Last week I received a distressing e-mail. 5 Dead Birds at the corner of Wilson and Sheridan.
There they were on the sidewalk, bloodied and battered. Since the e-mail had gone out to several people there was a thread starting, assumptions on what caused the casualties. There is a 10-story building there, perhaps they ran into the building or the building’s windows. Perhaps the street lights confused them. It had been a windy weekend, so maybe wind patterns had something to do with the melee. While a friend was down at the corner checking the scene out another bird fell down, almost hitting him. The photos are shocking.
So many deaths have taken place at that same corner.
Two years ago 5 people were shot there. All black males in their early 20s, late teens. They were sitting on the steps of the uptown Baptist Church when a car driving by opened up on them. One was shot fatally in the head.
The birds were identified as yellow-billed cuckoos, though at times woodcocks have been sited and a lone spotted sandpiper. The death toll continued to rise.
My friend Hilde was walking to the bank and had just gotten to the corner of Wilson and Sheridan when shots rang out. Instinctively she ducked. I wonder about this word: instinct, as if it occurred all the time and she routinely dropped to the ground for safety. More than anything it was an evolutionary gene programmed to take cover in the face of grave danger. Even in the midst of fear she reached out for a souvenir: a bullet that had ricocheted off the wall of the building and landed near to her. It was still hot.
Death by flying too high, flying in the darkness, flying without thinking, without caution, without forethought. Flying for living in the moment. Because because; because you feel like it.
The same day we discovered the bird carcasses, that same evening there was another shooting. This time a bit north of blood corner, a territory fought over by rival gangs. This time a young rapper was the target. Young Pappy. He had already survived 2 other attempts on his life and this time, at blood corner, his luck ran out.
Someone needs to post a sign: Beware: unsafe for birds, black men, all creatures who draw breath and aren’t afraid of flying.