As Mike and I prepared to leave we noticed a group of people standing outside the entrance to the park. As we approached we saw that they were looking at a large man holding, in one large hand, some sort of small stunned bird. The bird was black and white above and lemon-yellow below, with a dull red scalp and a long needle-like beak. It was perhaps the size of a starling or robin redbreast, both of which are common here, but I had never seen anything like it before. Its four toes were arranged not like a pigeon's or a sparrow's, three in front and one in back, but like a parrot's, two and two.
"I have some experience in rehabilitation," I ventured.
"Here, you want it?" the large man said, thrusting the little bird into my hand. The bird's long beak was agape: I could see its sliverlike tongue. It was blinking and looking about.
As Mike and I moved away the bird began to stir. Soon it was struggling to free itself from my grasp, and so I opened my hand and it flew away, crapping on some innocent passers-by. It clung to the side of a building with its strangely configured feet. The next time we looked it had gone.
On the basis of hasty research conducted at Barnes and Noble we decided that it was probably a female yellow-bellied sapsucker, a kind of woodpecker. I don't know how much sap it's going to find to suck here in Manhattan; I hope it does all right.
According to Mike, the Twin Towers stood directly in a major migratory path. Every day, at least during certain periods of the year, dozens of birds (some of them endangered) would crash into them and fall to the ground stunned, wounded, or dead. I have since learned that because of this, thin netting was stretched across the façades of the lower floors so that confused birds would bounce off it rather than crashing into the buildings themselves.
So, stunned yellow-bellied sapsucker, World Trade Center, bird-friendly netting, terrorist attack. This is a good example of what pisses me off about real life: it gives you a lot to work with, but no narrative. Whatever narrative exists is the narrative that you hew out of the living bulk of reality as you progress through it. Like most editing jobs, this is a strenuous, underappreciated, and largely solitary effort.
Here's Eyeteeth's World Trade Center aftermath story for this week. On Monday I went to dinner with Neil, a guy I worked with back when I worked in an office. We ate, got Napoleons and espresso at Veniero's, and finally went to K-Mart, where Neil intended to get some cat food and household necessaries.
It was in the shampoo-and-conditioner section of K-Mart that we heard it, a deep rumble getting louder and louder. It seemed to be coming toward us through the wall of the store. Neil paused, his hand on a bottle of conditioner, and for a few seconds we stared at each other in mute terror. Then: "That's a train," he said calmly.
"We must be right under a train line," I said.
We went on to the cat food. "This is the way we live now," said Neil.