Carless for the second day in a row, I had lunch today at the Mexican place near work. (Good, not great — too much sour cream.) It was especially sunny, so I was eating outside. So was everyone else. And so were the birds, who despite being dumb enough to contract avian flu are smart enough to know where people congregate and eat and leave crumbs every day. Before I could start on my second quesadilla, however, I heard a metallic clang followed by a scream.
What apparently happened was that a woman eating outside had set a chair directly onto one of the birds, very nearly cutting him in half. Dead, of course. I’d wager instantly. If I had imagined what the scenario would have been like without having already seen it, I suppose I’d imagine that the bird would be flattened. The metal chairs at Camino Real are made from slender pipes that flow into these silver dollar-sized caps at the bottom, and I would have guessed that one of those circular caps would have pressed onto the birds head, shoved it into its chest cavity and then forced the whole mass down until its little legs snapped like twigs. But no — instead, I think the bird pitched forward and the cap crushed him at an angle, almost cleaving his head from his chest. (Those flight-enabling featherlight bones did you no good today, Mr. Cheep Cheep.) The mess was less than I would have guessed, too, though something — something — had gooshed from the beak, perhaps interrupting the bird’s final death-squawk.
Everyone stopped eating. The bird-killing woman had been seated at a table in the center of the outdoor eating area, and the noise drew everybody’s attention. She looked horrified. Some kids were a little upset, too. I think I heard somebody ask “Is it dead?” — duh — before some nice old man scraped the pieces off the ground with a plastic knife onto a serving tray. He dumped the whole package — bird, tray, knife — into the trash, which I find sad since I don’t think anybody — bird, human or otherwise — deserves to be laid to rest among Starbucks cups, partially drunk smoothies and unwanted receipts. By the time I was done eating — the incident didn’t affect my appetite — the wet spot had dried and the incident seemed largely forgotten.
Still, I was amused and told anybody who would listen. What still gets me is that the timing of this had to be so specific — for some clumsy woman to slam down a chair just as a bid flitted through. Remarkable.
The bird was probably going to give us all avian flu anyway.