In driving up to Asheville from NOLA, I could not weather the 13 hour drive that lay before me me. My friend’s parents live in Atlanta, a city of great mystery to me. They live somewhere North of the center, and they welcomed me to come stay.
Their house can’t be seen from the busy street, obscured by large hedgerows. I don’t know anything about Atlanta, but I’m pretty sure their place is bizarre by any urban standards. A large house with a few surrounding duplexes was home to Bob, Susan, a few tenants, chickens, sprawling plants and greenhouses, a massive water-catchment system, various sheds with bizarre re-claimed scrap-metal and tools, greenhouses, and a large, brick, open home in the middle. It felt like a weird commune with open doors and animals running around in the middle of the city. It was also home to Otis:
Otis is a small, old, and somewhat underwhelming dove. He is not all-white as I envision doves, and he bore more no olive branches, or branches of any kind. This recording is the sound of his more-or-less timeless coo-ing, on the front porch of a strange Atlanta compound in the morning. The crickets are spritely, the traffic has already begun to surge, and Otis continues his forlorn long.
I asked Bob, the wily-hair 73 year old co-owner of the house about Otis’s story.
“Otis must be 15…17…or so.” He says, in a moment of strange rumination for one who is seemingly chuckling about the present moment in perpetuity.
“A cat killed his partner. Very sad. I think his forlorn, guttural cry is a kind of ‘woe is me’ story.” He concludes.
My friend Liliana grew up with Otis, revealing more.
“I kinda pity him. His foot got broken when he was small, because he had some metal ring around his tiny bird ankle that got infected. My parents tried to remove it and his foot got broken. But even so, one time he got out of his cage and flew off. He was gone for a week, and then he just showed up again. Doves come back!”
Otis lives in Atlanta, presumably watching the strange revolving door of all-comers moving across his life. I have no idea if he is happy in there, or what’s going on in his mind, but listening to crickets and a literal crying dove on a slow morning in Atlanta feels like a lucky confluence of events.