I identify with the quail’s reluctance to fly. It takes on a more metaphorical meaning for me, but that’s the point, innit? I, too, would rather walk or lightly jog rather than put in the effort to spread my wings and take flight. Among humans, that still entails the “natural order” of: house, job, marriage, spawning. Anyway, for the quails, it takes too much valuable energy to fly, and why bother when all their food sources are located on the ground? Or when they’re more vulnerable to predators by being so visible against the backdrop of the clear, blue sky? Down in the ground, filled with random, dun-colored leaves, the quails are better off. They have more of a fighting chance at survival by not “succeeding” at what birds do best.
I guess you could say that’s how I feel about my own life. That I’m better off staying down at heel than trying to “fly.” And what even is flying in this society anyway? Apart from being obsessed with your fucking bag and how burgeoning it is. What a fucking yawn. I wish life could be more interesting than it actually is. Truth be told, it probably could be when you’re bopping around and running like a quail through the woods with only the basic goal of avoiding death. Which actually seems like a rather inane practice at this juncture in our timeline.
Their points of retreat may often seem arbitrary, but I believe there’s a method to their madness. That they know exactly what they’re aiming for and where they’re going in order to hide from any potential threat. Even someone as innocent as myself. I would never hurt one of “God’s creatures” (sidebar: I don’t believe humans are God’s creatures). And it has always been a dream of mine to be able to capture a scene of the quails actually running so that I can later soundtrack it with Missy Elliott saying, “Run for cover, motherfucker.” But alas, they’re too lickety-split with their speed to fully capture on film. In case you didn’t know, they can run up to fifteen miles an hour. That’s pretty fucking fast considering how tiny those legs look. Yet it’s just another way in which the quail is underestimated. In addition to being stereotyped as “lazy” for not capitulating to using their wings as a means of escape. No one understands how much energy it takes to forage. The quail would like to see you out on these “streets” doing the same and trying to fly, then come talk shit about their hesitancy.
Walking through the grounds of these woods that I’ve come to inhabit, I find my own legs becoming as well-toned and muscular as the quail’s. Their legs were designed for running and scratching—sort of like women’s legs and hands for doing the same to predatory men. There are no such predators here… I’ve made certain of that. Because it’s amazing how easily you can convince men of “equality” with the barrel of a shotgun staring them between the eyes. That’s how I came to acquire this cabin in the first place—by force. And yeah, I fed on the man’s body until I could get my strength back. There was no way I was going to be able to hunt for non-human game until I could restore myself to tip-top shape. Surprisingly, I gained a real insight into why cannibalism holds such appeal to some. Once the former owner of the cabin’s “nutrients” took hold in my bloodstream, the paranoia waned. No officer of the law was going to think to look for me here, buried in the bowels of these woods that even God forgot. The quails didn’t. They became my closest confidants, whether they were aware of it or not. I considered myself part of their covey. Even if they ran like hell as soon as I got too close.
Sometimes, I would catch them taking one of their dust baths, relishing the soft dirt the way a pig in shit is usually associated with doing. As the weeks passed, I soon had to face the fact that, ultimately, just as it was in the “real” world, I was but an outsider to this social circle too. I would never genuinely be part of their brood, especially once they hatched a family that they liked to parade around via their coordinated running. Running, running—always running. The longer I stayed in the woods, the more the quails were starting to remind me of the humans I had fled from “out there.” They didn’t care as much about “flying” a.k.a. “prospering,” but they were still rather exclusionary assholes.
I guess you could say that’s how I ended up reneging on my previous statement about never hurting one of “God’s creatures.” I finally couldn’t help myself one day though. They just seemed to take on such an air of self-superiority and I wanted to knock it right out of every last bird I could aim for. Needless to say, it gave me some flashbacks to my spree in the grocery store (convenience stores never had any substantial cash, and banks were fucking untouchable for robbing these days). And that was both cathartic and eye-opening. I guess misanthropy can extend to all species after a long enough period spent trying to feel “part of it” but never being “let in.”
As I sat down that night to enjoy the consumption of my kills, I was smacked down with the reality that Mother Nature truly is obsessed with restoring the balance when one of her charges is harassed or decimated. Because what I hadn’t accounted for was the coturnism that would come for me. Apparently, one or more of the quails I had killed must have ingested some hemlock. Ergo my present state of convulsing. Although it felt like I was dying at first, I was shocked to find that wings were sprouting where my arms once were. I was given the divine “clearance” to fly. Yet all I could do was continue to sit there like a defiant lump.