Floyd is the kind of guy that likes to talk to himself. Walking down the streets of North Philly, he will often find that he has been thinking out loud. One day, while walking his normal route, he finds something displeasing to him. Four tiny chickadees with brown plumage hopping about on the sidewalk delighting in a new found meal.
“Why in God’s name would you be eating Swedish fish!”
” — ” It’s apparent that chickadees don’t speak English. Either that or it would be too much trouble to respond.
“Well, you should consider packing up and moving to a better area. Yes, if you have the resources I would suggest that you all relocate. No sense in sticking it out here. This town’s gone bust and gelatinous fish-shaped candy can’t be good for the digestive system of small birds.”
Leaving the birds to their sugary feast, Floyd continues on with his day.
By the time Floyd is returning home the Swedish fish have disappeared. The birds however are still present, albeit in a plumper form than they were previously. They seem too be quite content basking in the sun, chirping, and one is even ruffling himself in the pebbles on the side of the street.
“No, no, no. This is all wrong! You do realize you are living in the midst of a polluted, disgusting city? Haven’t you ever seen one single Disney movie in your entire little lives? Cute little birds are meant to inhabit deep, lush forests and only chirp in the branches of green trees. I do believe you are all delusional. I hope that you haven’t picked up any bad drug habits — those damn squirrels are always peddling their dope. In any case, get educated! Pick up a book and see for yourselves. I bet you won’t find any pictures of chickadees hanging around on street corners. And you there! Yeah, the one bathing in the gravel. I saw someone heave up vomit and liquor in that very spot not more than a week and a half ago, so don’t look so smug.”
Disappointed in the chickadees, the city, and just about everything else, Floyd returns home where he ponders the chickadees’ situation.
“If only these birds knew what they are missing! All that fresh air, green fields, and tasty little bugs to eat — All they know is smoggy city air, the noise of traffic, shouting people, food that falls out of the hands of passers-by, and me. They do know me by now. That settles it. I can’t help all of them but maybe if I could just let one of those poor little chickadees understand that the way they are living is not the way it was meant to be. Hey, maybe if I succeed that one will tell all the others and I will have helped more than I think I can.”
That night Floyd set off to his task with great determination. It was decided, through careful deliberation with himself, that one lucky chickadee would have to be captured and transported to some far-off wooded region to live the life of a true chickadee. That was the only way. A cage was carefully crafted. That is if you consider an old Easter basket with a pot cover for a lid either a “cage” or “carefully crafted”. Floyd went to sleep that night with thoughts of creating a better world filling his head.
First thing in the morning Floyd was up and out of bed, ready to start his mission. On his way over to the spot where the chickadees usually hang out he did get a few odd stares from people wondering what a grown man was doing with a pink and bright blue Easter egg basket with a pot lid duct-taped to it, but Floyd shrugged them off.
“Not everyone has the sense of duty and sacrifice I do. Yep, it takes a special kind of man…a special kind of man.”
The chickadees were in there usual location. A pizza crust was being greedily picked at. Some sat on the sidelines and watched the rest fight amongst themselves and hoped there would be enough once everything cooled down. The bolder ones dodged and dived in and out, avoiding the other chickadees while aiming for just one peck at the crust to tear off a piece. Floyd was disgusted and even more determined to spare at least one of these wretched creatures from their life of dreariness.
“Who wants to see how the real birds live, huh?”
” — chirp — “
“OK, I don’t know what that means but I’ll take it as a positive sign. Climb in the basket.”
The chickadees completely ignored Floyd, who was crouched down waving the basket back and forth. Floyd thought maybe he didn’t make his intentions clear enough.
“I’m here to help you guys. I’m only going to be doing you a favor by taking you into the woods where other chickadees live. You’ll realize that you should have moved out of the city long ago. It’s unnatural for birds to live the way you guys do. Go ahead and get in the basket. One short drive and we’ll be at your new home and you’ll thank me — “
Meanwhile, a small group of kids had caught sight of Floyd talking to birds who seemed to not even notice him. Laughing, one of the kids took out a camera and snapped a shot.
“Get outta here, you damn punks! Can’t you see I’m tryin’ to right a few wrongs! Get to school!”
Luckily, the birds were not disturbed. They were used to hearing shouting people all day long. Floyd continued his coaxing but to no avail. He had brought some bird seed so he threw it into the Easter basket and sat it down next to the birds who had by now finished off the pizza crust. Not a single chickadee so much as attempted to eat the seed.
“Clearly, a worse case than I thought. These birds are completely backwards. I suppose I’ll play their game — for now.”
Floyd, being the clever man he was, had that it might be useful to also bring some Swedish fish along. He congratulated himself for having such foresight.
“OK guys, is this what you want? Personally, I don’t see any reason to enjoy these things. They’ll rot out your tee — regardless, they’re bad for you.”
Several minutes later Floyd had caught one of the chickadees. The birds were not as mistrustful of humans as their country counterparts and this allowed Floyd to get the basket close enough that one hopped in and he had closed the pot cover over the make-shift cage as quickly as he could. Now that he had succeeded in capturing one of the chickadees Floyd carried the Easter basket back to his car and began a drive that lasted an hour and a half. He was far away from the city and into a much more rural setting when he finally stopped driving.
“Go! You’re free! Free as a — chickadee!”
The bird remained in the open basket, cautious of his new surroundings.
“There’s the forest! Go ahead. Live your life. Frolic with the whole of nature!”
The confused chickadee made three hops in the general direction of the woods.
“That’s it. Keep going. No more traffic, no more smog, no more eating discarded food. Make yourself a new life in the place where you should have been all along.”
It was clear the bird was going to need a little time to adjust. Floyd scooped him back up in the Easter basket and carried him into the woods. Floyd placed the chickadee on a tree branch, said some kind words, wished him luck, and then made his way home.
Even with all the encouragement that Floyd had given it the chickadee was still less than enthused about his relocation. It was late afternoon by now and he was already feeling pangs of hunger. But where to find Swedish fish in this place? The bird flew down out of the tree that he had been sitting in motionlessly for the past several hours and began his search. He wasn’t alone in these woods. There were other creatures in all directions, but the ones that caught his attention most were the other small chickadees. He watched as they pecked about in the grass for food and found tiny insects to sate their hunger. He didn’t know how to do that. The other chickadees had noticed the newcomer as well. They flew away when he approached them. Now, alone, the chickadee remembered how it used to be back home. There was never any lack of food there and he had never felt as hungry as he did now. Back in the city he ate throughout the day. There was never this silence either. Constantly, there was the noise of traffic and of people busily walking by. Now he felt anxious hearing nothing but the occasional rustling of some small creature through the grass.
It didn’t take long for Mother Nature to take her course. In the end, Nature wasn’t as kind as Floyd thought she would be to the chickadee. While the other chickadees in the city lived on, the one brought back to nature laid cold among all the beautiful sights and sounds of the forest, the green of the leaves, the fresh scent in the air, and the gentle breeze.