“How’re we going to do this, Quentin?”
“We cut him out of the flock and get him started. Treat him like a cow.”
“He’s twenty feet up in the air.”
“He’s suspicious. Look at him quiver. Stare at us, you fat thing!” Quentin had crossed the barnyard, and he was climbing over boards and hay bales, his breath coming fast.
“Bring the dogs up, Lloyd. Easy. He’s slowing down. Hold your dog on that rafter.”
Quentin felt Gopher nudging at his ankles. “You got the bug, old boy? Look at that pigeon. He gets much slower eyeing us and he falls right out of the sky. By God, she’s got him started. That dog of yours has him turned, Lloyd. Give her her head.” Quentin was flapping his arms at the whole world of pigeons that was screeching around his ears and, as he scrambled off the board he was balanced on, he felt the mud of the barnyard squish up around his boots and Gopher shoot past him. “That’s it! Chase him, boy. Keep the son of a gun going.”
They were all running, Ginny leaping and Gopher pounding across the earth, and Quentin’s heart felt as big as his chest. “We’ve got it, Lloyd,” he yelled. They were thudding across the ruts of the hayfield, and the sky above them was strung now like a longbow with an infinite line of migrant pigeons. They were running, the dogs barking, the pigeons soaring in a flash of wings overhead.
At the ditch along the road, Quentin stopped, his heart roaring.“Here, Gopher,” he called. He felt a wet muzzle push into his hand and he crouched down on one knee and circled his arms around Gopher’s heaving sides. “Hold on to your dog, Lloyd. See him? He’s checking it out to pass at the roof. I knew it! Look at him, Lloyd.” Quentin wiped the sweat off his forehead and ran his hand down Gopher’s flank.
Lloyd let out a whistle. The pigeons were banking, making a slow, turning arc in the sky, approaching the barn from the north and west and dropping one by one to the peak, to the shingles of the roof.
“That’s him landed first, plumping his feathers.” Quentin’s tone was hushed, but his voice was shaking with excitement. “I told you, Lloyd.”
Field Barn © Robert Meier