Tom went on his first date with Andrea in a park that had a duck pond behind a very tall fence constructed from thick iron bars. The fence was such that it allowed a minimal view of the actual animals within. In some ways the view that took place as you walked along the pond's edge was like an old pre-cinema projector: a magic lantern or perhaps more accurately a zoetrope. Slits in the fence lined up like dominos separated by the voids created by fencing. This modern incarnation of the zoetrope gave the impression of robotic animals behind the fence: ducks of colors unknown, flicking about with disjointed wings and broken legs as 3” iron bars, painted a green that has never occurred in nature, stole their middle states of animation. The flicker of ducks made Tom think about how his intentions never found their reflection in the environment around him.
Earlier in the day he had watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic play his first game with the LA Galaxy. Tom was a big MLS fan; the only one among his friends to have such a passion. For this game, waiting for his favorite player to take the field, he had listened to the pundits dissect the career of Ibrahimovic as if all that was left was for him to take the field as some token to greatness; he had been put carefully back in his original packaging and now this castrated version of him was being seen on the field. And amongst talk of Ibrahimovic having passed his prime, he launched into his first game, striking a volleyed ball at midfield, scoring a miraculous goal, on par with anything he had achieved in his Premier League days.
Tom felt he shared something with Ibrahimovic in this moment; some sort of talent, or hidden spark, that people had told him he didn’t have and he was waiting to create some performance where it became obviously, fully known. Unlike Ibrahimovic, no one had ever seen the talent in the first place. It languished in his mind and stayed hidden just beneath the nerve endings of his extremities.
So when walking at this caged duck pond with a woman who, in affect, seemed unclear if she wanted to be there, he tried to jostle his limbs into a representation of something that approached what he thought his greatness was; the presence and continuity that he felt he had with the world around him. Playful, smart, and carefree. As they approached a flock of pigeons he threw a leg out towards them, to spook them, with a little cackle of a kindergarten boy running towards a puddle that he plans to leap into with wonder and the energy of a pure moment.
With the swing of Tom’s leg, the pigeons swooped to the air in that chaotic order that they always tend to do, eyes wide and necks outstretched like biathlon skiers trying to be the first across the finish line. Near the front, a single pigeon, however, flicked his head with careless concentration, whipping his head tetherball-like around his, in retrospect, thin, below average neck. With this drunken swing of its head, the pigeons flight path was altered from that of a retreating trajectory to one that intercepted perfectly with the swing of Tom’s cueball foot, stuffed down to the bottom of his tube sock leg. With geometric precision they each became legs of a physics problem triangle, meeting precisely at one of its corners, the pigeon connecting with all laces. The impact sent the pigeon directly into the duck pond fence, dropping it limp to the ground.
It’s unclear if the shoe or the fence was the cause of death, but the ducks all sat behind their old theatre fence, thinking to themselves, “this must be intermission”.