All birds have the same eyes of opaque reddish blackness that swallow light, reflecting nothing, though to Anne these pigeons her dad has kept in rusty cages in a corner of their unkempt yard seem vaguely, ominously afraid, always, in their constant restlessness. Anne shivers in her nightgown and robe and steps closer, between curiosity and awe, because these birds remind her of thoughts that remind her of people and how they, too, are always fearfully ascending ing or descending some kind of height, closer or further from God, borne heavenward by angels or tormented by devils, winged creatures also.
The last patches of snow crunch in the chill morning air as she steps forward to peer into a cage at one bird, at the small greenish iridescence shimmering at its neck. Its claws scrabble and cling, sharp and ugly, gnarled and gray. They're like aliens, so inhuman, far beyond us and yet a part of her now, because they have witnessed her as another creature just as desperate to fly.
The restaurant is nearly silent but for muffled weeping and the soft drone of passing cars outside on 84. The end of the gun barrel noses slowly through bright space. Beneath her table, Jimmy beside her, Anne watches the gunman step away past the bleeding motionless body of the dead guy still in his baseball ball cap in the middle of the dining area. The gunman's foam-rubber sole leaves a shiny wafflelike print behind, of iced tea, spilled and dripping ping from the other guy's table. The gunman steps up to the drink island, and Anne can't see for sure but she hears faint sounds among everyone's held breaths and the soft intermittent sound of traffic outside, like sighing: a straw wrapper torn, a foam cup slid across the drink island countertop, a white paper napkin pulled from a dispenser. Feathery sounds.
The birds' claws grip the wire at the bottom of their cages, like the last purchase in the world, all that keeps them from being flung skyward by the earth's spinning, by whatever force it is that adds more and more distance between each of us and everything there is. From behind her, softly, her mother's voice turns her slowly back again, saying her name like an unanswerable question, "Anne?"
Roy Freirich. Winged Creatures: A Novel (Kindle Locations 930-943). Kindle Edition.