Thursday 30 July 2020

The Seagull Man

by Maxine Churchman

dark rum and coke

Tall and thin, he walked confidently along the seafront, seagulls screeching mournfully as they circled his head. 
He wore a thick woolly hat, even though the summer sun was hot. The bony tips of his angular elbows, protruding through holes in his sleeves, were red as though embarrassed to be in view. His gait was light and unhurried; the stones hardly moved beneath his worn shoes.

Gulls large and small, some with their youthful brown colouring, landed by his feet and kept pace with him, their eyes watching each other and the plastic bag dangling from his hand. One particularly large gull landed on his shoulder, his slight frame dipping a little under its weight.
Squabbles broke out on the ground, with beaks jabbing and feathers flying. The man kept smiling and the bird on his shoulder seemed unconcerned.
When they reached the edge of the sea, he stopped and opened the bag. The noise of the birds grew in anticipation of a feast. More scuffles broke out. Still, the largest bird of all stayed on the man’s shoulder. At last the man upturned the bag, shaking out crumbs and crusts of bread and other tasty morsels. Some were scooped up in mid-air; some were snatched by smaller nimbler gulls on the periphery on the main action, darting in and out before the deadly beaks of the larger gulls could impale them. And still, the king of the seagulls perched on the man’s shoulder.
The man looked at the bird and brought the back of his hand up to its white chest, smoothing down the feathers and cooing to it like a lover. As the last crumbs were snapped up by the eager feeders, the bird stretched its neck, opened its beak wide and called its familiar refrain. All the other birds flew into the air as if of one mind. The man stretched his arms wide and three of the largest gulls joined the one on his shoulder: two stood on each side. The birds rose into the air slowly, lifting the man and carrying him over the sea and away.
Where he is now?
I have walked along the seafront on numerous occasions but, I haven’t seen him since.

About the author

Maxine Churchman is from Essex UK. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, yoga and more recently writing. So far she has concentrated on short stories, but hopes to make progress on a Novel in 2020.

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