They were chirping earlier and earlier. As though out of spite for any being that might deign to sleep in. Like Angela, who was feeling anything but angelic that dawn at around 4:45 a.m. when she could finally take it no more. Having rolled into her bed all but thirty minutes earlier after a late night spent in the city and a long car ride back to her “just outside of Paris” hell in Neuilly-sur-Seine, she was at her threshold for her slumber being interrupted by this pack of boisterous birds. She cared not what race they were, they were all the same: vexing, loud, incorrigible. And, most of all, indefatigable. A quality she sometimes wished she had in order to stay awake twenty-four hours and never miss anything. Alas, cocaine wasn’t that strong of a drug–at least not strong enough to keep her as chirpy as these birds when it came down to it. Nor were amphetamines paired with cocaine, as Angela had recently learned. 

After a fit of tossing and turning, covering her head with her pillow and popping another sleeping pill, she couldn’t take it anymore. Had lost all propensity for peaceable politics in dealing with these foul fowl. Although she was aware what she was about to do next might wake up the entire rest of the household, including her younger brother, Henri, and her increasingly hard of hearing parents, Alain and Camille, she had to take a stand. And so, sitting up in her bed to light a much needed cigarette (Gauloises bien sûr), she also pulled from out of the drawer of her nightstand a medium-sized silver pistol, complete with the inscription: “À ma petite fêtarde.” It had been given to her by her uncle, Gustav, the Chief of Staff of the Armée de terre (expectedly mustachioed and grey in order to qualify for such a role). His access to weaponry, of course, knew no bounds, and when he had heard her go on about her frequent escapades in the city one evening at a parent-sanctioned dinner–one that required her to be under the constant influence of the flask she kept returning to every time she went to the bathroom–he took her aside privately afterward to inform her that he would be equipping her with a gun whether she wanted one or not. And, of course, not to tell her mother or father about it. “A young, attractive girl like you needs protection,” he insisted after he kissed her just a little too lengthily on the lips. 

She wrote off his gift as ludicrous, tucking it away in the drawer until now, almost a year later. It had been a long winter, maybe that’s why it took so long for her to remember that birds existed. Les oiseaux d’enfer. And that they existed so vocally. As though their entire purpose in life was to announce themselves to others. Sure, the environmental zealots could go on about the imperative function to nature they served in pollinating plants and serving as food to predators, but everyone knew the truth: the bird was a menace, getting off on commination (and contamination)–as though they were God’s stool pigeons. In effect, all birds were as nefarious as this, the basest of breeds. But at least pigeons cooed fucking quietly and not in stereophonic sound the way these motherfuckers did.

Taking a long and ecstasy-filled drag from her cigarette, she stumbled out of her bed–freshly changed with pink satin sheets by the maid–and careened indiscriminately toward her bar cart as the strap on her white silk chemise (the one she had also worn out as a dress that very evening) fell lazily off her shoulder, lending her an even more feral quality… as punctuated by her unkempt hair and smeared makeup, which she had been too tired to bother with removing.

Pouring herself ever so much more than a thimble of whiskey in a crystal old-fashioned glass, she approached her window, drawing back the periwinkle blue drapes and staring out at the trees (mainly of the platanus orientalis digitata variety), which, on the surface, looked empty. But of course they weren’t. They were teeming with avian iniquity, and Angela was about to blow them out of their safeguard. Hiding “innocently” among the leafy clusters like the sinners and evil-doers they were. No, a divine choir they were not. Then again, maybe that’s how they saw themselves if they felt the need to hide. For “divinity” never seems to feel inclined to show itself, at least not unless the circumstances are extraordinary. As they would be this morning, when Angela saw fit to bring them into the spotlight, so to speak. Sending them sky-high without them actually needing to flap their wings if she hit her targets accurately.

Returning to the nightstand with her drink in hand, the liquid sloshing about in the glass and just barely missing the chance to splash over the rim, she grabbed for the gun. Maybe it would only take a single shot to send them all flying away in a panicked frenzy. Maybe she would even actually hit one. She didn’t care, she just wanted them gone. And violence was the only way to assert her dominance over this block. The one they had taken to overrunning merely because it was spring. Spring. What a disgusting season, filled with false promise and the just warm enough weather that gets people feeling “frisky” again. She knew she certainly wasn’t, as the previous night’s outing at the club had demonstrated. All the men groping her, maybe even raping her in the bathroom for as cognizant as she was of anything, only making her want to vomit, which she did by the end of it all, the last thing she could recall being hurling out the window of the car. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why she had such an unpleasant taste in her mouth. 

Striding back to the window, feeling more awake than she had in weeks, she attempted to tinker with the cylinder to see if it had any bullets in it (if not, old Gustav had furnished her with a supply of those, to boot), accidentally pulling the trigger at a moment when the barrel was directed a little too closely to her head.

Henri and even the deafened by age Alain and Camille came running to her room almost immediately after they heard the blast which, yes, had been loud enough to send the birds outside her window scattering. Unluckily, as though part of some unforeseen cosmic retribution, it had sent Angela’s brains scattering as well.

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