The Pigeon


Something caught my eye this morning as I was going about my normal routine, a movement just outside my apartment window. I turned and saw a pigeon standing on his side of the ledge, peering at me through the glass. I had seen birds fly past my window before, many times, but I don’t recall any ever landing outside my window, at least not while I was standing looking through it. But birds do tend to live outside, so I moved on, giving it no further thought.

Walking past that same window about half an hour later, I saw him (her?) again. At least, I think it was the same bird, but as they all look very similar, it would have been difficult to say with any certainty. This time, however, I noticed something unusual about the bird–it had something attached to one of its legs.

I walked slowly and cautiously over to the window. The bird seemed unafraid as I approached, and even as I raised the window with a painstaking timidity, it never moved. It just stood there, watching me.

I didn’t try to reach out to it, not at first. I spoke softly to it, though I can’t imaging how the bird could hear my voice over the noises of the street below. “Well, bird,” I said, almost in a whisper, “where is your nest? I don’t see it up here anywhere.” Of course I didn’t expect the bird to answer, that would almost certainly indicate I was acting out a very realistic dream. I left the window open and went about the rest of my morning get-ready, sometimes talking at the bird as I went. Just before I began gathering my things to head out the door, I turned again back to the bird–only this time, he was standing inside my window. Not far inside, just one step onto the windowsill on my side of the glass, and still completely unafraid.

I tentatively walked to where the pigeon seemed to be waiting for me. He held out the leg with the attachment, and I could see that it was made of a soft leather, probably a deerskin, and it was held on with narrow strips of the material gently knotted. Untying it and unwinding it took much less time than I had predicted, and I was soon holding a diary-sized piece of very normal paper with a message:

Congratulations–this bird has chosen you as its new partner. He isn’t much of a companion, but he has brought me communiques from some very remote places. It is rumored he was instrumental in solving a murder mystery in Vladovostok. The message he brought me first didn’t indicate a name, and the legging he is wearing is the same one he came to me with about five years ago. It doesn’t seem to have been affected by time or weather. PS–he doesn’t always come back.

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