It all started when I took Molly to one of the downtown parks here in Morelia, a park crammed with pretty flowers, spraying fountains and Jacarandas in full bloom. We soon found ourselves enjoying a quiet rest on a shady bench, the aging cathedral partially visible through the tall trees.
It was then I noticed a pigeon resting on the arm of Molly’s wheelchair. Before I could scare the bird away, Molly broke into a smile. “What a beautiful bird!” she cried.
“It’s only a pigeon,” I reminded her. “A dirty, brainless pigeon that was created for only one purpose in life!” Suddenly the pigeon glared at me, took to the air, circled around my head and promptly fulfilled the only purpose for which pigeons are created.
Fortunately, I was wearing my hat, only now I was wearing a soiled hat. The pigeon then made a soft landing on Molly’s shoulder. Molly smiled again. “I like this bird,” she grinned, “and she likes me! Let’s take her home with us! I would love to have a pet! We could…”
“Not a chance!” I interrupted. “Pigeons don’t make good pets. They don’t make good anything and it’s impossible to potty-train them!” The pigeon glared again, lifted high in the sky, then suddenly swooped down on a familiar target. My soiled hat…
My hat was a mess. I told Molly it was all her fault. She disagreed, pointing out that it was I who had belittled her little pet. “Just treat her like a human being,” she scolded, “and my little ‘Poopsie’ will like you too.”
“Poopsie?” I asked with raised eyebrows. “Poopsie?”
“That’s what I’ve decided to call my new little pet,” she grinned. “And do you know why I’ve decided to call her Poopsie?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” I snarled as I removed my soiled hat and tossed it in a nearby trash can.
“Let’s go home now, Paddy,” she said. “I think Poopsie would like something to eat.”
“Pigeons are always eating something,” I muttered. “That’s why they are so prolific at what they do best!”
I felt like an idiot as I wheeled Molly back to the car, the stupid pigeon resting on her shoulder while people kept giving me a stupid looks. I was sorely tempted to scare the bird away, but I was defenseless. My hat was in the trash can.
Weeks later, Molly had spent so much time with the bird that she had done wonders. Poopsie would spend hours sitting on her shoulder, rubbing her head affectionately against Molly’s neck while making strange guttural sounds only a stupid pigeon can make. And then, one morning at the breakfast table, Molly announced that she had been training Poopsie to become a carrier pigeon.
“A carrier pigeon?” I blurted out. “What in the world do you know about carrier pigeons?”
“I know a great deal,” she said with pride, “and I’ve decided to train Poopsie to deliver letters to our children and friends in Phoenix.”
It had to happen. A month doesn’t go by in our household without Molly coming up with yet another of her outlandish ideas! I should have booted the miserable little beast out the door weeks ago. Now, I feared, it was too late because Molly had that look in her eye.
Molly prepared quite a celebration when the time arrived for Poopsie’s departure. She had bordered the front sidewalk with strands of pink ribbon, affectionately referring to it as ‘Poopsie’s Runway’. Somehow, I managed to take an interest in her project, but only because it gave me an excuse to open a case of Mexican beer when the big moment finally arrived.
Molly tied a tiny sack of mail to the bird’s ankle, and I then placed Poopsie on the runway. Our curious Mexican neighbors crowded near the runway, wondering what these crazy Americans were up to now. We shared the beer with our friendly neighbors, then Molly leaned forward in her wheelchair, clapping her hands. “Time to deliver the mail, Poopsie!” she cried. The crowd applauded, clapping and cheering in a wild frenzy as they shouted ” Buena Suerte, Poopsie!”
It was a pitiful sight. Poopsie couldn’t get off the ground. The best she could do was race down the runway in an attempt to increase lift. Unfortunately, Poopsie was not equipped with reverse thrust and she soon ran out of runway before smacking her head on a nearby telephone pole.
But Molly was determined. She removed most of the letters, then ordered Poopsie to make another attempt. The crowd cheered again as the bird finally managed to lift off, climbing slowly, then heading in a northerly direction. “We did it!” Molly cried. “Poopsie is on her way to Phoenix!”
Two months later, Molly was still sitting in her wheelchair staring sadly out the window, waiting for a stupid, ungrateful, dirty little carrier pigeon to return. Although clouded with a sense of guilt, I found myself secretly grateful.
That afternoon I found her leafing through the phone book under the heading, ‘Pigeon Psychologists of Morelia’. I groaned aloud but she pretended not to hear. The very next morning I found myself wheeling Molly into an office with a sign on the door; ‘Dr. Byrd, R.P.P.’ (Renowned Pigeon Psychologist). The man seated behind the desk wore thick eyeglasses which rested on the tip of his nose. He was also quite bald. I felt uneasy, hoping we would be out of there soon. After introducing ourselves, I explained that Molly had trained her pigeon to deliver mail to our children and friends in Phoenix, but that we were extremely worried because we hadn’t seen Poopsie in months.
“Was it a Mexican pigeon?” asked the bald-headed man, not waiting for an answer. “That’s important,” he explained, “because Mexican pigeons don’t fly in a straight line.”
“They don’t?” asked Molly, frowning. “Are you quite, quite sure?”
“They don’t,” he replied, “and I’m quite, quite sure. Mexican pigeons, as you probably know, are very family oriented. Whenever they make a long flight, they tend to veer off course to visit family members and relatives.”
I closed my eyes. Baldy was a loonie tune. I watched him remove a faded map from his desk drawer, spread it out in full view, then draw a straight line connecting Morelia to Phoenix. “When Poopsie departed from Morelia,” he announced, “it’s conceivable he veered off course and spent a day or two taking in the sights of Guadalajara. And from there,” he continued, “there’s a good possibility Poopsie spent some time visiting past acquaintances in Tepic. And it’s only natural that Poopsie might spend a fun-filled weekend in Mazatlan. Loads of pretty pigeons on the beach this time of year.”
Molly was impressed, her eyes focused on the map. “How about Culiacan?” she asked.
“Good thinking,” smiled the man as he adjusted his thick glasses. “Hermosillo makes sense too,” he added. “A final fling in Nogales perhaps, before arriving in Phoenix one pooped little pigeon.”
Molly suddenly frowned. “Would Poopsie have any problem getting across the border?” she asked nervously.
“Not a chance,” he laughed. “The fence along the border isn’t nearly high enough to keep out Mexican pigeons, at least for now.” Suddenly he glanced at his watch, then spoke in a high-pitched voice. “Oh, dear!” he cried. “It’s way past lunchtime, and I’ve forgotten to feed my little children!” He leaped from his chair, raced across the room, flung open the window, then burst with joy as two hundred pigeons flew into his office. He emptied a box of pigeon food on the floor, succulent tidbits imported from Denmark, then spoke in a broken voice. “I’m sorry I neglected you, my dear precious babies!” he cried.
Molly and I just stared at each other, then we both whispered in unison. “Let’s get the hell out of here!” As I was pushing Molly out the door, the man was now flapping his arms and foaming at the mouth. Three pigeons rested on his bald head. In my humble opinion, there is nothing more pathetic in this world than watching pigeons perched on the bald head of a looney psychologist.
As we drove home, Molly was silent. I knew what she was thinking. Her latest idea had flown the coop, so to speak. And now I could see tears rolling down her cheek. It was then that I cursed Poopsie under my breath, vowing to buy Molly a cat, maybe a dog. Maybe even a Tolligraton, whatever that is. Anything but an ignorant, rotten, stinking low-life creature like a pigeon!
As I pulled into the driveway, Molly let out a cry, an hysterical cry of undeniable joy as she spotted Poopsie sitting near the doorway! Minutes later we were seated in the living room. Poopsie sat quietly on her shoulder as Molly anxiously read all the return mail from our children in Phoenix.
We celebrated that evening, Poopsie charmed by the soft glow of candlelight as we enjoyed our meal with a bottle of imported champagne. Later, after we had slipped into bed, I waited until Molly was sound asleep. Then I raised my voice to Poopsie, who now occupied her very own bedroom. I couldn’t help releasing the vent-up resentment I had felt during the past month.
“Hey, Poopsie!” I shouted. “Next time Molly sends you to Phoenix with more letters, don’t you dare wander off the flight path to see your stupid, dirty little friends! Learn to fly in a straight line or you will wind up in the same trash can where I buried my hat!”
Suddenly I felt better. The tension, the hatred, the bitterness was gone! But then I heard the sound of flapping wings, followed by the familiar sound of a bird taking flight. I realized in a flash what was happening and I screamed in horror. “I was just kidding, Poopsie! Can’t you take a joke? I love you! I love all Mexican pigeons, even though you brainless idiots can’t learn to fly in a straight line!”
By now the familiar sound was far too close for comfort. I tried to duck under the covers but it was too late. I didn’t even have time to get off a quick Hail Mary.
“PLOP! PLOP! PLOP…!”