„So what are we then?“ Jack asked, his black eyes glimmering like a bonfire at dawn.
„Well, ravens!“ Johnny replied. He was the most senior in this group of three. Normally he led a whole flock at the Cimetiere d’Ixelles. But today he had the day off.
„I thought ravens don‘t bloody well hang out in cities, but only in oh-so-remote forests, where they feast on the dead bodies of the deer that were unlucky enough to run towards the jinxed cabin of some deranged witch, like in some fucking Grimm tale.”
„Ravens do live in cities obviously. We live in cities. We have black beaks. We are bigger than crows and we eat whatever this beautiful urban forest provides us with.“ Johnny has always loved Brussels, among other things, for its richness of different trees. Where else would you find a Japanese cherry beside an oak? Or different coloured magnolia bushes lining the streets to the university?
„Oh yeah, the urban buffet“, Jack yelled. „Old fishbones and mussel shells that we need to peel from plastic bags on crowded balconies. And dammit. Thats only if those screwed-up seagulls are not around. The motherfuckers tried to take out one of my eyes last Sunday. That‘s what we are supposed to do, right? And as for black beaks. I am not confident, mate. Black beak equals raven. You’re sure? What about crows or magpies? Are they far from black? The only thing I know, is that those fucking parrots have no black beak. Oh no. They got a bloody carnival outfit, they brought all the way from fucking Rio.“
„Do you have to use this language?“ Johnny asked. He spread his wings as if to show some extra authority. The smoking chimney behind him indicated that it was still getting chilly in May.
„I use the language I fucking want to. If you don‘t like it, fly to the Tintin grave, where you like spending so much time.“
„Oh dear“, Johnny said.
Jim the largest bird of the three chuckled.
„And languages. Good you mention it.“ Jack was all fired up know. „What are we speaking?“
„I dont know about the what,“ Johnny replied, his tone a tinge sharper now „It is the how that I am worrying about.“
„No, but honestly“, Jack insisted. „If language is giving you your identity or whatever, it makes you a being or what, then we are pretty scr…You know what I mean.“
Both Johnny and Jim looked in different directions. Johnny was considering flying off to the vis-a-vis roof with the large rain puddle on the rotten tarpaulin. He couldn’t imagine any forest lake to be more apt to cool his feathers after a long flight.
„We don’t speak French, let alone Dutch. We don’t speak this expired German either. None of us has ever read Edgar Allan Poe and we have names of some ridiculous whiskey brands. What does that do to your identity? We could just as well be pigeons.“
„Bullshit!“ Jim threw in. Jack looked down the spout avoiding eye contact.
„This is the magic of it“, Jim continued, „to live in a place where you don‘t have to be anyone. Just fly to whichever roof you want of whichever colour you fancy. You may even talk to the pigeons. They’re nice, Jack. And they know jokes.“
The herald called from the birch. His cawing like a chime below the pink evening clouds.
„Let’s go“, Johnny said, his peak locked in a grin. Jim, my big old fellow, he thought. Always good for the right word at the right moment, even if he could not skip profanity either. He would have to address that with him too. But not tonight.
And so, Johnny, Jim and Jack drifted towards their leafy meeting point like three dark friends in the city of freedom.