I was sitting in my car, waiting for my roommate to finish checking in her puppy at the local PetSmart near our apartment, when I spotted them. It looked as if six or seven grey doves had gathered on top of the building where the PetSmart was located. I thought this was strange, mostly because I could swear I had never seen more than one or two doves at a time sit in a tree, or on top of a building. But here was what could only be described as a gathering of doves. Did this mean something? Probably not. Either way, that’s when my roommate emerged from the PetSmart, having left her poodle, Milly, behind to be groomed. So with no more thought about the doves, I drove us home.
But then the next day, while heading to work, I spotted another gathering of doves, this time, about ten or more near one corner on the roof of an elementary school I passed by everyday to and from work.
Slowing down, I kept my eyes on the flock until I passed the school then sped up. Like the day before, I thought it was strange, but shrugged it off as just my overimagination, especially after having just watched, for the umteenth time, Hitchcock’s The Birds on TV. But it did give me a little bit of a shudder.
For the next few days I had no more sightings of doves, until the weekend when I parked in front of the local theater complex. I was just about to get out of my car when I spotted a whole bunch of doves clammering about in the branches of several trees near the front entrance.
What the hell was going on, I thought? This definitely felt like something out of a Hitchcock movie. With tingles of fear running all around my stomach, I gingerly stepped out of my car. Then while keeping a close eye on the hords in the trees, began walking slowly toward the entrance to the theater.
At the window, I said to the person giving me my ticket, “Have you seen all those birds?” I gestured over my shoulder.
She nodded then replied, “Must be a storm coming.” I also nodded, as if I agreed with her. I knew a storm might cause seagulls to migrate inland, but I didn’t think the same would happen to doves. Oh, well, I thought as I entered the theater. Later, when I left, there was no sign of doves anywhere. Once again, I put them out of my mind, until about a week later when I came out of church after mass and spotted three doves sitting on the roof of my car in the parking lot. I stopped short and stared.
“What the hell is going on?” I mumbled to myself.
Obviously, I had spoken loud enough for someone passing near me to hear. “What’s the matter?” an elderly woman, leaning on her cane asked me. I recognized her from my numerous Sunday visits to church. I’d been a practicing Catholic since I was a child.
Trying to shuck it off, I said to her, “Nothing. I just thought I saw a bird do its thing on my car.” She looked toward the parking lot, but by then, the doves had flown away.
“I don’t see anything,” she replied.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said to her. “It’s nothing.” Shrugging, she hobbled off. But I couldn’t get the image of the doves on my car out of my mind. Which was why, I turned around and headed back inside the church.
I looked for and found Sister Marie, and asked her if I could talk to her about something. “Sure!” she replied with a smile, and pointed toward one of the empty pews. Sister Marie, as many nuns in the US these days, was wearing civilian clothes instead of the traditional religious garb.
After we sat down, I began to explain to her about the doves and wondered if God was trying to send me some kind of message? Looking thoughtful for a moment, she shook her head. “I doubt it,” she replied. “You’re probably just experiencing an unusual set of circumstances.”
“I hope so,” I said as I stood and shook her hand to thank her for talking with me. But to be honest, I didn’t fully agree with her explanation.
That night I had “the nightmare.” I call it “the nightmare,” because it was what prompted me to do what I did.
In my dream, I was driving to work in my car when I spotted several doves circling just above and in front of my car. Slowing down a little, I strained my neck to peek up through my windshield to see if I could spot any others. I did—hundreds of them! Suddenly, they swarmed down and formed a tornado of birds around my car, causing me to stop dead in the middle of the street. Not knowing what to do, I just sat there in my car while looking all around me in a panic. I was freaking out, even though none of the birds hit or lighted on my car.
Finally, the tornado of birds disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived, and after looking around to make sure they were gone, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but then I noticed where I had stopped—in front of the elementary school where I had seen the doves before. That’s when it dawned on me what message God might have been trying to send me, especially when I saw the shadowy figure standing on the grass in front of the school.
The next morning, I called in sick, and instead, parked across the street from the elementary school. It was situated in the middle of a neighborhood of houses.
While sitting there, I munched on a couple of egg McMuffins from McDonald’s and sipped on a large coffee. It didn’t take me long to finish what I had. Then about fifteen minutes later, with my eyes half closed, I found myself brought around by the sound of a car door closing. This was it, I thought.
Opening my eyes, I looked toward the school. Sure enough, there he was, just like in my dream. He appeared to be either an older teen, or someone in his early twenties. He was dressed all in black with a black leather jacket, black cargo pants, black boots, and a black knit cap. Clutched in the fingers of his right hand was the military style automatic rifle I had seen in my dream.
Without saying a word and leaving my car door wide open, I got out and barreled towards him. Having played football in highschool, I knew exactly how to tackle him. He went sprawling, the gun flying out of his hand and landing nearby. Even before he could say anything, I gave him one sharp punch to the throat then grabbed the collar of his jacket and began pounding his head into the grass-covered ground several times. After about seven or eight, I stopped, then looked around to see if anyone had spotted us.
I couldn’t believe it; no one was responding! Not one person! Was that even possible?
Looking around for several more seconds, I kept expecting a door in one of the houses to open and someone to come out, but no one did. That’s when I began to feel a huge ball of fear growing inside my stomach. I knew that once someone saw me, the questions would come fast and furious, especially if they came from the cops. Who was I? What was I doing here? Did I know this other person? Was I part of the plot to shoot up the school?
I needed to get out of there and fast. So, standing up, I first stomped on one of his ankles a couple of times just to make sure he couldn’t get up and run. Then after kicking the rifle further out of his reach, I jogged back to my car and drove off.
After going a short distance down the road, I pulled out my phone and put in a call to 911. Of course the person answering wanted to know who I was, but I wouldn’t tell him. I just said that someone with a gun was lying on the grass in front of the elementary school, then hung up.
Like I said, somehow, as impossible as it might sound, no one spotted me doing what I had done. And even though I was sure the police were going to show up on my doorstep at any moment, they never did. But, of course, the incident made national news.
After a few days, when no one came to interrogate me, and I finally stopped shaking both inside and out, I tried to continue with my life as if nothing had happened. But something had happened, and Sister Marie suspected it was me who had been involved.
“Why would you think that?” I said to her, after she approached me the following Sunday in church.
“Because the news said that when the police arrived, they found several doves hovering around the kid on the grass, almost as if they were waiting to see if he would get up again. After what you told me about the doves, I put two and two together.” I sat down in an empty pew and refused to look at her. Instead I kept my eyes focused on my hands in my lap. “So I’m right; that was you who stopped him, wasn’t it?” When I didn’t answer, she continued. “I guess God was giving you a message, after all, wasn’t he?”
“Maybe,” I mumbled, still not looking at her.
The rest of my days were pretty much normal, until one Sunday a few weeks later, while walking toward the front entrance of the church, I spotted a small flock of doves flying in a circle above the building’s steeple.
Oh, s**t, not again!