He took the microfiber cloth to his glasses, rotating his thumb against the lens methodically. There was a slight smudge where his finger had brushed the lens. If he could get that smudge out, he thought, if he could clean the lens, he could clear his mind. He pressed down harder, with surgeon-like precision, determined the excretion was imperative.
The glasses fell to the table, clanging against the desk lamp.
Jon brought two heavy hands up to his face. What was the point?
His words were devoured by an acidic sourness rising within him, a sourness that numbed rather than stung. A few surviving syllables crumbled away into whispers, never quite reaching his lips.
He stared blearily at the contents of his writing desk. At the BIC pen with its chewed blue cap, the USB drive he had copped a few years ago at some college fair, at an empty picture frame he keeps telling himself he would fill in, and his trusty old notebook.
It was torn in all the right places, scrap paper sticking out of every corner, the faded ink on the front cover reading JOURNAL. A writer’s notebook wasn’t just a bundle of pages stamped with all your brightest ideas, it was the writer in book form.
He stared up at the corkboard, rejection slips pinned in a crude display, “Thanks for submitting to us Jon, but this isn’t what we’re looking for.” Letters of the same grating nature laughed mockingly from his email, “We received more submissions than we had been expecting, if you weren’t selected please try again next year.”
What was the point of it all?
A bird cooed outside. Jon wanted to hurl himself against a concrete wall, crack his useless skull, mash his brains onto the keyboard. HERE YOU GO HERE YOU FUCKIN’ GO THIS IS ALL I’VE GOT. He wanted to plunge the BIC pen between his ribs and pop his balloon lungs. He wanted to find that cooing bird and pry its beak far enough for the breakfast worms to come squiggling out.
His hands went to his face again, faster this time, fueled by shame.
A flutter of wings woke his curiosity. It was the Cooing Bird. It must be. It heard my thoughts and flew here. I don’t know why. Probably to shit on all my stuff.
It was a pigeon. Fat and grey and disgusting. It peered at Jon with an infectious eye that rested within a ring of crust, clinging to the sill with scabby claws. Jon imagined shooting the pigeon with a hunting rifle. He imagined it bursting in an explosion of green pus.
Jon stared at the pigeon. The pigeon stared back.
Two minutes passed. Four. Six.
Six whole minutes and neither made a move.
The couple upstairs were arguing about whether or not they should order a set of pots online. “Em we don’t even need pots!” “But honey they’re ON SALE!”
“You’re a messenger,” Jon spoke at last, “you are aren’t you?”
The pigeon remained motionless.
“Stop looking at me like that. If you have something to say go ahead and say it. Stop staring.”
“Help me out here. I…I don’t know what to do.”
The pigeon shit.
Jon examined the pigeon with what he felt to be a scientific eye, but if the little girl playing hopscotch on the street had happened to look up into that second story window she would have gone home that night and told her mother about the crazy writer who lived upstairs. “Cariño,” her mother would have said, “you stay away from that man, sí?”
Jon lunged at the pigeon.
Weighed down by years of city crumbs, the pigeon struggled to lift its wings. They were crutches for a four hundred pound man, takeoff was unsuccessful. Horrified to find itself encased behind the bars of Breadman’s arms, it began to shit everywhere.
With much effort, Jon hauled the flailing pigeon to his writing desk. YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME HERE, he roared in his mind, THIS IS THE LION’S DEN. With one hand still wrenching back its wings, he reached for his BIC pen. LET’S HEAR THOSE BALLOONS POP!
The couple upstairs had finally settled on buying the pots—they were, after all, ON SALE.
With a final stroke of determination, the pigeon broke free from Jon’s grasp. It knocked over the desk lamp, spilled a cup of stale coffee, and hurtled out the open window. New Yorkers, it thought, they were all crazy.
Jon sat in stunned silence.
I tried to stab a pigeon with a ballpoint pen…
He looked down at his notebook, which was covered in feathers and drying bird crap, and began to laugh. He laughed so hard he started to wheeze, tears streaming down his blotched face.
It was him in book form alright.
Upstairs, Em and her husband discovered the pot set they wanted was sold out.