Early yesterday morning I went to get a haircut. Normally I’d take the bus home, but I figured I would walk, because it was a nice day- and more importantly, I had Pokemon to catch.
As I was walking past Whitworth Park in South Manchester, my keen Pokemon-trainer senses spotted something.
Was it another Pidgeot? A rare grass Pokemon? A Pikachu, finally?
No. It was a magpie. It was lying on its back, twitching, gasping, and blinking furiously.
I stopped, unsure of what to do. I could leave it alone, leave it to die, and carry on home. But would that suffering magpie plague my thoughts? Would I be able to sleep knowing I had abandoned it?
There were some road-workers nearby, chatting about football. I approached them, full of the confidence that only a new haircut can bring.
“Could I ask a favour -and feel free to tell me to f*ck off here- but there’s a dying magpie over there, could I borrow a shovel and put it out of its misery?”
They looked back and forth between each other, unsure if I was joking.
“I’m just not sure if I can leave it there.”
“Would it keep you up at night?” He was joking, but there was nothing mean about it.
“Yeah.” The ridiculousness of the situation burst upon me. “Bloody lovely day for it, isn’t it?” Everybody chuckled, and the first worker handed me his shovel. A huge thing, used for splitting tough ground near pavements.
It was bloody heavy.
“Maybe a normal shovel, yeah mate?” He pointed to their pile of tools. I nodded, and picked up a smaller shovel, the kind that anyone might use in their garden, and headed back to the magpie.
This was suddenly very real.
It had been a (morally) nice idea up until now, but now it was a real thing. I was going to put a dying animal out of its misery. I was going to kill a magpie with a shovel. Had I ever killed anything with my hands, except the occasional spider? Probably not.
I stood over the magpie, shovel in both hands, read to plunge the edge of the shovel blade into the magpie’s neck.
Just before I did, there was a voice.
“Maybe not there mate, maybe scoop him up and do it in the garden?”
Good idea. There would probably be blood.
Gingerly I slid the shovel under the magpie, apologising in a reassuring whisper as I did.
The magpie stood up.
It leapt off the shovel, ran around in a hobbling circle, then ran under the railings and into the park, turning defiantly and hissing at me through a wide open beak like a hard-to-catch Spearow.
It was fine.
It scuttled under a bush and was gone.
I returned the shovel to the workers, thanked them, and we wished each other a nice day as we fell apart with chuckles and grins.
I’d almost prematurely euthanized a perfectly healthy (if somewhat odd) magpie, stopped only by the last minute concern of a workman worried about getting blood on the pavement.
All because of Pokemon Go.