Ray knew that the pigeons were following him. He was unsure, however, if the pigeons knew that he knew. It was something he felt he needed to find out. He knew why they were following him. He had stopped feeding them and started feeding the squirrels. The squirrels were his allies. The pigeons had been ungrateful.
He sat down on his usual park bench and tried to act nonchalant. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a pigeon moseying his way, pretending to be looking for interesting morsels amongst the debris. He wasn’t buying the act.
He ignored it for a while but another one soon joined it. Tormented, he jumped up from his seat and confronted them.
“Just who do you think you’re fooling? I’m on to you. Yes, and you too! All of you! You’ll pay for this, just you watch and see!”
Several people near by turned to stare and then moved on, as did the pigeons. Ray gloated.
“That’s right, run you cowards. This is my park, see?”
He moved across the square to his second favourite bench. It was where he chose to feed the squirrels. He made a grand gesture of bringing out the bag of peanuts he had brought for them. They came running to him as soon as they saw what he had.
As he fed them they climbed all over him and he revelled in their adoration. One, however, had been sitting near his feet as the others scampered about. It stared at him intently.
“What’s up little guy? Why aren’t you eating?”
The squirrel looked about and then climbed his pant leg and moved up to his shoulder, displacing a couple of others.
“Listen Ray, there’s danger ahead. I’ve come to warn you. It’s not safe for you here. You should leave now.”
“You mean the pigeons? I knew it! They’re out to get me. They’re jealous is what. Did you overhear them plotting, is that it?”
“No Ray, not the pigeons. It’s – “
The squirrel shot off of his shoulder and into the bushes as if it had been spooked by something. Ray was so startled he hadn’t noticed the two men who had been approaching him from an oblique angle until they had flanked him, blocking any escape attempt. One of them spoke to him in a gentle voice as the other smiled reassurance
“Hello Ray. You’ve been away from us for over a month. It’s time to go home now.”
Ray jumped up and tried to run but they grabbed him by the arms and held him fast as another man came out of the bushes with a restraint.
“No! You don’t understand! I have to stay here. They need me, don’t you see? I’m their friend. I protect them from the pigeons. They’re the ones you need to watch, not me!”
“I know Ray, we’ll take care of all that, but you have to come back to the home now. It was naughty of you to run off like that. It took us a long time to find you. Just come along now, it will be alright.”
Several people looked on in shock as they led Ray to the waiting van, then went back to what they were doing before the commotion began.