Birds Don’t Fly Free

“Man, look at those pigeons. It’d be nice to be free like them,” Oz sighed.

“Those birds ain’t free,” Huggie replied. “Ain’t nobody free.”

“They can fly anywhere they want. I’d call that free.”

“Oz, you’re a damn fool. Check it.” Huggy reached deep into his pockets and scattered bread crumbs on the dirt. The pigeons swarmed around him.

“So? They’re hungry.”

“I put bread crumbs to the left, Birds go left. Bread crumbs to the right, they go right. No free will.”

“That don’t prove anything, man. They don’t have to take the crumbs.”

Huggy laughed. “They always do, fool! You grow wings and fly, we’ll see how far you get. You’ll be doing the same shit, talking the same shit, only down in Mexico instead of here.”

“Doesn’t sound bad to me. People can change, you know?”

“Yeah, if the man throws bread crumbs some other place. Problem is, we only got so many breadcrumbs and they all leadin’ right. Here.” He knocked on the bench. It sounded like a hollow door.

“Breadcrumbs. I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying anymore, man.”

“I’m sayin’ that everythin’s decided for us the day we born. We live in a prison the size of the world. Ain’t no way out of it.”

“I don’t want to listen to this shit, man. Ain’t nobody tellin’ me what to do.”

“Motherfucker’s deluded,” Huggy laughed, then punched Oz in the shoulder. “Eyes up. Here he comes.” Huggy whispered. He got up out of his chair. The pigeons scattered. “Trey! What’s up, my man?”

Trey’s eyes bulged like a fish. “Wait! No!”

Huggy and Oz had been sharpening their screws the entire day before. Each one slid into Trey’s neck like they were going into a corn cob.

“Motherfucker looks like Frankenstein,” Huggy laughed.

A crowd gathered around, clouding the scene in an instant. “Oh God! Someone help!” Oz yelled to nobody in particular. “This dude’s been stabbed. Man, somebody stabbed this guy!”

All the prisoners moved in to get a better look. Some of them laughed. Others were furious, but the guards came with their rifles and trigger fingers and nobody could do a thing without getting shot first.

“Back in your cages, you fucking animals!” the warden screamed. The men filed into the prison.

“Shouldn’t we get a doctor?” a guard asked.

“Ain’t gonna do nothin’ now,” the warden spat, watching Trey’s bulging eyes and his blood mixing with the dirt. “But I’ll tell you what. You get the doctor an’ I’ll call up the coroner. We’ll see who comes out on top.”

When the yard was clear and the guards had herded the men back to their cells, the pigeons flew back to the yard to finish the leftovers.



Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction

9 responses to “Birds Don’t Fly Free

  1. Wow, so much going on here! Prison inmates discussing the philosopy of freedom and free will and then taking another man’s freedom by depriving him of his life. And then the last sentence, “the guards had herded the men back to their cells, the pigeons flew back to the yard to finish the leftovers.” Simply awesome. Really nothing I can say that would do justice to what you already have.

  2. shortnmorose

    damn. just deleted my comment so i’ll try to remember everything i had said.

    i agree with jared that this is an awesome piece. at first i was confused because the voices of the two characters were so believable and engaging i didn’t understand who trey was. wonderful twist in the story that when he said they were in a prison the size of the world, he wasn’t being metaphorical. great names too 🙂

    i didn’t understand when the warden said let’s see who comes out on top. did that mean who shows up first? maybe i’m naive, just didn’t get the language.

    loved “Each one slid into Trey’s neck like they were going into a corn cob.” great image. great storyline. well done!

  3. vicky_luu

    i love the dialogue between the characters. it’s just great back and forth and immediately drew me into the story, and then whey they stabbed trey it was such a surprise, and a great twist.

    you painted a great picture here. the reveal of the prison, the intellect of the prisoners, and we come full circle when the pigeons fly back to get the crumbs. very clever.

    the only thing i would say is to make the stabbing a little more clear…i did have to reread that section to figure out just who stabbed trey. but other than that, grreeeat.

  4. I had to reread section, “Motherfucker’s deluded…slid into Trey’s neck like they were going into a corn cob” a few times because I got lost in the narrative. A few suggestions to clear up the scene: add a transition word to signal the shift in mood, something like “Suddenly Huggy dipped his head down and whispered, ‘Eyes up, here he comes.'”; move the description about sharpening screws earlier, perhaps after “Trey, what’s up!” so that we anticipate that Trey’s eyes bulge like a fish out of fear rather than that he’s born looking funny; because screws aren’t commonly possessed weapons, change “their screws” to something like “the screws that they had stolen from the janitor’s toolbox.”; lastly, give a small hint to the reader that Oz’s shout for help is feigned.

    I liked Huggy’s voice because I felt that it was realistic of the philosophical type of convict, thoughtful yet still deeply violent. I also liked the pigeon symbolism, of having no free will. I’d have to say the dark themes of the piece effectively got to me, made me a little depressed. Now where did I put my sharpened screws…

  5. darkwasthenight

    I liked everything about the story…’cept the last sentence. Nice atmosphere. The quality of the writing deserved more. I would’ve liked a more interesting ending.

  6. ingrid

    ooohhhh man…. i dig the metaphor of the prison the side of the world, and the fact that neither the prisons nor the men in the jail cells are free. i’m not clear about how trey was stabbed and the introduction of the stabbing seemed a bit sudden to me. i do agree that the ending is kind of blah, compared to the rest of the piece, of course, but i think that it only reiterates the point that even while in jail, humans have brains and pigeons only survive on instinct, putting them in a delicate position as creatures.

  7. awesomepie

    Thanks for the comments. They were very helpful and I can see my need add some clarification to the part where the stabbing occurs. I can also see the need to clean up the last sentence a bit, make it a little better… but I feel like darkwasthenight’s comment wasn’t about the wording as much as it was about the way it ended. Did you think I should have wrapped up things with Oz and Huggy? Added another scene of dialogue or action? Personally, I liked the pigeons, but if you have any better suggestions, I’d be happy to hear it.

    ~ Seamus K.

    • OK…I’m wondering what the leftovers are…bits of Trey in the dirt? That’s alright for a titter I’d suggest. However, I think it isn’t balanced inasmuch as I feel that there was a certain need to finish (for whatever reason) and this is something one is prone to do with this genre. Sometimes the idea deserves a longer execution: you can’t do anything about this. Oz and Huggy’s relationship and dialogue is interesting and the philosphical ramblings aren’t wrapped up/continued but are just unfinished and you’ve kinda stopped it. Yes, more dialogue might be the answer as they could describe the pigeons’ return.

  8. Personally I liked that the stabbing was sudden. I’ve noticed when somebody stabs you it happens suddenly and you don’t have much time to react. I thought the way it was written here was great and flowed well.

    The last sentence was my favorite part of the piece, I would say definitely keep it.

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