by Victor Thorn
With Nashville nothing but a distant memory, we made Memphis by midnight, where we quickly hit a 7-11, bought two 12-paks, then ambled to Duke's apartment in the Arbors. I grabbed the beer and our suitcases from the trunk while my partner-in-crime snagged his guitar and a small handbag. After climbing a flight of steps and unlocking the door, Duke snarled, "I forgot to check the mail. I'll be back in a second."
As he sauntered down the stairs, I entered his apartment, turned on a light, and threw our belongings on the couch. That's when I heard a distinct FLAP FLAP FLAPPING sound coming from somewhere in the room. Then, without warning, I saw it swooping down toward me from the ceiling with a look of murder in its eyes. Covering my head, I raced out of Duke's living room, slamming the door behind me, lucky not to have had my eyes pecked out.
Moments later Duke returned, finding me in a panic. "What's wrong with you?" he laughed while shuffling through his mail.
"There's a huge blackbird in your living room that's the size of a pterodactyl. It's just like the one in that movie The Omen!"
"You gotta be kidding me."
"No. I threw our bags on the couch; then this monster swooped down from nowhere and almost tore my head off. I thought it was going to rip my eyes out like they did in that Hitchcock movie. That thing's a killer. Go see for yourself," I said breathlessly.
Duke walked tentatively toward the door, grabbed the knob, and then stood frozen for a moment. "I can't do it. I can't go in there."
"You have to. We gotta get rid of that thing," I said to Duke, glad that it was his apartment and not mine.
"How did it get in there anyway?" he asked, definitely perturbed, "I closed all the windows and locked the doors before we left. I even shut the sliding-glass door on the balcony. How did he get in there?"
"Do you have any holes in your roof?" I asked, "I had a place in L.A. that leaked so bad that every time it rained we had to put kettles on my bed to catch all the water."
"No, there aren't any holes," Duke said sarcastically before exclaiming, "The fireplace! That's the only place he could have gotten in."
"Your flue's open?"
"Yeah," he replied, slowly opening the door while shielding his eyes. He then pointed to the floor. "Look at all the ashes over there by the carpet. I'll bet he crawled down the chimney."
Not hearing any sounds, we started to look around, only to find birdshit all over Duke's vertical blinds, on the stereo, the TV, and in his kitchen sink. That damned bird shit everywhere, including on top of his window ledge, the refrigerator, and even in Duke's bathtub.
Enraged by this disgusting sight, Duke swore, "I'll bet that fucker shit all over my bedroom, too. We have to get that thing outta here."
Not sure where to start, though, we both popped a beer, agreeing on a strategy. Duke would open his sliding-glass door from the balcony while I flushed the bird out from the inside. The only problem: where was he?
As Duke tip-toed to his balcony, I snuck into his bedroom, wondering all the while if this bird from hell would swoop down on me and start pecking my flesh. "Where is that bastard?" I kept whispering, "Where is he?"
Then, from out of nowhere, the demon blackbird flew madly from a closet shelf, missing my head by mere inches. As I ducked out of range, the arrogant monster circled the room once more, then perched itself atop a lampshade, staring into my eyes as if he were a stalker intent on killing its prey.
I let out a holler and quickly fled once again, meeting Duke in the hallway. Pacing nervously, Duke asked, "Why didn't you chase him out of the room?"
Regaining my composure, I told him I didn't know why; then said I wasn't going to be the one to get his eyeballs pecked out by some lunatic bird. Losing patience with his intruder, Duke stormed into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. But he couldn't have been in there for more than ten seconds when he raced out faster than I had.
"What happened?" I panted, thinking we may be in the middle of a psychotic horror movie.
"I walked in my bedroom, and there he was, waiting. Not wanting to scare him, I picked up a golf shoe real slow, and then buzzed it at his head. But guess what that maniac did. I swear to God, it didn't move an inch. It just sat there and laughed at me, right in my face."
"It didn't even flinch. Then it swooped down at me with those gigantic black wings and those beady little eyes. But worst of all was its beak. He was actually leering at me and licking his lips."
I wasn't sure if birds had lips or not, but that didn't seem to matter at the moment. Instead, I said, "Duke, I don't think that bird wants to leave. You might have to keep him as a pet and feed it raw meat like a vulture. For all we know he might have sent out telepathic messages to all his friends while you were attacking him, and now they're sitting in those trees in your backyard waiting to kill us. I think you should just go in there and tell him that he can stay as long as he wants, even if he did shit on your pillow."
"It shit on my pillow?" Duke screamed, his eyes bulging.
"Didn't you see it?" I chuckled. "Hell, that bird's so bad that he probably brought one of his girlfriends over and banged her right on your bed!"
"It shit on my bed?" Duke repeated.
"Yeah, plus he laid a couple of slimers on your sheets, plus I saw some ploppage on your black dresser, and a big ol' load on your address book. Hell, he even pinched a loaf on your nightstand."
"That's it!" Duke snarled as he bolted into his living room, soon to return with a golf club raised overhead. "All right you little fucker. You wanna shit on my pillow, do you? Then this is war. I'll cram this nine-iron right up your ass!"
Throwing caution to the wind, Duke raced to his bedroom door, twisted the handle, and then sped inside. Standing in the doorway, I heard Duke let out a crazed series of whooping noises; then all of a sudden there it was--that WHOOSHING sound again. From nowhere the blackbird descended toward Duke. Momentarily startled, my buddy started swinging his club wildly in the air and whacking his unmade bed. All the while, the demonic vulture flapped wildly, sensing the danger around him. Unfazed, the Duke kept swinging his club, knocking over a lamp and upsetting everything in sight with manic fury. The blackbird; more focused than ever, kept flying at my buddy's head until finally the Duke swung his golf club and clipped one of the bird's wings. Stunned, the blackbird circled and swooped one final time, then realized that the person before him was even crazier than he was. So, resigned, the blackbird flew through the door past my head and made a hasty exit out the sliding-glass door, its fallen feathers swirling in the darkened air.
Overjoyed that we were finally freed from this torment, I rushed into Duke's bedroom to see him red-faced, panting for breath. Pumped with adrenaline, he kept slamming his golf club insanely onto his bed while boasting, "C'mon, motherfucker, you want some more of me? I'll take on every one of you rotten little bastards. You wanna shit on my bed, huh? C'mon and try it now!"
As Duke's flurry of bravado persisted, I picked up a black feather from the floor and placed it above his fireplace, a trophy not only for his bravery, but also a reminder to not leave his flue open whenever he went out of town. Now all we had to do was clean-up the birdshit that seemed to cover every conceivable inch of his apartment.
Victor Thorn is a political activist, publisher, and writer, who currently resides in State College, Pennsylvania. Thorn has written several books, including the novel The End of Fiction (Sisyphus Press, 2000) and the political expose The New World Order Exposed (Sisyphus Press, 2003). He also edited Babel Magazine, a weekly literary ezine, from 2001-2003, and two Babel-associated print books, Rebellious Confessions (Black Sheep Books, 2002) and The Bukowski Hangover Project (Poison Candy/Sisyphus Press, 2003). He currently edits, produces, and publishes Wing Magazine and Wing TV, and runs Sisyphus Press. He is also nice to kitty-cats.