Another Life

Date
Place Kalihi
Text Donald Carreira Ching
Art Petra Voegtle

He never told me about his other children. The ones he abandoned to the skies. Racing Homers with piss-poor pedigrees. Dillingham rooftops blanketed in feathers and feed.

Back when he didn’t give anything about homecoming dances. No bowties and penguin suits, monkey tuxes. What’s a boutonniere for anyway? If it ever came down to it, his dad kept a clip on for fancy occasions. Midnight masses. The Union Christmas party. Even had a pair of genuine leather boots lathered in polish and scuff.

He wore those pigeons. The stink of them, splatter stained mosaics. Their molted wings flaking off his scalp and clinging to the sweat in the folds of his neck. Perched on his fifteen-year old frame, looking out over those Kalihi streets, he was something other than his age.

He never said much about them. All the time he spent. The conversations they had had. He was pretty good at it, that was the most he ever said. But they were better.

First time he let them go was outside the saimin house, Number two special, teri beef sticks, extra sauce. To go. A brown paper bag smuggled close to his chest. He climbed four flights and dropped it at the sight of his birds returning. He slept until the streetlights buzzed evening that day. It wasn’t the last time he would wake up with newspaper print across his cheeks.

It was the waiting that killed him. Every time they raced. The seconds between. The last day of one summer, he waited. Minutes. Hours. Days. He climbed the stairs every day, and then only on Sundays. Then every other week.

By the time he remembered them again, it had been three months. He’d be graduating soon. Aunty Patty wasn’t going to be able to take him to work the next afternoon after school. He heard Lei had been passing notes about him. Asking about the dance. No time for pretty good. No time to sit around rooftops talking to pigeons. His secrets would have to be kept to himself. A fluttering. Just a bird.

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