Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Trail of Feathers

Several few years ago, my sister called me into the kitchen, crying, because there was a dying pigeon in the backyard. Neither she nor my mom had the stomach to put it out of its misery, so they asked me to the job. My sister laughs at me because of my apparent over-readiness to kill the animal. She says I said “Where is the pigeon?” then went outside, like I was taking the garbage out, not preparing to kill a defenseless animal. I was proud to have a stomach strong enough to carry out the unpleasant chore. I felt like a twisted superhero, taking care of the dirty business for the swooning, oversensitive women. But in truth, I was dreading the mercy killing. I was hoping that by the time I got out there, the pigeon would already be dead.

I went to the side of the house where my dad keeps his tools. I examined his variety of sledgehammers to try to find the heaviest, bluntest one I could find. I was going to finish this pathetic animal off with a single blow to ensure the slightest amount of suffering possible. I picked up my weapon of choice using both of my hands, spread them apart and lifted the sledgehammer into the air before forcing it into the ground. I knew that sledgehammer would do the trick.

I walked past the side of the house towards the pool, where my sister had told me I’d find the near-dead animal. Sledgehammer propped on my shoulder, I half-triumphantly climbed into the trench between the garden and the pool and followed the trail of feathers to a quivering pigeon that was missing the back of its head. I climbed up into the garden and decided that it would be most humane to slam the sledgehammer into his head, rather than another part of his body. I tried to stand tall, but my legs were quivering so badly by this point that I couldn’t. I aimed the sledgehammer for the head, lifted it into the air and closed my eyes. As I lowered the sledgehammer, I hoped that I would pound where I’d aimed and wondered if I would do a lot of damage to the body. I opened my eyes. The pigeon was not damaged further and still quivering, it’s right eye wide open. Damn. I aimed again, lifted into the air. Bam. I opened my eyes. No more quivering, eye still open.

I am proud that I was able to put my emotions aside and put the pigeon out of its misery. It had to be done. I just wish I was able to express my fears about the killing to my mom and sister, who seem to think that it was easy for me to ram a sledgehammer into the pigeon. I should have told them that my heart was pounding out of my chest and I couldn’t hit the pigeon hard enough the first time because my sweaty hands were sliding along the handle of the sledgehammer. But I put the sledgehammer back in storage, went inside to my devastated sister and mom and said “It’s done,” before going upstairs. I didn't let them see me rub my sweaty palms against my pants.


  1. Being cruel to be kind takes guts! Well done.

  2. Thanks Jinksy. It certainly does. I couldn't leave him there to die slowly and perhaps painfully.