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Issue number eight




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Full of Everything by Brendan McKennedy

The whole place was filled with birds."

What? What kinds of birds?

"What do I look like? Birds. That's what kind. Bird birds."

What were you on?

"Nothing. Greenies."


"Fuck you, though, there were birds, thousands. Ask Jennie. She was there too, with me. And don't bring up the UFO, that was six years ago."

Two years ago. Two.

"Whatever. Listen, though. Jennie saw them, and I don't think she was on anything. What's funny?"

I'm trying not to bring up the UFO.

"Forget it, then."

No, no. Go on. You broke into a shoe store, and there were birds. So what? And you never answered me about why you were in there in the first place.

"I said: Boots."

What boots? You can't just say "boots."

"Boots. Jennie saw these boots in there like last Saturday. They had suede fringe and all. She wanted to steal these boots."

She couldn't wait until morning? She couldn't buy the boots? You had to break into a shoe store in the middle of the night because she saw these boots?

"I don't know. Yes. That's not even important."

OK, what's important? There were thousands of birds in there. Then what?

"Well, then what was we had to decide what to do."

Why? You couldn't just get the boots and leave?

"Did you ever walk into a shoe store full of birds? If you ever did, you wouldn't feel like just leaving. I mean, you wouldn't just get the boots and leave."

What would I do?

"I don't know. You'd probably call the Audubon Society."

I donít even know what that means. You're losing me.

"Sorry, fine, just don't be like that."

Like what? OK, don't pout; let's hear it. You had to decide what to do.

"So Jennie, being Jennie, decides she wants to let all the birds out of the shoe store. I mean, they weren't just sitting there, they were flying around and everything, flying into walls, bumping against the ceiling."

What did they look like? Were they little, big? Black, brown, paisley? Crows, doves, what?

"They were all kinds. I mean, there were brown ones and black ones and there were very tiny little ones. It was hard to see. It was night and everything, and they weren't sitting still. They weren't sitting for a portrait. They were flying, right? Like birds."

Fine. What next?

"So Jennie holds the door open and starts like whooshing out the air with her hands, like she's trying to get a bad smell out of the place. She's ushering these birds, right? I'm watching her and I go, What are you doing? 'I'm trying to get the birds out,' she says. I said, Well you're doing a pretty great job. 'Better idea?' she says. I said, Maybe we shouldn't be messing with these birds. Maybe they're here for a reason. 'Right,' she says. 'This is a bird prison. These birds are doing time.' I said, Well maybe they belong to the store owner or something. I mean, how did they all get in there? What are they doing in there? They didn't all fly down the chimney."

The shoe store has a chimney?

"No, it doesn't have a chimney. I don't know. That's not the point."

What's the point? Tell me.

"What other point do you need? Think about this. Think slowly. This is like. I don't even know what it's like."

I just don't see where you're going with this. What happened? What did you do?

"Well, we got in an argument. Jennie wants to get the birds out of the place, rescue the birds. I want to leave them alone. I would be content to sit there. I mean, just sit and look at them. Think about it. If you find birds in a shoe store, you'd want to look at them for a minute, right? I mean, you'd at least not try to get them out. Not mess it all up. Right?"

I have no idea.

"You know what it's like? Being in there and all? It was like I was filled with birds, too. I mean, like I was the shoe store and I was the one filled with these birds."

Oh yeah? And what does something like that feel like? What does it feel like to be filled up with birds?

"Like everything. It feels like everything all at once. Like the birds are everything and you're full of them, so youíre full of everything."

I donít know what that means.

"I know."

So whatíd you do?

"I left. Jennie decided to stay and help the birds."

What, you left her there?

"What else was I gonna do? I wasn't gonna help her get these birds out when it was pretty clear that we shouldn't be messing around with them. And she wasn't going to leave. She barely even noticed I was there anymore. What could I do? Stand around and wait for the police to get there? So fuck it, I left her there."

Well, then what? Have you talked to her?

"I haven't seen her today. No."

So...what, she could be in jail or something.

"Sheídíve called me if she went to jail. No, I don't know. I'm sure she gave up eventually and left. I'm sure she gave up and went home. Eventually. It was pretty clear to me that those birds didn't want to go anywhere."

Howís that?

"I donít know. I canít explain. Itís just a feeling. You had to be in my shoes. You had to be in that shoe store, and then youíd know how you felt."

You think so?


Brendan McKennedy is a 25-year-old student in Nashville, Tennessee. His stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Conversely, and The Story Garden. You can find these links and his e-mail address here.

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