In Which the Dove Becomes a Nuisance
“It kept on raining and raining, and immediately it became clear that God had overlooked one minor detail in His Plan: Water covered the face of the deep, and what did the birds do? They all came and roosted on the one dry spot left on the planet, which happened to be my ark. You wouldn’t believe the mess they made! And the noise! And the— crap, as if I didn’t have enough to shovel out what with the leavings of the elephant and the hippopotamus. And then, even more problematic, the weight of all those birds added significantly to the weight of the Ark (which was never intended to support that many square cubits of wet bird) and the whole thing began to sink.
We were forced to shoot the birds.”
~Noah, Diluvium 15
You may have been excited to receive a “new blog post alert” last night only to discover it was a repeat from last week. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually mean to stick you with a rerun this week; I just mis-posted. (Let’s blame it on the copious amounts of tryptophan).
In any case, please just ignore the last email that was sent out, containing a link to last week’s post. and here is this week’s installment!
In Which the Dove Becomes a Nuisance
THEN (you won’t believe this) God decided to take issue with me on the subject.
“Noah,” His voice boomed out suddenly while I was down on my hands and knees, scrubbing out the rabbit cages. (He never did learn to give a fellow a little warning about when He was going to appear out of the blue.) “I can’t help noticing that there are a large number of dead birds floating around in the water, who do not appear to have died of natural causes.”
“I can’t help noticing that there are a large number of dead human beings floating around in the water, who do appear to have died of natural causes, unnaturally,” I muttered. But of course, He ignored me.
He explained that it reflected poorly on Him as a Deity when the one good man He had personally selected, out of everyone on Earth, took it into his head to shoot five hundred million innocent birds.
“Took it into my head?” I protested. “You make it sound like I shot the birds on a whim. Believe me,” I assured him, “if I was just killing animals on a whim, I would have killed all the animals, not just the birds.”
But naturally, He paid no attention. He made me promise not to kill any more birds. Well, I promised, because quite frankly I didn’t think there were any more left to kill. Once I take on a job, I’m usually pretty thorough about seeing it through, if I do say so myself. But that night, I crept downstairs to the aviary to check on a sick albatross, and (wouldn’t you know it?) there were three doves and three ravens, roosting comfortably in the birdcage, instead of two!
Well, it bothered me.
“Three doves,” I muttered to myself, every time I walked through the aviary. “Three doves, not two.” I had given God my word that I wouldn’t kill any more birds, and I’m a man who sticks to my word. But every time I walked past that damned birdcage and saw those smug, self-satisfied, complacent looking extra birds, it rankled. I’m the type of person who just can’t stand to have things imbalanced like that. If we’re going to be organized, let’s be organized, is what I say. What’s the point of making rules about pairs of animals, and then allowing triples? And then too, I got to thinking about history, and how it would look.
“And God said to Noah, ‘Bring two of every kind of animal with you on the Ark,’” the story would run, “and Noah almost managed it, except in two instances where he miscounted.’” I would look like an idiot!
So that night, I snuck back down to the aviary, and I opened up the birdcage.
“Go on,” I said, nudging the extra raven and dove. “Get out of here. Fly off somewhere. Get lost.”
The raven took the hint. It flew out of the Ark, and it went to and fro until the waters abated from the earth. But that stupid dove kept coming back! The first time, it flapped around for a while, and then it came and perched on the windowsill, tapping on the glass to be let in.
“Get out of here,” I told it. “Scram!” It flew off again, but seven days later, it came back. This time it had a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak.
“So what?” I said. “So you can pick a leaf from a tree. I’ll tell you something; so can a lot of animals! It’s hardly an exceptional skill. You don’t even have opposable thumbs, like the chimpanzee. I’m not even remotely impressed.”
It didn’t occur to me until later that the leaf meant there was dry land out there somewhere. (Or at least, a partially dried tree.) But I think this has been blown out of proportion historically. It’s highly possible, for example, that the dove just found the leaf floating in the water, and dried it off under its wing. Doves are highly sneaky creatures. I wouldn’t trust them farther than I can fly. However, my scorn failed to make a significant impression on the dove. It kept coming back, like the plagues of Egypt, only more annoying. You’d be surprised; it’s the little things that get to you when you’re traveling. Mosquitoes, doves … you’d think it would be the bigger animals, like the rhino and the puma, who caused the most trouble, but that dove irritated me more than any other living creature on the ark, with the possible exception of my daughter’s cat.
I shot the dove.
I did it in the dark of night. I buried its body under a loose floorboard on the Ark, and then I told everyone that it just flew away again, presumably to join forces with the raven.
But the trouble with God is, even though He doesn’t always comment on everything, leading one to the unsafe conclusion that He isn’t paying attention, He does, in fact, see everything. That night, He appeared to me in the reptile room.
“Noah,” God said to me. “Where is the third dove?”
I said, “What third dove?”
God gave me a Look.
“That dove,” I informed Him, “has been wreaking havoc all over the Ark. He’s insubordinate. How am I supposed to concentrate on feeding the leopards and the rabbits, when that dove is always flapping around the ark, monopolizing all the attention?”
God said He would overlook my transgressions this time (since it would be impossible, at this late date, to replace me) but not to let it happen again.
Honestly, sometimes He acts like I was the one who came to Him, begging for the privilege of becoming a floating zookeeper. Please recall that I didn’t ask for this job. (And frankly, if I had known the job was coming, I would have lived a much more sinful life, so as to avoid it.) But I assured God that it wouldn’t happen again.
And so, the Ark sailed on. ♦
(To be continued…)