The coots and the loons were at it again. Sniping, biting, roiling the clear waters that tumble out of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A real pair of birdbrains acting like a couple of bratty humans. Even the trash picking gulls were keeping their distance. Asses were getting bit, feathers plucked, and shit was forming into tight gray balls that looked like roly-poly pill bugs. A lot of it was piling up on the sand of Rio Del Mar beach.
According to the tawny owl, coots and humans have a great deal in common. He claims that it all stems from an inability to see the light, feel the groove, stretch out, and glide.
“It’s hard to believe how much shit can come out of one of those little coot assholes. Then, they swim in it. Walk in it, too. Got no respectable wing span to speak of. A lot like you humans. All that flapping leads nowhere but trouble.”
“Why do you always feel the need to rub it in?”
“If it swims like a duck, and waddles like a duck…
“If I was more qualified to judge, I would have to consider the possibility you are overcompensating for a deeply felt void. There’s a German word for it.”
“…but can’t hardly fly high at all…
“Or personal problems, perhaps. Humans can’t be the only ones with those.”
“…Can’t fly any higher than a sad sack chicken or a turkey…”
“You really don’t have to say it.”
“and shits like a coot…”
“Yes, I know…just like me and all of my dirt digging human buddies down here on the cold, hard gound.”
“You have to admit. No other animal needs all those gigantic pipes just to carry their own simple shit away.”
Then, he said, “Void, my ass.”
Naturally, the tawny owl preferred a loon over a coot. In a fair fight, a loon would win every time. But, coots are sneaky. Fair fights are not their style. Not eye to eye or face to face. A coot tends to sneak around to the rear and show a lot of ass. The tawny owl could only do the rotational thing he does with his head, neck, and eyes, in disgust.
I said, “I’m not trying to deny anything here.”
“Okay, but not that.”
He said, “It’s part of my responsibility as a raptor to be keepin’ it real.”
“Until you decide to fly away.”
“Well, like, yeah…duh.”
“There you go again with the sarcasm.”
“Nothing sarcastic about facts. Read your dictionary.””
“Did you ever think to consider those you are leaving behind?”
“I’m not stopping anybody. Why not see what happens? All you can do is fall.”
Then, with a chuckle, the tawny owl flew away. He had doffed a straw Panama hat with a wide brim. I knew that meant he was in the mood for carousing. His claws were sharp, and poised. His vision was perfectly aligned. He flew off in the direction of Cannery Row in Monterey, where he could hear fresh sardines flopping about on the rocks real low. There were always big doings going on somewhere in his domain. Every night, he claimed, extravaganzas with a cast of millions, not all of them stars, not by a long shot. Events in nearby galaxies made all the difference in the closer, nether worlds, he explained, but farther out where the spirals explode it became a lot trippier. You had to know how to soar at just the right height to mesh with the cosmic dust.
“It’s all inside your head,” the tawny owl would say, “And your tail.”
I know I have this problem with denial. Sometimes, it just seems easier to keep on keeping on. I can’t help but re-think a lot. What else am I supposed to do? If I knew what it was, maybe I could learn how. Even though that can get kind of scary, especially in the dark, on the ground. And hard, too. And I know that I will never be able to get there that high, wherever it could be, to play even a small bit part in the epic the tawny owl describes. But, does that mean I can’t participate from afar? Can’t I learn to feel, even if I can’t see, the vast cosmic dust, and imagine I’m a part of it? I don’t think that’s hoping for too much. Why can’t I attempt to get closer to these figure eights that are the building blocks of the multiverse that the tawny owl tells me are too much for my shell to withstand? And learn to rotate, without spinning. I’m always looking for a little self-improvement, am I not? I think I am. If not, then I don’t know what I’m doing. Or trying. I am afraid that the tawny owl may be right about that.
The tawny owl claims that all of his actions come naturally to him. He doesn’t have to try. I wonder what that feels like. He tells me I will never know. I’m sure he is right. I would have to as clueless as he thinks I am to deny that one.
Do you believe in letting bygones be bygones?
What happens when your bygones come back to bite you on the ass?