The Alourdes Street lion sleeps under the bridge with a flock of pigeons that think he's a bird. That's okay, the lion thinks he's a bird, too.
Every morning, he shakes himself awake and the dozens of pigeons that had been perched, sleeping all over him, coo indignantly and take to the air and settle on the nearest electric wire. The lion yawns and stretches all of himself, saving his giant wings for last. His wings are tawny and scraggly and full of tiny bugs the pigeons like to eat. Some of the feathers are loose; since the lion has no beak, he can't preen them out properly. But that, too, is okay, since later on the pigeons will do this job for him.
When he's done waking up, he'll lope heavily alongside the road (scaring drivers who aren't used to him. The lion has caused car crashes before) and, with a few strong wing beats, he'll lift himself into the air, and the pigeons will join him.
Everything about the Alourdes lion is heavy. He's not a fat lion, but he gives the the impression of great weight. When he walks, he lumbers. When he runs, he lopes. He doesn't step, he trods.
But when he is in the air, he's more liquid than lion and as graceful as any bird, and in fact more graceful that the pigeons, who are fat on city pickings and awkward birds anyways.
Nobody can catch the Alourdes lion, though animal control has tried. Every day, they get calls from people about the lion:
"Alourdes is digging around my trash bins again!"
"The lion is in my garden!"
"There's a winged lion chasing my dog!"
The worst is when the lion decides to fall asleep on top of people's cars. Parking lots are clear of trees, and the sun heats up car tops to perfect sunning temperature. Then people are afraid to go to their cars, and parking lots get jammed.
Every day they pack up their trucks and go looking for him. That's when Alourdes proves himself to be more cat-like than anyone could have thought, because he manages to disappear whenever animal control is on their way. They've never seen him, but they've seen his droppings and the dent he makes in people's cars and fallen feathers he leaves behind.
Though Alourdes has been known to eat possums, raccoons, squirrels, and rats, he'd much rather eat a bag of leftover McDonalds out of somebody's garbage cans, and one of the surefire ways of gaining his affection (temporary as it may be) is to toss him unwrapped hamburgers. He chases dogs, and will bat them around if he catches them, but he's never killed one before. And housecats are the only things aside from the pigeons who can boss Alourdes around.
Often, before they're old enough to know how to be afraid, children meet Alourdes on their way to school or coming home and dare each other to pet him. Alourdes is fine with that. Some kids throw rocks or poke him with sticks. Instead of getting angry, Alourdes will yawn, fan open his wings, and take off to somewhere where he won't be disturbed.
The only time Alourdes has ever hurt a human being was when Jean-Emmanuel went to the bridge to lure Alourdes out. Jean-Emmanuel was young and stupid and he'd heard that someone would pay good money to whoever could cut off the lion's wings, though later on he wouldn't be able to remember where he'd heard it from. He went in with a shotgun, a long knife, and a bag full of hamburgers and french fries while his friends waited outside with nets. When Jean tossed the bag on the ground, all of Alourdes' flock flew down, pecking at the fries while Alourdes himself went after the burgers. Jean-Emmanuel aimed and fired, but as he did, a pigeon flew up into the path of the bullet and splattered. Alourdes was furious.
Though Jean's friends tried to help him, Alourdes clawed and bit Jean-Emmanuel badly and, when that wasn't enough, he took Jean-Emmanuel in his mouth by the waist of his pants and flew away with him. Jean-Emmanuel's friends chased them all around the city, and as they went more and more people joined in, all calling for Alourdes to please drop the man. It wasn't until an hour after that Alourdes finally relented and dropped Jean-Emmanuel in the public pool where his friends fished him out and an ambulance was already waiting.
"The pigeons!" Jean-Emmanuel shrieked when he could finally speak again. "Don't touch his pigeons!"
And while some people were frightened, most who knew him, now confident that Jean-Emmanuel was alright, told him that all that had happened to him was his own fault. Only a fool goes into the den of a lion uninvited, they said.