Day 345: King of Birds

King of Birds
Matt Zurbo


Ali always went out on his Dad’s crayfish boat.
(Kid running after Dad, who is in fishing waders, stepping onto crayfish trawler, there is maybe two or three seagulls sitting on boat.)

It was a fascinating world.
(Kid looking through crayfish pot at crayfish.)

(Dolphin’s jumping out of water alongside boat as boy watches. There are seagulls trailing after boat.)

(Boat approaching huge clouds of storm. White towers on top, black under.)

There were lots of mussels to feed the birds.
At first they all looked alike, to Ali.
(Kid holding out his palm, with lump of mussel in it, to seagull, that is string at him.)

But they acted different. Ali noticed Snappy would snap.
(Kid holding mussel above his head. Other seagulls flying, one is wings in air, plucking food from hand.)

Newbie was young and brave.
(Seagull standing on kid’s held-high hand. Other hand a bit lower, has food.)

Grandma and Granddad were a couple.
They would attack everybody except Newbie.
(Tow seagulls on bow of boat, wings flapping, warding off other birds with call.)
Newbie must have been their child.

There were pacific gulls.
Oyster busters.
Pelicans, when some fish got caught in the pots.
Sea eagles!

Ali would see some birds fight,
others get bullied,
avoid each other,
some fall in love.
He couldn’t believe it! There was a community out there, that everybody he knew saw, yet didn’t, not really…

Sometimes it felt like Ali just had to wave his hands, and he was King of Birds!
(Side on of boat, kid, hand in air, Newbie sitting on it. Other seagulls all circling, fighting, sitting on boar rails. Pelicans in the water, pacific gulls gliding, chasing each other.)

(Front on of kid on deck while Dad works. Kid’s head is tilted back, his hands in the air in victory/celebration. Birds everywhere.)

Then, just on winter, Ali’s dad had an accident.
(Ali on deck, looking on as rope for craypot loops around Dad’s ankle, pulling him backwards, off boat, into water.)
“No!” Ali cried.

His swore he’d never work on the ocean again.
(Dad being pulled up on deck. Water coming from mouth.)

Ali missed the birds a lot.
(Kid looking out window at ocean, tears on cheeks.)

It was horrible.
(Kid looking up at birds, way high, ignoring him. Cluster of other kids riding and running by.)

Like there was another world out there, he was no longer a part of.
(Sitting in class, brooding, a distant bird or two in the background.)

And others refused to understand.
(Kid holding up food in park. Birds staying away as other kids laughing and pointing.)

“Then do something about it,” a voice inside him said.
(Kid, walking with purpose.)

Nobody else got it, but Ali was determined.
(Kid, sitting on grass, tying wooden pallet to fisherman’s floats. Sister, arms on hips, watching.)

(Kid standing, back to us, surrounded by lazing fishermen in their yard, tides board, and pressure chart pinned behind them. One is talking to him, animated, pointing to chart.)

(Man out back of abalone processing plant, white apron and gumboots, pouring burley into kid’s bucket. Kid wincing from the smell.)

Ali was worried. “Will they just want the food, or remember me?” he stressed. “Will I even recognise any of them?”
(Kid on raft, tied to post in still water of the bay, bucket beside him.)

(Kid holding up burly, seagulls starting to gather. A pelican is in background.)

(Kid still holding up burley, ignoring seagulls everywhere. Pacific gull standing on raft, birds all into and fighting over bucket with burly in it.)

“NEWBIE!” Ali cried.
(Bird about to land on kid’s hand.)

(Bird standing calmly on kid’s hand. Kid smiling hugely, other birds flying everywhere, pacific gull chasing seagulls, pelican eating burly on raft. Small love heart rising from kid.)



The End.






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