On the roof of this five-story building is a forest of tar, softening in the summer, seeping rain in the winter. Pigeons roost there. Not in the tar itself, but in little areas where vents pop out above the forest. There is one larger vent, a two feet wide tube, that makes its way straight down to the bottom floor. At the bottom floor there’s an L joint, where the tube zig zags before turning back down, making its final destination, the extinct steam broiler in the basement. That L joint is exposed in a retail shop.
Occasionally, pigeons fall down the vent from the roof, even if the top of the vent is roofed and fenced to stop them from roosting. Pigeons must roost. Since it’s a vertical drop and pigeons can’t fly like helicopters, they get stuck in the L joint. There’s no way to get to them, unless you take apart the pieces of the vent, shaped sheet metal, in sections, painted over in decades of lead paint. This, to the best of my knowledge has never happened. The pigeons scratch with desperate claws for a few days. Then silence.
(Next week, a hole will be cut in the side of the L joint. A little sliding metal door will be fixed to its side. Inside the vent, countless skeletons and feathers of numerous pigeons. Their remains will be placed to rest in respect. Now, when the scratching of claws is heard, I will take a very tall ladder and slide open the little metal door.)