When I went to the library this evening at 5:30, I looked for the raven out back, in the car park. He wasn't anywhere that I could see, and so I strode on into the building, through the revolving door that they've opened so that its glass panels bisect its circular space and let some air into the stifling entrance hall, past the portrait of the bookseller "universally known as 'Maps,'" through the security turnstile and up the steps into the stacks. Here, there, to the books, to the photocopier, around the library I went, happy in the fact that the building isn't air-conditioned (or doesn't have its air-conditioning on, because the weather doesn't require it) and thus windows are open all over the place and a breeze can play through. I balanced out my books again (three returns; three check-outs; a constant total of five in my possession) and strode back out of the building.
And found the raven standing on the low wall that separates the front lawn from the parking area for bicycles.
I thought about walking up to him, to see what he would do, but I remembered his apparent fearlessness beside the walking couple yesterday. As I walked past him, much nearer than I'd gotten yesterday, I realized how big ravens' beaks are. He didn't flinch as I walked past. A few feathers in his crown were askew, giving him a slightly mad look. Genially mad, but mad nonetheless.
I looked back a couple of times as I walked away from him, along the wall on which he was still standing. The third time I looked back, he wasn't there: he'd hopped down and strutted right up to a couple who'd just left the building. He pecked at the man's shoe, looked up at them expectantly. The woman leaned down, brushing her thumb against two of her fingers, the way you do when you try to call a cat to you. The raven looked at her hand.
I turned around and kept going, saying to myself, that crazy bird.
And then, as I rounded the corner of the library's front, a woman ran past me toward the back corner of the library, where I'd seen the bird yesterday. "He's up here! He's up here!" she was calling to an older woman who was coming along the side of the building.
"Are you talking about that raven?" I asked them. They nodded. "Is he sick?" I asked. I've been wondering this since yesterday: does this bird have some kind of illness that makes it fearless?
"No," the older woman replied. "It's just got tamed, somehow. Someone must've been feeding him. He's had a good meal already today. But it's not good for him, see, because now he's in danger from everything else." They explained that he usually hangs about in the back of the library, and that he doesn't seem to be able to get much higher than a low wall's height; they nearly always see him just walking around down on the ground.
"Thanks for your interest!" they called back to me as I headed home, and as they headed to the front of the building to check on their bird.
If I go back tomorrow, I'll take my camera; I'm betting he's good at posing, too.