kids, but I bet he'd be thrilled.

But today's blog entry is really about the three power lines that run between our houses and connect us all. It starts last spring, on a mild night when we were sitting in our backyard and heard a few flat splats!

"What was that?" asked my mother-in-law.

"I don't know," I said. "Could be anything around here."

Then a pigeon fell into our yard from where he had been perching on the power line. The pigeon had been shot in the neck. A few minutes later, a Brazilian kid pops up on his roof, looking down into our yard. I waved at him. He smiled (as a rule, Brazilians are very, very smiley people). Then I said, "Did you just shoot that pigeon?" He smiled again and looked like he didn't understand English. I have my doubts ...

Now, I'm not exactly loaded with sympathy for these pigeons. See, a third neighbor has gotten in the habit of feeding pigeons in her yard. This is a very nice family of Ecuadorians who grow mangoes and avocado. Although they don't speak English, I trade produce across the fence with them sometimes. Apparently, "mango" is the international word for "mango." We make it work.

But I could do without the pigeon feeding. My neighbor has trained a whole flock of pigeons to sit on this wire. It's a little cruel, I think, because it provides easy target practice for the Brazilians—who have since shot a handful of more birds and missed many others—but more importantly, it creates a mess for me. Ever scraped pigeon poop off a wooden fence after it's been cooked by a subtropical sun? I have. A lot.

So last night, I'm sitting outside, enjoying a beer after work and watching the pigeons sitting on the wire. There must have been 60 of them up there. All looking at me. Mocking me.

Then one of them pooped right on my fence. He didn't even have the decency to look away while he did it.

I got mad and a sudden vision went through my head. What if, I thought, what if I flung some kind of wire up there that connected the power wires? They're only a foot apart. It wouldn't be hard. All at once, the whole thing was as clear as a dream in my imagination. I saw the arc of electricity, the surge of power as the two electricity cables connected and shorted out my whole neighborhood, and the satisfying popping sound of 60 pigeons being flash roasted at once.

I would never actually do such a thing—even if I'm convinced the birds wouldn't be wasted. They would probably be eaten. (I suspect another of my neighbors is raising chickens in his yard.) But I'm just saying ... if you're neighbor's a writer, don't poop on his fence unless you want to die a gruesome, imaginary death.


Melanie Avila said...

I giggled all the way through this! I can totally see all these characters -- I mean neighbors -- and I'm STILL cracking up over the pigeons. You know pigeons frequently explode near our place in Mexico, right? Don't set the voltage too high or you'll have quite a mess on your hands.

Erica Orloff said...

OK . . . so between this post and last one, I see a standup act. Comedy writing.

LurkerMonkey said...


I think I remember reading about your exploding Mexican pigeons ... maybe that's where I got the idea. But I won't do it. I think.

LurkerMonkey said...


Even the idea of that is funny ...

Richmond Writer said...

Oh, that is funny. My secret dream is to spread ten pounds of dandelion seeds on my neighbor's yard. She is one of those people who say things like, "I paid thirty dollars a piece for ten azaleas. They didn't bloom pretty enough for me so I dug them up and threw them away." Her words exactly.

So I dream of her going on vacation and coming back to find her yard in full bloom.

LurkerMonkey said...


Ha ha. Let me know if you do it ... I can fertilize it with pigeon.