Something really bizarre happened today and I’m responsible.
Background you should know: My psychologist Dad has this story from when he and a head of the state hospital mental facility took a group of patients to the Phoenix Zoo. This worker launched into his best silverback imitation. Well, the unamused gorilla looked him square in the eyes, picked up a pile of his poop, and chucked it at the guy.
I am pretty fabulous at imitating monkey, particularly chimp sounds, but this story highlights my keen bird-whistling skills.
I’m a good bird whistler, let’s just say. In this story, I am that worker, horrified and scared. But I caused a different kind of poop-storm.
Just before dusk, my son and I took our doxxies for their evening walk. We walked past the temple, past juniper trees, and azalea. Two large crows sat expectantly just above us on telephone lines. Tokyo is still largely “wires and lines above ground”, and it can feel a bit unsightly, but generally becomes landscape, just like our many train lines.
The crows here are quite gargantuan, more like thick ravens, their beaks gawky and toucan-ish, as if they tied it on with strings. Thick beaky toucans, shiny in black. They are first responders to trash bags, raiding and looting on garbage days. I used to feel quite paranoid walking home with grocery bags, sensing their aggressive tendencies. Hitchcock doesn’t help, either.
However, in the name of trust and respecting a creature of beauty and inky thick wings, we stop to admire the raven-crow-hybrid-terradactyls. I bellow, “CAAAAAAW! CAAAAAAAW!” The crow nearest us ruffls its feathers and hops tentatively. An unseen crackle of energy, like knuckles cracking. Something has shifted.
My son and I quickly offer up a “hello” each, and moved forward. Supplication, like when robbers try saying, “Good boy, good dog” at a riled-up Doberman. They won’t attack him, will they?
I have no trust in wild beasts. It is like assuming the gator on the opposite bank will not swim out to eat your cat. Just what might two weird birds do to my dogs? I push my boy in his red tricycle, and tug the dogs’ lead. Let’s get out of here. My “CAAAAW” stirred something. It did. They both seemed instantly agitated. Tddduhhh tduhhh tduhh. Their legs hop toward us, birdy-knees straight, unbending.
We are not more than twelve steps when a woman (in her late twenties, I’d say), is attacked. ATTACKED. The same crows take turns crashing near her. At her. Contact. She screams and flees to a teeny alley. My boy and I stand still, barely breathing. There is no breath, just our lips parted, eyes round in worry!
We wait for her to emerge, hope her eyes are alright, that she is okay, walking out on the other side!
My gore-side envisions irreparable damage on the nightly news, first-priority on Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, NHK, like Japan’s PBS, that I neither subscribe to or would understand. I hunt for any crow-related news from our area later on Google.
We barely pivot when a man on his bicycle peels up, all of us on this narrow main street of a small neighborhood, two blocks from a Buddhist temple. Life is quiet. Life is pecking. He heads to the main road, approaching the hill that spills perpendicular to the street.
He is flanked by two midnight beasts. One crashes to his back. He wildly looks around in alarm, exactly when the other bird tag-teams him. A jettison of black, a beak, and the bird has tipped the man’s hat, from back to front. Like if you slapped your brother upside the head, hard. For zero reason. That kind of humor and mean streak. The man is quickly approaching the perpendicular traffic, hat off, arms splashing, bike in terror.
Two perfect curses leave my lips. My arms have loosened; I may not even be holding the dogs’ double lead. My boy gapes similarly atop his trike. What have we done. It was my “CAAAAAW”.
I turn us opposite. We walk away from crows. We walk and keep going. There is a young office lady clattering down our street in black pumps. She adjusts lip gloss, pushing soft black waves from her eyes. She is coiffing even in 5:48 pm summer heat. She will pass us and enter crow-territory. I don’t know what to say, between my lack of sturdy Japanese, and the absurdity of what I would say. “Don’t go that way. The crows are scary.” My boy and I exchange a look and move our dogs deeper into the neighborhood, lips sealed against any desire for bird-call.