I sat at the table in the park alone. I had to be quick or I’d get in trouble. There was no one around, so I was being responsible-ish, but this was officially loitering and I’d heard the police were stopping and questioning people in the park. One woman and her kids were out exercising (a walk was within the rules) and they stopped to skim some stones across the surface of the lake. The police were on them in seconds. Executed, I think. Or perhaps deported, because someone had survived to tell the tale, after all.
The noises of the road and those of nature blended together. A random car. The sound of the waters gently lapping up against the lake’s shore. The flock of corellas that had settled back into the park. All the noises reached me and brought with them a sense of peace. I had been surprised to see the corellas. They had stripped this park bare a few years back. Most had left, some had splintered into smaller flocks. A bunch were killed when someone poisoned them. I read an article pinned to a local vet’s corkboard, where outraged citizens shrieked out, “Why would somebody do this?” and my first thought was, “I fuckin’ know why somebody did this”. The bloody things had nearly killed all of the trees, they shat on everything for a block east and west of the park and they were so goddamned noisy. They’d swept like a virus through the community. Until they were stopped.
I opened the crisp paper bag in front of me and removed the two containers. Chicken and sweet corn soup and salt and pepper squid.
At the sound of the bag and the opening of the containers, the heads of a small army of seagulls turned my way. Now they had a dilemma. Two ten year old boys had ridden their bikes into the park and brought with them hot chips. Seagull heads whipped back and forth.
But then… Squid?
They could smell the fishiness.
Several of the little bastards broke away from the troop in the hope that I would be as generous as the chip boys.
They surrounded my table making little questioning sounds.
“Nah, mate. Mine.”
“Squa-aark…” That one wasn’t a question and sounded a little sad.
One of them glided up to the table and cocked his head at me, looking at me with one eye.
“Let me ask you something,” I said. “How do you feel about being related to dinosaurs?”
He let out a low disapproving sound, turned his head all the way around so that he could look at me with the other eye and then turned away completely.
He hopped off the table, fluttered down to the ground and walked off to the boys with the chips.
From the ground another seagull looked up at me and made a noise, shaking its head.
“Was it something I said?”