– Aw, come on, Birdy! This is Al here, all the way from Dix. Stop it, huh!
I lean back and poke my head out into the corridor. The queer looking guard-orderly type in the white coat’s still at the other end.
I peer through the cage door. Birdy’s squatting in the middle of the floor, not even looking at me. He’s squatting the same way he used to squat in the loft when he was sewing feathers on that creepy pigeon suit of his. If this doctor-major-psychiatrist here ever finds out about that pigeon suit, he’ll sure as hell chain Birdy right to the floor.
Sometimes it’d scare the crap out of me. I’d climb up to the loft expecting only pigeons and Birdy’d be hunched in the back, in the dark, sewing feathers on those long johns. Birdy could come up with the weirdest ideas.
And now, here he is again, hunkering in the middle of this white room, ignoring me. I sneak another look along the corridor.
– Come on, Birdy. Cut it out! I know you’re not really a bird! This section eight crap doesn’t make sense. The stupid war’s over for Christ’s sake! Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, the whole shitload; kaput!
Nothing. Maybe he is a loon. I wonder if this psychiatrist knowswe call him Birdy? Birdy’s old lady wouldn’t tell; probably doesn’t even know.
Birdy turns his back on me. He just spins in his squat. He keeps his hands against his sides and twists around. He’s staring up at the sky through a small, high window on the other side of the room.
The doctor-major told me I’m supposed to talk about things Birdy and I did together. They shipped me out of the hospital at Dix to come down here. My face is still wrapped in bandages. I’m between operations. It hurts to eat or talk and I’ve been talking like crazy since nine o’clock in the morning. I can’t think of any more things to say.
– Hey Birdy! How about when we built the pigeon loft up in the tree down in the woods?
Maybe talking about that’ll get him. Birdy’s old lady made us rip down the first loft, the one in his yard. Birdy’s house is part of the Cosgrove estate; used to be the gate house. The Cosgrove house and barn burned down years ago. Birdy’s house is just over the left-center field fence of the baseball field. The baseball field is built on the old Cosgrove pasture; last open place left around there.
– Hey Birdy! What in hell did your old lady do with all those baseballs?
Birdy’s old lady’d keep any baseballs that went over the fence into their yard. Ball players didn’t even try anymore. Semi-pros, everybody, gave up. Hit a homer over that fence, into Birdy’s yard; good-bye, ball. Nothing to do but throw in a new one. It got to be expensive playing in that ball park if you were a long-ball-hitting right-hander.
What the hell could she’ve done with all those baseballs? Birdy and I used to look for those baseballs everywhere around his place. Maybe she buried them, or she could’ve sold them; big black market source for used baseballs.
– Hey Birdy! Remember those Greenwood bastards? They never did find our loft up in that tree. Shit, there sure were some creeps in our neighborhood!
Those Greenwood kids’d bust up anything they could get their hands on. They’d steal bikes, pigeons, everything not nailed down.
This loft was a great place for pigeons to home on and nobody’d have any idea it was up there. We kept a rope ladder in a hole under some bushes. We had a hook on it and used to throw it over a branch to climb up.
– Remember that rope ladder we used to climb up, Birdy? Jesus, we were screwballs when you think about it!
I keep talking, watching Birdy, trying to tell if he’s listening. He’s still staring out that high window on the back wall.
He’s certainly pitiful-looking squatting on the middle of the floor in thin, white hospital pajamas. He’s squatting flat on his feet with his knees together, his head thrust forward, his arms against his sides, his fingers hooked behind him. The way he squats, you’d think maybe he just might spring up, flap his arms a few times and fly out that window he’s got his eye on.
It was a terrific loft we built down there in the woods. It was smaller than our first place, the one in his yard. Our first flock in Birdy’s yard was big. There were ten pairs, and two extra cocks. We had all good stock, no junk birds, no cornys, all purebred. I figure if you’re going to spend money on feed, you might’s well have good birds. Birdy’s
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