I’M YOUR MANIMAL!?!
Omer Asik stared at the back of Anthony Davis as the latter walked passed him. “Ridiculous?” he asked himself, and then he saw his reflection in the glass door leading into the New Orleans Pelicans’ facility. He was wearing a suit of blond feathers. His mask looked like a plastic totem. Maybe I am ridiculous, he thought. He pulled off the mask and dragged it on the sidewalk, until it became too heavy with doubt and was left behind, like Houston, like Chicago, like everything.
Omer wandered through the woods and the swamp. He walked by a neighborhood bar with a CLOSED sign on the door. He went by the aquarium. He walked up to the ticket booth, but the ticket booth operator called Animal Control. He was chased away by men with nets and snares.
A bus driver wouldn’t let him board. “Sorry, but I don’t want to vacuum up any feathers.”
“They’re not real, sir. I mean, I’m not really a bird.”
“I just don’t want to take any chances.” The door closed. Omer saw his reflection again. And the bus drove on down the road.
He skulked into a Starbucks, looking for a pick me up. He ordered a coffee, but when he was asked to pay, he realized his costume didn’t have any pockets. “I guess not he said, but I’m good for it, I promise. How about an I.O.U.”
“An I.O.U.? You either have it or you don’t.”
“But I’m an NBA player. Of course I have it.”
“Right now, you’re just a man in a bird suit. What are you?” Omer stretched out his arms and looked side to side. The man behind the counter answered his own question, “An albatross.”
Omer took a seat beside a woman with a laptop. She was typing away furiously. He couldn’t help but stare at her. He recognized her. She was cute.
“What are you writing?” he asked.
“A book,” she said, not looking up.
He kept staring. “Did you write a book about a girl in a swamp?”
She looked up. She looked around the coffee shop. And, then, feeling safe that no one else would hear: “Yeah, it was called Swamplandia!”
“I loved that book,” he said and reached out his arm slash wing thing.
She eyed it suspiciously. “Is this some idea of a sick joke?”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“Did you read the book? My character the Bird Man does horrible things.”
“Oh, I totally forgot I was wearing this—I’m not that kind of Bird Man. I wore this for Anthony. I’m on the basketball team—the Pelicans? I wanted Anthony to know I was going to match his intensity, that I was ready to be a part of everything.”
The lady was packing up her things. “It was. . . uh. . . it was nice meeting you.” She rushed out, hugging her laptop.
Omer watched her go and then he turned back towards the coffee bar. An unclaimed beverage sat on it. Someone, most likely a Starbucks employee had written K-E-N in sharpie on its paper skin. “Is anyone going to drink that?” Omer asked.
“I don’t think so,” said a barista. “It’s been there for days.”
Omer sat a while longer, and, then, when he thought it was safe, he snuck out the side door with Ken’s coffee. He took a sip in the parking lot; it was cool as milk, yet bitter to the taste.