The sky is clear, and I can easily discern the honking of the Branta candensis above the roar of the traffic racing along the bridge above the river. The tell-tale feces of the candensis are all over the pavement. I am sneaking into the brush alongside the river as a man gets into his truck and spots me. “Those geese are real pests,” he says. I give him a look, this short smile I use. He goes away. I think, he knows nothing of the candensis, nothing. Beside me a discarded shoe on the grass.
In France, some people demonstrated against land mines by making a giant pile of single shoes. That guy doesn’t know anything about geese. What did people do with the other shoe? I resume my task. I toss the cinnamon raisin bagel chunks into the water. I wish I had a birdcall. If I had a birdcall I could entice the candensis to my location and the cinnamon raisin bagel treats I have for them. Just then two Branta candensis land in front of me. Goosie, goosie, goosie! Goosie, goosie, goosie!
No birds in the area today. I fill the water with a banana nut muffin. It has just rained, by the river that passes by Business Complex No. 2. A heavy wind blows the current down and away from where I stand. I work in Business Complex No. 2. As I am about to leave, I notice a small white object bobbing along, making its way toward me and my pieces of tender banana nut muffin that float all about in the water. It is a Larus argentatus. But it is making no attempt to get to the food. In Business Complex No. 2, I am known generally as a Formatter. What the hell is the matter with this stupid bird?
Somehow the gull manages to get into the inlet and scoop up the muffin. I prefer banana nut muffins to all the other muffins. I toss some more pieces into the air. Maybe it will jump up, like a dog trying to catch a Frisbee, like those Labradors you see in the park. The gull watches the muffin drop into the water and then delicately takes it into its beak. The old bird has a broken wing. The old bird puts me in mind of an old, lonely monk, the way it has serenely given itself over to its lot in life. I once wanted to be an old, lonely monk, live in a monastery, the whole bit, but I tend to need a lot of privacy when I use the restroom.
Someone from the office wanted to have lunch with me, but I politely declined, feigning illness. I made it appear to her that I needed to spend my lunch break in the restroom, but instead I snuck out with a bag of Matzah brought from home. A few geese are keeping their distance. In the distance I see the head of what appears to be some kind of sea monster. Perhaps it is kraken? I toss Matzah over to the kraken, and it dives under, only to reappear moments later.
It is in fact only Phalocorax auitus. I like the Phalocorax, sure, but I am disappointed it is not a kraken. Someone from the office wanted to have lunch with me. I am partial to kraken when you get right down to it. The marvelous long thin head is regal when contrasted to the filth and debris floating beside it. Furiously the Phalocorax does beat its wings and, with nary a sound, take flight. It glides scant inches above the surface of the water. I call out to it, using the voice of its mythic song. I am a Greek warrior who has smitten the kraken, forcing it to flee. I am glad I have some Matzah left for a snack later.
My supervisor has watched me all week from her window as I cross the parking lot. No matter, I only waited until no one was around. If she asks me if I have the “document” I’ll know she knows. The sky has finally cleared, I am less anxious, and the blueberry muffin is quite fresh. Sometimes that is the most important thing, having a fresh muffin. Up ahead there’s a big ruckus in the trees. A Quiscalus major is flying from tree to tree. The other birds, and there are other birds, flee as if the Quiscalus major is a nasty landlord kicking everyone out. I do what I can. I immediately run over to the area and commence to throw pieces of muffin into the water. Maybe the Quiscalus will stop bothering the other birds in exchange for a bite to eat. It has come to my attention that I’m being observed. The Quiscalus is not interested, or maybe doesn’t like muffin.
A large number of geese and ducks congregate around me, feeding and swimming gently in the water. When a goose gets too close I move down the bank and toss a muffin chunk right next to him. The goose hisses at me. It is more hiss than honk, really. It keeps hissing and approaches. Get out of here. Get away! I toss the whole rest of the muffin into the water and run up the hill. I hate these birds. I don’t stop running until I reach Business Complex No. 2. Later I buy another muffin for the fifteen-minute break. A muffin with soda is the best.
Someone else is feeding the birds. Behind me Business Complex No. 2 looms, looming more than usual. I confess to feeling some quantity of anxiety. I have half a cinnamon raisin bagel and a stale piece of foccacia. But I can’t stand next to this stranger and feed the birds. Am I to pretend nothing is wrong? I am loaded with treats. What’s he got anyway? I might just eat the bagel half all by myself. Just then, over by another little rocky inlet, over to my right, I see the head of the Anas platyrhynchos, with the tell-tale ring around its neck. I walk-run over to the other little rocky inlet area and then dart down into the inlet only to witness the platyrhynchos swim to the other side, where the guy with the crappy treats is.
I toss bagel piece after bagel piece into the water, hoping to win its favor. I am late. I am too late. This is the feeling of agitation now. I run up the hill. The mud slips under my heal. I still have foccacia. “Mr. Mallard!” I call out. “Come here!” I make quacking sounds of the sort I’ve heard them make, the happy quacking not the mean sort. The guy with all the birds to himself is watching me. No matter, I start singing a little song to myself, which I actually begin to enjoy.