The Race of the Birdmen
by Harry S. Franklin
“Alright Kid, take a knee.”
Oh ya, the knee—here it comes. One knee sunk into the grass like a pushpin, one elbow effortlessly posed over the opposite knee, chin up, eyes inevitably squinting into the sun, and most importantly, a mask of complete innocence and surprise.
This time it’s serious. Coach has got his arms folded across his chest—a clear sign of his mood. This was going to be one of those man-to-man jobs; which wasn’t too bad considering man-to-man usually means one man does all the talking.
“Here’s the deal.” Coach was always giving someone the deal. “Seems to me, you’re not gettin it. Maybe you think you’ve got it all figured out?”
“Zip it—I’m just getting started. Now, I’ve seen plenty of kids like you—you’re a good enough kid—and I’m not just talking about playing ball. It’s a difficult age and all that—I get it. I remember what it’s like. I used to have all my shit figured out, and nobody could tell me nothing.” Coach was the only adult without a kid on the team, and he never talked to you like a dad; his language was considered “salty” by the dads—but nobody ever said that to his face.
“That’s why I’m gonna tell you something I guarantee you haven’t heard before. Maybe then you’ll see there’s still room inside that thick skull of yours to cram in a few more lessons.”
The mask of innocence quickly morphs into a look of disappointment as the kid shutters one eye in a prolonged wink into the sunlight.
“Ever hear of the Birdmen from Easter Island?”
“Is it a movie?”
“Ha! No, this story is too original for Hollywood. But I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of them; do you know why?”
“Because you made them up?”
“Nope, the Birdmen were real, so is Easter Island—it’s that one with all the creepy stone heads. But you probably haven’t heard of the people who carved those heads, because they’re all dead.”
An anthology of stories by Jonathan Maberry, William Lashner, Kelly Simmons, Gregory Frost and more. Published by Blackstone Audio, 2013
“The fall of noon.” That’s what Grandfather called it. I never really understood how noontime could actually fall, but he liked to say it that way. “Evening rises,” was another. “Morning booms,” he’d greet the day.
My childhood summers at Abasteron House by the sea were filled with colorful sunsets, juicy blackberries off the backyard vine, and sea-lavender abundant in my bedroom. Late at night, Grandfather would wake me and point to the window.
“See the waves shining under moony light. Observe! The shivering flakes of night.”
Poetic, yes, but Grandfather was a genealogist. He tracked family origins, tracing ancestry back through the centuries. He especially enjoyed the history of angels and demons; he spent his life teaching the evolution of their mythologies from primary cultures to the Age of Reason.
“Look, Davida,” he’d say sweetly. “The sea’s wind leaves ancient face prints on the windows. There. Do you see them?” I never saw any faces, just salt-caked streaks. My name is Davida Kipling Livingston and everybody called me Kip, except Grandfather.
“What were you dreaming, Davida? Did Duma protect you?”
Duma is the angel-prince of dreams and awarded the job of guarding us against nightmares.