From his perch on the back of the giant pigeon Billy Joe Bob looked down on the park below. He’d been cruising along on an eastbound course from his home in Texas with plans to visit Disney World when suddenly the pigeon had other ideas, and for anyone who’s had occasion to ride a giant pigeon, you know what a handful they can be. And so instead of landing at Orlando, the pigeon had redoubled his speed and continued on for Miami, with Billy Joe Bob cursing and pulling at the reins the whole way.
With most of the people on the ground intent on pulling the enraged flock of smaller pigeons away from the wounded hawk, no one but Crow saw death approaching from the sky. “G-g-g-g-g-iant P-p-p-p-igeon!” he cried, but Frank just called over his shoulder, “No, they all seem normal size to me, but I’ve never seen pigeons behave in this way, although I have read ancient reports written on papyrus and archived at Ohio State University that seem to indicate …”
Frank’s story was interrupted when the giant pigeon, still bearing Billy Joe Bob on its back, touched down with a thud onto the sidewalk, a spurt of smoke erupting from its feet as they made contact with the pavement.
Looking up, everyone screamed, but it was too late, as the careening pigeon, which had misjudged the speed of his descent, barreled into them, sending all people and creatures sprawling. Finally, out of the wreck, emerged Billy Joe Bob.
“Well I swear, I ain’t had a ride like that since I drew Old Number Seven in the bull ridin’ on Day 3 of the 1983 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Hooboy, what a ride. Get up, everbody, I don’t see no blood, unless yer countin’ that old hawk over there. Man, somebody sure opened up a can o’ whuppass on that poor sonofagun!”
Just then the smaller pigeons started getting back to their feet and were moving in to attack the hawk again, but the giant pigeon just cooed once, loudly. The smaller birds answered and called off their attack, though everyone thought they still had a malevolent look in their beady eyes.
“Columba inornata giganta,” said Frank to no one in particular while gazing in wonder at the giant bird.
“Naw, it ain’t nuthin’ but a huge damned pigeon,” said Billy Joe Bob.
“I heard everything was bigger in Texas,” said LadyMoonChaser, gazing at Billy Joe Bob with new interest.
“He needs some kind of shoes so his feet won’t get hurt when he lands,” said Beith, still dripping wet from the alligator pit. “But then maybe the shoes would be hurt, so I’m not sure what would be best. I’m so confused.”
“What’s the story here, Billy Joe Bob?” asked Selene, similarly in disarray after her wet arrival in Florida. “I’m a Native Texan, and I have to say I don’t recall seeing any birds like that when I lived there.”
“Well, yer plum right about that Selene, though I’ll point out that when ye moved outa Texas, ye fergot how to talk, too, so that just goes to show that yer memory ain’t as good as some folks think it is. But like I said, yer right that this here is the first giant pigeon I ever seen, too, but he is Texan, through and through. What happened was that I bought me a little ranch just a few miles downwind from the Comanche Peak nuclear reactor, and one day this sonofagun flew over me when I was out ridin’ fence. It total spooked my horse, and I’m ashamed to say that he throwed me, and when this pigeon landed, I figgered I was a goner. But the thing is, his brain is as big as his body, and when I started sweet talkin’ him, he total understood me and took a likin’ to me, as most people and critters does. Well I took him back to the ranch and I saddle broke him, which wasn’t no hard work for me, and we been flyin’ around for a couple weeks now, though this is the first trip I’ve taken out of state. We was goin to Disney World on account o’ I ain’t never seen that place, but just about the time I caught a sight of that Mickey Mouse feller, this old boy took off like his tail was on fire, and next thing I knowed, we was over the park and comin’ in for a landin’. Now maybe somebody here can tell me what in tarnation is goin’ on.”
Crow started to tell the story, but since he was still feeling a little weak after his encounter with the bougainvillea stake, he sat down and rested while Laurelin took up the story.
When she’d finished, Billy Joe Bob was incredulous. “Are you serious that you got yerself a flyin’ lion? Well shucks, if we get him together with this sonofagun here,” he said, indicating the giant pigeon, “We’ll have us a regular Pagan Air Force, I reckon.”
Meanwhile, Lady Nimue had run over to the injured hawk and was checking on its injuries. “Oh, the poor thing is covered with blood,” she said.
Frank walked over and looked over her shoulder. “But you can clearly see that some of this blood is old. That blood on its talons, for instance, is at least a day old. I wonder what this came from?” He took out his penknife, and since the hawk was too weak to resist, scraped some of the dried blood from its talons and into a test tube that he produced from a pocket in his vest. He then turned to Lady Nimue. “Where did you bury the pigeon that I heard you talking about before, the one for which you were an accessory to murder?”
“No, I don’t. … What did you say? Accessory to murder? No, you have it wrong, just like those others, I didn’t do anything to my pigeon. I loved my pigeon, I would never want to see it harmed. And as for burial, there was nothing to bury. There was nothing there but a few feathers, which I made into this brooch to remember him by.”
“That will do nicely,” said Frank. “Give me one feather, and I can do a DNA test.
Lady Nimue gave Frank a feather, and the scientist retreated to his vehicle, where he quickly conducted the test while everyone waited. Soon he was coming back.
“It is as I thought. This hawk is the very one that killed Lady Nimue’s pigeon. The DNA from the blood taken off his talons matches that taken from the feather.”
Lady Nimue, who was cradling the injured hawk, burst into tears, but soon raised her tear-stained face and said, “It matters not. This poor, injured creature shall have shelter in my home, until she is again able to fly.”
Everyone looked happy with that decision, except perhaps for the pigeons, but their giant brother kept them in check, though no one was sure of his motives.
“I still don’t trust her,” said Kat Lady. “But you have to admit one thing, sheltering the very hawk that killed her pigeon does have a nice sense of balance.”
Suddenly everyone heard a scream from back in the direction from which they’d come. “Hey, come on everybody,” said EarthWard. “That sounded like Donagh MacBran!”
Crow got back to his feet. No crowded electric cars for him this time; he hoped to hitch a ride with Frank.