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  • Writer's picturePete O'Brien

Zoom Birds

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

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Zoom Birds

by Pete O'Brien

"So you mean to tell me, another day has gone by, and you're back at your desk, Sir Writer, struggling to find anything to tell, and thinking to yourself that the only way you'll get a thing done is if you do one page single spaced today, and then in another week, finish her off with another page, and then post it on your blog and media channels. You mean to say, that unless you publish immediately you feel as though the writing, nay, that's not the way to put it, you don't feel as though, it is that you simply can't write the thing that shall go in your book any other way. And what appears on your blog will later one day, when there is enough posted there, will show up in a book that you offer for sale, and."

"Alas! You speak too long Thunderblast!" For so I decided to call this fine fellow Thunderblast, who was a knave with words. And why not? I am after all the decider, as noted by somebody last week.

But no! This little bit of an introduction ensured me nothing! I had taken a long walk, not realizing how long it was, and how much tick land it would take me through. A summer's day five pounds lost only to be put right back on again at dinner! I noted to myself that I was more than capable of consuming five pounds of sup at a time. You see, I'd intended to lose some pounds; hence the walk. And lose them I did. Oi! But I already told you. What was Thunderblast doing with his binoculars?

"What, pray, Thunderblast, are you doing with your binoculars? What sight do you see, that you will be able to describe to me, maybe, that I might, maybe, put it in my one page of daring this day, as I do no more fear the. But I shan't finish. Or even put a dash. I'll just conclude where I began, being Sir Writer is hard you know, and whatever do you spy through your binoculars, which being old, are probably a far superior pair to most that you might pay to own today! No matter! What, pray, do you see, dear Thunderblast! I charge thee! Even with this sort of false elite phraseology! Speak!"

"Birds!" declared he.

And birds there were in the distance; this I too discerned, but not having the binoculars in hand, so, so.

"Birds!" he bellowed again. "A kingfisher this morning where the kingfisher dwells. A turtle next in turtle habitat on a log in the stream, though not a bird. And now this the parting flight of most possibly a bald eagle! Confounded!"

Hmm, I thought. Strange for but one bird to be stated at the start so boisterously, only to be the predecessor to the addendum of a turtle, and then a bald eagle, of such that I myself had guessed it might have been. And as the fellow stated, flying away withal. So prithee, or so please me, it went, or whatsit, not.

"Stop sounding like a false high stationed wobbler!" uttered Thunderblast. The man was reading my thoughts. He had the ability? No. But he could tell I was thinking, and had no trouble guessing at the queer phraseology I was using, as it twisted my lips to think this way, but it was important to stay on topic.

"Birds!" cried Thunderblast again, this time though he flashed his head around, winked, and eyed me keenly with a note of mischief in his countenance. Clearly he had hoped to make me jump with his sudden cry.

But I was not in the least taken in a startledom, and swiftly then he turned away, though I admit I couldn't help but think to meself, by Hollychum! I am onto the second page already! I can feel it in my numbers and letters!

"Thunderblast!" I roared. "Let's have tea!"

But he paid me no mind. The birds had sucked him in. The binoculars had become part of his noodle and his head, his eyes, nose, cheeks, and jaw all lost in this device of metal and plastic and glass and oil.

I noticed the change at once, and so too did the sun dart behind a thunderhead in the sky.

"Thunderblast!" I cried. "Your binoculars have become a part of you, and no mistake! Leave off with the birds! You're in a fix, I can be sure, and if you don't manage to lose that tool of keen vision, you and I are liable never to have tea! And you are liable never to have tea with anyone ever again! Or even tea on your own, in solitude, at a high table or a low one! With berries!!!"

The ideas kept coming. I had to admit, the situation was grave. Thunderblast was in grave danger, and my horrible manner of speech couldn't be denied either! The man must be saved! But the binoculars had meshed and molded into his large round head, like they were of the same clay, and very much as though they were clay! What could I do! No tea! That was certain. I had to think very cleverly, on this hot, sultry, summer's day, when there were birds here in and there, and a breeze now and again. It was tragical! I shed a tear.

And Thunderblast turned and said, "Sir Writer, I am most sorry, but my dear Leopold, it is quite certain that I will be affixed to the binoculars from this day on. I see birds right and left. One must accept what comes. Why don't you tell me a story? It shall help me grow accustomed to the new state of affairs, and to all the birds I see close up, no matter how far away they are. Not to mention the double circle vision that I see, which is like an eight filled in, in the manner of the lenses that focus in and out on things in the distance. What is there to say to someone like me, in this most singular situation in which I find myself, eh?"

He had put it well indeed. I sighed. I looked about the woods. We stood on the edge of a stream, in a park surrounded by suburbia. I had known Thunderblast a long time. I had known him since the day he first called me Sir Writer. But my mind fogged at the thought. How long had I known Thunderblast really? And wasn't his name Walter J.? Clearly I was Leopold, and no mistake. But then?

I stepped forward and put my hand on Walter's shoulder. "You know," I said, "No matter what happens, no matter if we have just made it onto a third page or what, you and I will always be buddies capable of sitting down to tea. I had thought we could do so today. And we have seen birds. I should like to describe them, but in a way you mightn't expect, as I'm quite sure I couldn't describe them any other way than chums."

Walter shook his head.

"Once upon a time," I said, "there lived a small house. Wait. That's a mistake. I mean there lived a small man in a house the size of a tree. Wait. That's difficult. A man lived in a house. No. I don't like that beginning."

Walter nodded. "I like that one," he said. "Go on."

A light breeze blew. I looked past Walter, to the thorny hill.

"Whatever we are, whoever we wish to be, the man in the house stands in the middle. And the sun rises and sets, and people mill around. They count things, they move things around, they travel from here to there. And the birds of blue and white and gray dance in the sky. Cats run around. Deer stand and chew the leaves. A man looks through binoculars to consider the birds. His name is Walter. He stands in the rain, he stands in the sun, he knows what there is. The sky is a pale glow. What is there to know? What lies beyond the next hill? Footsteps. Footsteps."

Walter wrestled the binoculars from his body, and his body zip flashed into a nuthatch or a wren, and wink blasted, quill gummied, up the sky, down a tree, invisibly through the oceans in a breath. I thought I witnessed it.

But I was just looking at the birds.


"Zoom Birds" © July 31, 2023 by Pete O'Brien. All Rights Reserved. "Zoom Birds" is a work of fiction. Any correspondences of story characters and events to actual people or events is coincidental, or they are used fictitiously.

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