6 Mar



The phone rings and I’ve a horrible sticky feeling that the person on the end of the line is someone I don’t want to talk to. I’ve been checking caller ids all morning and luckily her number hasn’t shown up – at least it hadn’t until now. I know she’s been hovering out there somewhere in unhappy-with-the-quality-of- your-services-land; it was only to be expected – a matter of time. 

Don’t get many whiners, but when I do they’re usually pretty obnoxious. You get a sixth sense for those kinds of people – the difficult to please- the never happy with anything brigade. I’ve learned to accept it, to bow and scrape and tug my forelock.

 “Yes Ma’am – no Ma’am, three bags full Ma’am” smiling politely as they begrudgingly hand you the check. 

I can’t complain too much. People pay through the nose for window cleaning and pigeon removal, so naturally as a practitioner an advocate of free-market enterprise I’m prepared to go the extra mile to insure satisfied customers and a positive source of income. 

Cleaning windows and culling pigeons is all based upon word of mouth. You can spend a king’s ransom on advertizing, but all it takes to ruin a good- thing is for whisper and rumor to take hold and spread their unretractable message. Before you’ve had time to bid your excuses you’re suddenly the ex-window cleaner. 

I know I’ve had it happen. 

Whole streets that’ve adopted my services on the say-so of some seemingly nondescript little old lady who, unbeknownst to me, wielded more power than Zeus. There is of course a reverse side to that same coin and I have occasionally lost work because a coffin dodger was unhappy with something close to nothing. Houses where doors have been slammed in my face, young children ushered inside before my arrival, streets that have turned into ghost towns – where the whistle of the wind and the tumble of weed has been my only welcome. 

Luckily that doesn’t happen too often, a classic case of you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Normally I am greeted with happy smiles and retire with “thank-you-so- muches,” and, “I’ll be sure to tell all my friends.” 

The phone is still ringing and I know exactly who it is. A lady on the far west side of town whose pigeon problem I was supposed to correct A customer who’d so much bird shit on her roof it looked like she’d committed to the green revolution and turned it over to organic farming. I knew as soon as I pulled up and the sky darkened with flights of scattering pigeons that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Armed with utter stupidity a few plastic anti-pigeon spikes, plus the knowledge that I’d pushed the envelope too far I pressed her bell. 

A moment of stupidity comparable to when the kids get a box of chocolates for some random Hallmark holiday;  sneaking one every now and then – enjoying the theft as much as the taste of cheap chocolate. Knowing that one can evade detection so long as the multitude of other chocolates hides one’s crime. As the chocolates in the box diminish it becomes utter folly to continue to steal – unable to resist temptation I can’t help but put the last one into my mouth. Try explaining that to an irate twelve year old in need of a sugar fix. The cock is still to crow and my desperate denials aren’t even close to passing the litmus test of truth. Of course the fact that my teeth are covered in chocolate and my hands smell of caramel isn’t helping my case. 

(That kind of envelop-pushing idiocy!) 

The door finally opens and the pigeon breeder stands before me. Fifty questions about what I am going to do and how I’m going to do it. What will I be using, is it humane? 

“Don’t want to hurt the fluffy little things do we now? Let’s just gently shoe them away.” 

Despite the avalanche of questions my mind is focused on the last chocolate or rather the amount of cash I am going to demand. She tells me that her neighbors have similar issues and suddenly my penny slot machine is spitting quarters. 

Here we go baby, we just hit the big time

Dollar slapped and delirious I climb the ladder to confront my nemesis. Pigeon shit as far as the eye can see – nests and eggs everywhere, birds strutting around like they own the bloody place. There’s only one thing for it. I’ve got to call in the big guns. I open the nozzle on my hosepipe and adjust for full blast. Like Nazi machine gunners mowing down Polish partisans, I go to town. Shit flies everywhere but that’s the least of my worries. She wants it off the roof, she didn’t say anything about covering her drive way or filing her garden with premium grade guano! 

Pigeon’s stupidly pop their heads from under tiles and I send them flying as I catch them in mid peek – bouncing down the roof to splat on the concrete below. As always I’m achieving a certain amount of sadistic satisfaction – my lips curl high in a manic grin, my eyes narrowing as I hone my aim. I lap the roof in victory, waving my fist in the general direction of pigeon-dom. 

“Run you bastards, run; or incur the wrath of man.” 

My diabolical cackle echoes off the walls of houses in the cul-de-sac. They know when they’re beat. A squadron of bird takes flight from a neighbor’s house. I watch them fly off in mournful retreat, their newly and yet to be born offspring splattered on the killing fields of the drive way below. 

I feel no remorse, I have no sorrow; my hose does not sleep idle in my hand. My body rushes with the pulse of adrenalin, the euphoria of battle springing wild in my eyes as each pressurized blast of water eradicates a fresh victim. 

Murder and mayhem complete I go to work; netting and wiring, spiking and drilling – installing my Maginot line of demarcation. I’ve considered putting up small signs warning the pigeons to KEEP OFF. A kind of business card to inform my feathered friends exactly who they are messing with as well as a sad attempt at gallows humor. 

(Pigeon eradicators jokes- you just have to love them!) 

I return to earth, sliding down my ladder like an FDNY hero and step back to peruse the perfection that is pigeon depopulation. The down side is that there is shit everywhere the upside that there is none on the roof. Distraught pigeons sit on neighbor’s houses mourning their loss. I knock on the door and collect my prize. Like Beowulf with Grendel’s remains I offer my trophy up in expectation of high reward. The necessary cash is forked over and I climb back into the truck. 

As I pull away I glance in my mirror and watch as the last of the brave souls swoop down to survey what was once home, nursery and communal toilet. I suddenly have a bad feeling. 

Pigeons are tenacious little bastards and if they want turf badly enough they’ll take it. Entering through the smallest hole imaginable in the most secure of defenses – a constant battle between them and the expertise of a professional hit man like myself. A reverse Colditz mentality of breaking in rather than breaking out! 

The phone rings again and I continue to ignore it. Suddenly it stops and the only thing I can hear is my little girl talking. Fractured sentences as I cower under the computer table – “My Dad – pigeons?  -Yes he’s here- hold on for a second!” 

The pitter patter of tiny feet accompanied by the darkest of shadows cast over me by a five foot nothing dwarf. I look up from my bolt hole at the gargantuan figure towering above me. In one hand she has a telephone, in the other – an empty box of chocolates. 

I know her revenge tastes oh so much sweeter than my last stolen chocolate nut cluster. 

“It’s for you dad. The lady says her pigeons are back.”


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