Fairytale of New York

Chapter Nine: If You are Good at Counting

A/N: I am the not dead. I swear. Just busy. Graduating. From college.

If were to ask your average New Yorker how many pigeons there were in New York City, they might give you a strange look, or laugh, or perhaps even try to guess for you. None of them will know.

None of them will know how many grey slate, dull rainbow-brushed pigeons there are dozing around Columbus Circle, or stalking crumbs at curbs, or noisily fluttering from sill to sill: none of them will know. Only tourists notice the pigeons anymore.

None of them will be able to tell you how many crows lurk in Central Park, how many starlings roost atop lampposts, how many darting sparrows perch on outdoor café walks, how many seagulls haunt the riverside with their hungry cries.

If you want to know, you have to ask someone else.

"They will have gotten there by now, right?" asked Broadway.

"And how do you expect me to know?" demanded Hudson. He longed for his armchair and for the hokey match he was missing, fleetingly, before he again steeled himself to the discomfort of the nook under the bridge, and the noise of metal beating metal, announcing the inevitable arrival of another train overhead. "I've certainly never been outside the city, I don't know what more of this strange land there is. They could be halfway to Scotland now, for all I could tell you."

"Marjorie said it wasn't that far though," Broadway said. "I still don't get why Goliath got to go with them and not one of us."

"Goliath is leader," Hudson said immediately. "It was his decision to make."

"I know," Broadway said, sullenly.

Hudson sighed. He tired of explaining this. "No matter how many times you bemoan it, lad, what's done is done. There's no way Elisa and the lass could have hid more than one of us, and since it wasn't going to be me, and Brooklyn has his injury to recover with, and neither you nor Lexington is much a match for Demona alone, it was left to him."

"But do you think Demona will follow them?" Broadway gazed at Hudson with wide eyes. "Leave the city?"

Hudson gave a small grunt. "Demona seems more used to this new world than any of us. And she's made no vow to protect anything."

Broadway kept his eyes on his mentor for a moment longer, then returned his attention to the building they were keeping watch over. The windows on the corner of the sixth floor were dark, one tapped up with cardboard and a plank of wood.

"But why would she come back?" Broadway asked after some moments. "She's got to realize we wouldn't let Marjorie stay here after what happened."

Hudson shook his head. "No telling for sure," he said. "And I'll be taking no more risks. Too much at stake for that."

Broadway took that in silence, and said no more.

Brooklyn glowered down at the streets below the clock tower, so resembling their stone counterparts that Lexington found it hard not to comment. Instead he kept his eyes peeled on the skyline, resolutely keeping vigilance for danger he was sure would not come.

"We should be out there too," Brooklyn said, not for the first time. Lexington wondered how many times the conversation would repeat itself.

"You're hurt, and we don't need four of us staking out Marjorie's place. Demona's not going to show her face there anyway."

Brooklyn's eyes flashed—literally—at the mention of her name. "Kinda wish she would," he muttered darkly. "I'd like to know where she is rather than letting it go as a mystery, unlike everyone else around here."

Lexington hopped up on the wall beside his brother and glared at him. "Which do you care about more: revenge, or keeping Marjorie safe?"

"I don't see the two as mutually exclusive," Brooklyn answered, his voice one long, sharp edge.

"Alright," Lexington scoffed. "Stop working yourself up. One more sunrise and your shoulder will be healed up, and Hudson will let you out patrolling."

"I'm not a hatchling, and it's fine now," Brooklyn shot back, stiffly raising his right arm up and down. "It's just a little sore. I can still glide with—uh!" Brooklyn stopped raising his arm and pulled it in, looking annoyed. "Well, I can glide with it if I don't do that," he amended, defiantly meeting Lexington's skeptic look.

"Oh yeah? Why don't we put that to the test?" Lexington stood up and let his wings flare in the gust of upwards air.

"Leave? When Hudson put us on guard duty?" Brooklyn looked suddenly doubtful. "I…don't know about that. Who'll guard the tower?"

"Who's not a hatchling?" Lexington taunted. "Besides, there's always Bronx. We'll just stretch our wings for a few minutes. Elisa's gone, Marjorie's gone, and Goliath won't know. You in?"

As if knowing he was being discussed, Bronx perked his ears up and stood from where he'd been watching them by the top of the stairs. As he reached Brooklyn he gave a petulant whine, and Brooklyn patted his head consolingly. He never really needed all that much convincing to go out adventuring.

"Don't worry Bronx," he said. "We'll be right back. Be good and guard the tower, will you?"

Bronx watched them leave, and he continued to stare after them long after they'd disappeared among the night as blurs, then as shadows, and then as nothing at all. And then he lay down, grumbling in his own way about the disappointing turn the evening had taken.

But only a moment had passed before he was on his feet again; a lone pigeon had dared to land upon the balcony edge, bobbing its head as it waddled its way along like it was set to some invisible metronome. Bronx waited until it drew nearer to him, not moving, and then he let loose his growl, and stalked towards it. Guarding meant guarding.

The pigeon gave him a remarkably unimpressed look, cooed coolly, and then flapped further off down the balcony.

Bronx gradually grew his growl to full-throated bark and trotted after it, filled with irritation and excitement that he was being ignored, and there was still something to do. The pigeon took off in a burst of resentment as Bronx closed in, and disappeared from view. Satisfied, Bronx huffed, glanced to see if there might be any other offending trespassers, and finally returned to his spot, to await those who were not unwelcome to return.

Interestingly, if you managed to track down someone who could tell you how many pigeons, how many crows, how many sparrows and robins and wings and claws and beaks and feathers, you might not think to ask how many owls live in the city that never sleeps.

But perhaps you do think. Naturally, the number would be bigger than you imagine. Wildlife has little choice these days but to live inside the cracks, but for the sake of the argument let's say you are somewhat more specific in your question.

Perhaps you don't ask how many in general there are. Perhaps you eliminate all the raptors and nightbirds that reside in the borough's zoos and scientific research labs, and perhaps you don't count those confused hunters who stray into the city but reside elsewhere, like so many thrill-seekers out on the town for a night. Perhaps you ask: how many free owls belong to the city?

Funnily enough, there are actually two people who could answer this for you: one would simply say that it's really none of your business, and you would listen, and agree.

I would simply tell you the answer.

Lexington sailed on the wind, glad to be free of the tower for a few moments more. He'd kept a watchful eye on Brooklyn in case he'd been exaggerating before, but there was no cause to worry. Brooklyn was being careful, but Lexington supposed there was no reason to overdo it. He caught Brooklyn's eye and pointed to the top of high-rise just to the left of their path, and together they descended.

"Everything fine?" Lexington asked. Brooklyn nodded, massaging his right shoulder. Lexington was glad to see he seemed calmer.

"There's just one thing, though," Brooklyn said with a frown. He opened his mouth, but then a low plane screeched overhead like a giant bird, drawing both of their eyes. "Eh, never mind. Probably nothing," Brooklyn muttered when it had passed from overhead.

Lexington, wearily expecting another diatribe on Demona, was taken aback. "What is it?" he asked.

Brooklyn frowned slightly, then shrugged. "I was just thinking," he began, "about what Demona was doing at Marjorie's apartment that night."

Lexington stared at him. "Trying to kill her," he said slowly. "Remember?"

"But that wasn't the first night she tried it," Brooklyn said. "She had to have gone the night before last, the night Marjorie spent over with us at Elisa's. She threw a fit and wrecked the place, didn't she? So why try again the second night?"

It began to dawn on Lexington at where Brooklyn was getting at. "She came back knowing there was a chance Marjorie would see the mess the next day and not stay the night there," he said. He shot a curious look at Brooklyn. "What do you think about it?"

Brooklyn shrugged more widely this time, wincing as he pushed his injury a bit too far. "Can't really say what goes through the mind of a psychopath, but still…when Demona had her cornered…why not just get it done with?"

Lexington did not like to think about the possibility of what Brooklyn was suggesting, and shifted uncomfortably. "I dunno…she's evil? She likes seeing her victims scared before she finishes them. Why does it matter?"

Brooklyn stared right into Lexington's eyes. "So it didn't seem like Marjorie was holding back anything to you?"

"No," Lexington answered immediately. Then he said, "Well…maybe…" At last he shook his head, looking annoyed. "She was probably just scared. We barely got there in time."

Brooklyn nodded, but he didn't look that convinced. He turned back towards the skyline surrounding them. "Well, I still think it's time we found out what Demona was up to that first night in the park. She might still be trying to is that an owl over there?"

"What? Where?" But Lexington needn't have asked, for the gleaming white flash of wings drew his eyes immediately. The owl was soaring and cutting through the air just beyond the satellite towers on the building in front of them, heading southward towards the park.

Both Brooklyn and Lexington turned and stared at each other when the owl was out of sight. Brooklyn said "We've got to go after it!" at approximately the same time Lexington said "You can't seriously think we should go after it."

"It could lead us to Demona!" Brooklyn insisted.

"How? It's a bird!"

Brooklyn was up on the ledge and halfway off before Lexington could move. "It's a bird with a link to Demona, and it's the only one we've got!"

"Brooklyn, wait!" called Lexington, but Brooklyn was already catching an updraft to sail past the buildings before them, to make his way to the park. Lexington set off immediately after, cursing his luck and his poor judgment. Hudson wouldn't have liked the idea of the two of them going off and leaving the tower unprotected for five minutes—how was he going to explain they'd been out all night chasing a bird?

The funny thing about pigeons: they're not the sort of bird to be admired, and on the most part they are not considered to be very smart, or clean, or appealing in any applicable sense of the word. Yet they are the only birds to own a city.

Because the people rushing down the streets day and night, the people flying in on their big metal birds to gape at the glowing neon and the proud Lady and the gleaming towers lit up in the sun, all the people ignoring everyone else in the Park, in their banks and shops and restaurants, all the people flying though the air under the ground in their thick metal worms as they pretend they live and know this place—they don't.

Do you know what a person's mind is?

People's minds are vast and peculiar and rich with sensations and experiences and colors and tastes and memories, but they are singular. They begin and then they end, unknown to anyone else. And when that happens, all secrets, all sensations—gone.

And thus the foundations of collective human memory have no chance to gather, to build, to solidify into an accessible structure. The steppingstones of the dead are constantly being paved over by the noisy, vibrant dreams of the living. Search back in your mind. Can you see the Lady when she was new, and golden in the sun, the color of her sharp and biting on your eyes, until they burned with joy? Can you feel the cold of the winters in your bones, feel the music leaking from everywhere, full of danger and gunsmoke? Can you hear those new ships pulling in, groaning, as the fresh-faced weary refuse dreamers stumbled down? Can you see her spires rivaling the stars, building inch by inch upwards with new lights each passing year like cold stalks of wheat?

Because that's part of the City you never knew. You've never been introduced.

Now…do you know what a pigeon's mind is?

"Brooklyn! Think about this! It's only a bird!"

"It's heading further south!" Brooklyn yelled, either not hearing Lexington or ignoring him. "Come on, we'll lose it!"

Lexington gave up trying to reason with Brooklyn, condemning all of the very reasonable points against this wild owl chase (including those of Brooklyn's injury, the fact that as they had no way of knowing where the bird was headed to the only way to catch it was by following it blindly, and that meant adjusting to every single dive and sudden turn it took, which in turn increased the possibility of Brooklyn making his arm worse) to stew in silence. Not to mention (because he had given up on it), birds could actually fly instead of just gliding, and right now it seemed to be determined to rub that fact in their faces as smugly as it could.

It would soar along above them as if it didn't notice them, waiting for the moment when finally one of them had gained enough altitude to reach it, then plummet downwards and loop back around them in another direction. Most of the time when this happened (for it had happened a few times now…Lexington resolved to look up snowy owls when this was over. He was certain that they were not supposed to be this smart), they found the owl unconcernedly preening itself on a tree branch or power line, only for it to take off and lead them on the chase again.

It was sometime after the bird, though some highly impressive maneuvering, had tricked both Brooklyn and himself into crashing into one another in midair that he realized he wanted this bird caught as bad as Brooklyn did, albeit for different reasons.

"Alright, time-out," Lexington growled, heaving himself up onto the oak branch that had broken his fall. "We're going to get spotted if we keep this up. We need a strategy."

The chase had led them so far up Madison and down countless rooftops, until finally they'd hit the park, which was a blessing. The air above the trees was considerably clearer, and the trees themselves proved to be much softer than concrete.

"You don't say," Brooklyn said, sounding winded. He was somewhere above Lexington, and from the sound of cracking and rustling he was also struggling to right himself.

"How's that shoulder?" Lexington asked.

"Not better," Brooklyn grunted. "Never mind about me; think up something fast. We might lose the bird if we can't see it."


Lexington's gaze snapped forward. He knew Brooklyn had heard it too, and that within seconds they'd both spotted it—the damn owl, a ghostly white smudge in the dim light of Central Park streetlamps, watching them from a tree directly across the path.

"I really don't like that bird," Lexington growled.

Carol Ildia was extremely sour.

Contrary to the opinions of a majority of her tenants, when landlording Carol did not run a particularly tight ship. In fact, her landlord record metaphor ran more along the lines of a iceberg: things just sort of worked themselves out around her without the slightest effort on her part, and no one questioned the severe, commanding attitude that was only a carefully presented tip of her personality.

Currently something was upsetting her, and she no longer felt like an iceberg.

The phone rang. Carol ignored it.

It kept ringing. So Carol ignored it some more.

She was going to answer it. But only because she knew who it was calling her, and knew they would not give up until she answered, and knew that it had to ring at least another hour before the person on the other end was as going to be as annoyed as she was.

So an hour later, she answered the phone.

"For just how long will you always be a stubborn donkey's ass?" said the voice on the other end.

"Just as long as you are always an irritating, spiteful floozy," Carol answered. "So, how have you been?"

"Fabulous," answered the voice. "I keep telling you. New York is great but ohmygod L.A. is so much more fun. When are you ever going to come visit me?"

"It has already been established that 'never' is the answer to that question," said Carol.

"Well, yeah, okay. I wouldn't really want you here either. You're a real drag most of the time."

Carol clenched the phone tightly, but kept her voice level. The good thing about phones was that you didn't have to work so hard at hiding how nettled someone made you. "Which is why you're so desperate for my attention. You're logic is as airtight as always."

The voice on the other end of the phone cascaded into perfect, chiming laughter. "Don't have a cow, darling. Sisters should take the time to catch up with each other, and it's been so long since we talked last."

"We're not sisters."

The voice on the phone was silent. "So something is bothering you," it said. "Mason was right. What is it?"

"Mason?" Carol frowned. "Who—oh. Right. Changed his name again, did he?"

The woman giggled. "Well, do you blame him? It's fun, really. I'm thinking of switching myself."

Carol had filled notebooks full of sonnets and odes that went out of style centuries ago. She had spent three years living in a Tibetan Buddhist temple studying the art of sand mandalas, painting vast and intricate portraits of the universe with colored sand only to upon completion let them blow away in the wind after days of laborious work. It had been over a decade at least (if not much, much longer) since Carol had pulled down a job with a salary, she was dating a Hell's Angel, and just yesterday she'd shaved off all her hair. She hated being the sensible, predictable one in her family, she really did.

"Between your jet-setting and what he gets up to, the both of you are really missing the point of normal life," Carol said.

"Well, you can tell me all about it when I get there," she said cheerily. "I'm coming up either tomorrow or three weeks from now."

"…Alright, I'll regret asking, but why so soon or so late?"

Carol felt the smirk swell up on the other end of the phone. "Well, Tommy has his own private jet but Michael has his own yacht. The latest boy-toys, you know, just wondering if you had any advice on which to pick this time."

If there was a sound that accompanied jaw clenching, perhaps a slow, menacing grind, that was what was heard through the phone connection. "You know what? I'll just figure it out myself. Kisses!"

Down went the phone in a sharp slam, crashing down in a formidable display of temper. The bad thing about hanging up phones, Carol decided, was that you couldn't show the other person just how strong your arm was when you did it.

It was an especially windy night in Central Park.

If a gargoyle knocks into a tree alone in the woods, Brooklyn found himself wondering, does he make a sound?

He and Lexington were split up, and he was currently riding the gusts low just above the trees. Lexington's idea—had to trap it before it got too much room to fly faster than they could glide, but Brooklyn couldn't tell if they were even cornering the thing. There was the occasional flash of white he thought he could see though the leaves, but it was impossible to get a fix by sight alone.

So it was a good thing he wasn't on his own.

"Heading east!" yelled Lexington from behind him. Lexington was jumping and leaping from tree to tree, attempting to herd the bird upwards to where Brooklyn was waiting.

Brooklyn leaned into the wind and cracked a smile as there came an infuriated shriek from somewhere below him. "Running out of trees, Lex! Make your move!"

And it was instantaneous: Lexington burst upwards from the branches, roaring and eyes aglow, a mad, shrill white blur just beyond his talons, rocketing straight up towards Brooklyn—

—he caught it—

—and remembered that owls, being hunters as well as wild animals, possessed an extremely vicious nature when threatened. Also, razor-sharp talons.

"Ow! Arrah! No, bad owl, ow ow LEXINGTON NO—"


Lexington, coming up too fast after the owl and unable to swerve around Brooklyn's erratic movements, collided with Brooklyn head on with a painful yelp.

"We're falling!"

"No kidding!"

"Do something!"

"I—OUCH! It bit me!"

"Left! Left now!"

"My left or y—"


Screeching in absolute fury, the owl was gone. Brooklyn and Lexington lay, heads scrambled and fresh cuts stinging, on the remains of what had once been a large tree branch of an elderly oak just on the rim of the Sheep's Meadow. So we do make a sound, Brooklyn thought dazedly. We go "ouch." "Ouch."

"Ohhhh…." Lexington groaned. "Where…did it…"

"Uhhhhhm," answered Brooklyn. "Well. Good news. I know where it's going."

"And the bad news?" asked Lexington, pulling his head upright and cradling it with his palm.

Brooklyn pointed wearily upwards, across the Meadow, and to a towering building just outside the park. "It's going over there."

Lexington's still flashing eyes slowly followed the arch of Brooklyn's arm to the building, up its glass walls to the low clouds that were drifting down, where on a clear night you could see straight to the top, where there rested a grand atrium, and atop that rested—

"Oh, no," Lexington groaned again, letting his head fall. "Well, of course it'd go there."

"Yep," Brooklyn grunted. "Are we….still going after it?"

Lexington sighed. "…Yeah," he said, finally. "Don't know about the Demona connection thing, but it's a wild animal. It shouldn't stay in the city like this, it'll die. We should go after it." He attempted sitting up, then stopped. "In a minute, we'll go after it."

"Yeah. Right. Good. A minute," Brooklyn agreed, beginning to nod his head and then very quickly stopping.

If there were a painted portrait of Owen Burnett, it would have been painted in by none other Piet Mondrian in his classic Neo-Plasticism style, nothing but perfect horizontal and vertical lines and dark colored rectangles floating on white. Owen Burnett didn't look like perpendicular lines and right angles. But he seemed to give off that impression.

A Mondrian actually hung in his office behind him. It was a gift from Mr. Xanatos, naturally, who had an eye for those kinds of things. Owen had been very moved, or at least as moved as someone like Owen Burnett could be.

He now sat at his desk in his office, alone in the castle now as he had been for the past few months with his employer incarcerated. It made for a very quiet work environment—little distraction, perfect privacy, and, though he would never consciously admit it—abysmal boredom.

For there were things to be done: forms to sign, employees to manage, progress reports to be written. No time for—

A flash on a grey television screen. Another. Owen stopped and allowed the security screens before him his full attention, the more mundane aspects of his duties momentarily tabled.

There was another flash, bright white, somewhere above the northeast turret. Then, there was nothing: moments of still halls and gardens and stone walls, black and grey and undisturbed.

A camera screen burst into a split-second of static and went dark.

Owen Burnett, nodding his head once in silent confirmation, stood up from his desk, the sharp, perfect line of his suit aligning in an uncanny ninety-degree angle just as rigid as his cherished Mondrian. Mr. Xanatos did have an eye for these kinds of things.

Lexington and Brooklyn crept as stealthily as they could against the battery wall, which had centuries before been pocked with scars accumulated from years of battle. It still possessed all its former scars (Xanatos was a stickler for detail) but now it also sported small, highly sensitive cameras here and there—and it would probably be best, they'd silently agreed, that they didn't risk breaking any more of them in order not to be seen.

As for the owl—exhausted. Or it seemed to be after its long and impressive flight all the way to the top of the castle, perched with its back to them on a cracked stone on the wall just before the beginning of the garden Xanatos had installed in the courtyard. Both Lexington and Brooklyn knew better by now that to hope the owl wasn't quick enough to react to a sudden attempt to capture it (Brooklyn especially). But, perhaps if it was too tired to put up much of a fight anymore…

A door opened in the courtyard bellow, a sharp ribbon of light cutting across the dewy ground. The both of them froze, hands outstretched on either side of the owl, not more than a couple of inches behind it. There was an almost imperceptible shiver that ran down the owl's back, and it lazily leaned forward and glided the span of the courtyard directly toward the door.

"No!" hissed Brooklyn. He jumped from the wall and glided far less gracefully down, Lexington close behind.

In the seconds that followed, Owen Burnett seemed to have stepped into a reality that was decidedly off-kilter. Within a hairsbreadth of opening the door to the castle courtyard and stepping out, a dazzling white blur of ever increasing size seemed to be drawn towards his head at an alarming speed. It was only in the space of one heartbeat that his eyes latched on to the basic symmetry of the blur just enough for his brain to flash the abrupt message "OWL" and then the thing was past him, the impressively sharp talons drawing a part in his perfectly ordered hair. His pityingly slow human reflexes at last kicked in, and at not a moment wasted, because two red-green blurs were but seconds behind the owl, and had he not thrown himself out of their path in time ("S'cuse us, coming through!") it would have resulted in a rather uncomfortable mess for all involved.

It was already resulting in an unfortunate mess immediately inside the castle hall, where he confusion of wings in the enclosed space had sent several objects of worth tumbling to the floor in a cacophony of bangs and clatters.

"Hmm," said Owen Burnett.

It took twenty minutes to follow the trail of mayhem to its final destination, which, in a way that equally fitting and irritating, happened to be the previously spotless kitchen that the gargoyles had been so fond of despoiling when they had lived in the castle.

"Don't hurt it, it's an endangered species!"

"We're an endangered species!"

Owen Burnett wearily opened the kitchen door and drank in the sight of the invaded kitchen: pans and bottles scattered, flour dusting the floor and cabinets, fallen feathers mixed in with broken dishes…

"Hold it there, Lex!"

"With WHAT?"

The owl looked furious, the pupils of its large eyes drawn into tiny pricks of fear and ferocity, it's feathers puffed out as it beat its wings in a panic. It also seemed to be tiring, relatively trapped between the gargoyles and the point where the angle of the ceiling tapered down to meet the corner of the wall, it could not, or would not, pick itself off the ground. The gargoyles seemed frazzled as well; the one called Brooklyn was covered in scratches up and down his arms, and his hair was a tormented mess. Lexington's eyes were aglow, a long gash running from the crown of his skull down to one ear.

Suddenly Brooklyn lunged and the owl was caught, silent and breathing heavily, wings pinned, between his hands. Lexington let out a cheer. Owen Burnett cleared his throat.

The two of them froze, looking at the doorway where Own stood with mouths agape. Owen Burnett raised an eyebrow, wondering if he did it enough if it would get stuck that way. It might as well, judging from how odd his professional life had become lately. "May I ask what it is you are doing?"

The gargoyles looked at one another. "Uh…"


"This is…an owl," Brooklyn said. He held out the owl slightly, as if presenting it. "We caught it."

"It's a….gargoyle thing," Lexington interjected. "All the time, back in, you know, Scotland—"

"The owl—because it's—ah, sneaky—"

"—very fast—"

"And Brooklyn won, so…um…"

"I see," Owen said, removing his glasses, a small handkerchief, polishing his glasses, sliding them on again, and pocketing the handkerchief. "Get out."

Lexington and Brooklyn shared a glance, taken aback. "Okay," said Brooklyn just as Lexington said "Love to."

They shuffled out of the kitchen, shoulders tense, expressions crossed between confusion and embarrassment. "Wait," Owen commanded suddenly, and they both looked back.

Owen Burnett stood in the wrecked hallway, holding out a simple round birdcage, approximately the right size for an owl. "You'll need to use this, if I'm not mistaken," he drawled, setting it down and turning away. "And," he added sternly as he walked away from them, "I will be informing Mr. Xanatos about this incident."

Brooklyn bristled, then seemed to deflate. "Yeah. Sure, whatever."

"Thanks for the birdcage?" said Lexington.

Dawn broke across the city like a stirring cat, slow and soft and then suddenly alert. Over Columbus Circle a flock of one hundred seventy-four pigeons landed and pecked the ground and warbled, took off and waddled and cooed and no one in particular noticed very much.

The light of the morning was an intense gold, but it soon faded into the soft blue of morning, to the clear light of noon. Close to seven thousand pigeons menaced the Central Park area. More than forty, but less than sixty pigeons sunned themselves on the roof of Belvedere Castle, or so I've been told. I haven't been by there lately. Bad stuff.

Atop the Clock Tower, five gargoyles stood frozen, and each wore a snoozing pigeon on each shoulder, all completely oblivious to one another, save one particularly aware pigeon, who sat on the stout canine-like gargoyle's head and seemed quite smug about it.

The gargoyles slept, All the nocturnal creatures slept. Most of them really needed the rest.

There are ninety-nine pigeons waiting for me to show up in my favorite spot by the pond around noon today, if you'd like to find me there. I won't tell you where the owl is.

That's private.