THE BIRDMAN OF COURVILLE

by Talleen Hacikyan

Jenna Moran folds a black paper footprint into an Origami crane. On its wing she writes, Open and the truth will unfold. She tucks the hand-sized bird into a yellow envelope lined with plastic bubbles. She mails it to Adrian Berkett.

Five days later, a prison guard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, brings that envelope to Adrian’s cell in Block D of Courville State Penitentiary. Inside the envelope Adrian finds a paper bird. He unfolds it. A tiny footprint appears. There is a space between the big toe and the four dots of toes. Below a smudged heel he reads, Shawn Peter Moran--six weeks old.

On the flip side, there’s a letter written by Jenna. She explains that Shawn is Adrian’s son. After the initial shock subsides, Adrian is not sure how the news makes him feel.

One thing is for sure. The bird helps Adrian kill time. He spends hours studying its folds and learns how to make a crane. Then he creates other species. His favorite are the miniature silver birds folded from cigarette paper: a flock of aluminum seagulls.

Hardly a month passes; Adrian has made four-hundred fourty-two birds. He suspends them with thread from the ceiling in his cell. On the ninth day he finishes. That night he lays on his cot and after staring at them for a while he blows in their direction. After a few still seconds they start twirling in place.

talleen hacikyan