WINGS OPENED WIDE
My grandson reads me his report. Pronounces it fancy, “Farallones Marine Sanctuary.” I laugh, cuz he’s nervous, knows I’ve got my own ideas. He starts in to telling me all the names: gulls, murres, cormorants, auklets, pelicans, shearwaters, diving Brown Boobies. I laugh at that one too, but try not to let him see.
I’m all for this conservation stuff, but find it hard to believe they was ever hurting, those birds. In my days out there, that’s all there was, all I saw day in day out…birds, birds and more birds.
“Grandpa, it’s one of the most sensitive marine environments on earth!”
“Oh, go ahead! Fine work, boy. Fine work!” I say, and scootch him into the kitchen to get a cookie.
My nose starts twitching, just thinking again of that freezing pile of fish stinking, bird-crapped rocks. Navy had me stationed me out there,’40-’42. I ran a secret radar station for them. There was only a few of us that first year.
We kept the lighthouse on, foghorns working, the radio beacon going. That is, when we weren’t reading, playing canasta and hunting rabbits, and of course, fishing. Coast Guard ship came once a week from ‘Frisco to drop off food and supplies. I just about burst every time I’d hear them cutting in through the fog.
Twenty-six miles of open ocean between us, and like I said, foggy most of the time, but late fall and winter, the air crisped up and there it was, the great city, alive, like we could touch it. The nights with the moon full were the worst, could almost hear the parties coming down off the hills.
After Pearl, we were all itchy and red triggered. Thought I saw periscopes every time I scanned the horizon. Found out later that Imazato had tucked into the channel, had surfaced to charge batteries, and joked to his crew that it would be a good time to visit the famous city of San Francisco.
When they started in with the blackouts there was nothing left to see. Just the silhouettes of sharp edged birds, protecting their eggs, wings opened wide and beating back against the cold west wind.
Doug Bond’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in: Used Furniture Review, Necessary Fiction, Metazen, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Additional written words of his and links to social media can be found here: http://www.dougbond.me