Since reading ‘The Odyssey’, Les the pigeon had found that other pigeons had started treating him differently. He had originally hoped that it might offer him something of a conversational wildcard, but unfortunately it had transpired that attempting to integrate it into conversation only served to highlight the fact that very few pigeons had ever bothered to read a book. “It’s an ancient classic!” Les would protest. “Fundamental to the modern Western canon!”
“Shut up Les.” Said the other pigeons.
Les had remarkably once met another pigeon who had read The Odyssey, but it proved to be a fruitless encounter. “You’ve read the Odyssey too?!” Cooed Les, excitedly. “What did you think?”
“It was boring and implausable.” Said the other pigeon. “Nobody could shoot an arrow through a dozen axe heads, that’s ridiculous. I never want to read it again.”
Les had attempted to engage in further debate on the book with this pigeon, keen not to waste this chance meeting with a fellow scholar, but the pigeon had refused. “What did you think of the portrayal of the relationship between gods and men in the book?” He asked, desperately.
“I don’t care.” The pigeon had said, before getting back to wandering about in a state of pigeon known as ‘mildly inflated pigeon’.
Les sometimes wondered why he’d bothered ever reading The Odyssey. It was a warm summer’s day when he’d found it, abandoned on the grass in a park near Charing Cross station. Having some time on his hands, he’d stood and read it in its entirety, as baffled commuters walked past, intrigued to see a pigeon turning the pages of a book, but too busy to stop and find out why. He’d found the whole thing fascinating, the kind of book that had inspired him to want to read more, but as of yet, he hadn’t had chance. There had been times when he’d attempted to sneak up on an individual as they were sat on a bench, but they would invariably shoo him away once he was stopped, or else leave well before the book had finished. There had been no such repeats of the abandoned book incident. It was a rarity on the streets, a once in a lifetime opportunity, Les had resigned himself to this. He was at least thankful that the book he got to read was such a timeless classic, and not something like an unauthorised biography of Donald Trump.
Les was nibbling away at a slice of bread one day (he’d been nibbling away at this slice for over two hours now, and had seemingly not taken a single bite), when he was startled by a child running towards him at pace. Les, like all pigeons, hated it when children ran towards him. Not because he was afraid that they might hurt him, but because like the vast majority of creatures on the planet, Les found children intensely annoying. Without looking, he took off and flew away. He was however, startled to see that his surroundings were not the usual blues or greys he’d come to expect of the world. These surroundings were more of a pale green kind of colour. The world suddenly had boundaries, cluster, more wood. Les continued to flutter about, ignoring the sounds of people calling out below him. He took a perch on a shelf nearby. “Where am I?” He wondered. This wasn’t the world he’d come to know.
“Psst!” Said a voice, nearby. Les turned around, and saw another pigeon, sat in a tiny cavern. “This way!”
Les flew down and followed the pigeon. Together they slowly padded away into a silent area of this new world. “Who are you?” Asked Les.
“I’m Karen.” Said the pigeon, quietly. “And keep your voice down. We’ve got to be quiet.”
“Where are we?” Asked Les.
“It’s a library.” Said Karen.
“What’s a library?” Asked Les, unaware of the term, since it had not cropped up in The Odyssey.
“It’s a place full of books.” Said Karen.
“Do they have a book called The Iliad?” Asked Les, hopefully.
“It’s my favourite book. Let me show you where it is.” Replied Karen, smiling as much as it was possible for a pigeon to smile. And so it was that Les and Karen fluttered off to the mythology section, as happy as two pigeons could ever be.