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Excerpt for My One Legged Friend by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

My One Legged Friend


Angela Hope


Smashwords Edition


Copyright 2018 Angela Hope




There I was sitting in my car, eating a sandwich, watching the ocean beat against the rocks, when a seagull landed on the bonnet of my car.

There was a small limestone wall in front of me, but did this gull want to land on a wall? No!

His small black eyes stared straight at me!

My first instinct was to shoo him away. Who wants bird poo or scratches on their car? I don’t!

As I stared back I noticed the poor bird only had one leg. At first, I thought he had just tucked it up, but no! One leg was all he had.

I wonder how that happened. He seems to be managing okay. I suppose you just get used to being without it and get on with life.

Then, to my dismay I noticed, wrapped around his good leg was a length of fishing wire.

“Oh my goodness, what should I do?” I said to myself. “If I try and catch him he’ll fly away. If he flies away I can’t help him and he will lose his one and only leg.”

I slowly opened the car window and carefully threw out a small piece of bread. Hoping it would fall next to the bird. Instead, the wind blew and the bread fell to the ground. Instantly he took off into the air, swooped onto the bread, then onto the wall.

Within seconds we were surrounded by squawking seagulls all hoping for a piece of my sandwich.

“Oh dear, this isn’t good,” I said to myself. “How on earth can I help this poor seagull?”

I had only made one sandwich and I’d eaten half of it already.

He was still staring at me from the wall; at least I think he was staring at me. Maybe he could see his reflection in the windscreen. If that was the case I might be in with a chance of catching him.

Taking a small piece of crust from my remaining sandwich I placed it on the dashboard inside the car. I was hoping he would want to take a closer look. Seagulls are always hungry, aren’t they?

I was right. The seagull flew back onto the bonnet of my car landing on his one good leg. He had spotted the bread but also was fascinated by his reflection so, came closer to the windscreen.

He pecked at the glass and puffed out his feathers, watching himself whilst trying to get the food. Then he must have caught sight of me and tried to take off into the air, but the fishing wire got entangled on the left windscreen wiper.

He flapped his wings and squawked but was unable to go anywhere. He was stuck fast. The flapping of his wings frightened the other birds away so I quickly opened my car door and got out. I talked to the terrified bird as I grabbed hold of his body. “It’s okay I’m not going to harm you. I want to help you if I can.”

To my surprise, he didn’t peck my hands. I thought the shock had killed the poor thing as his body went limp and seemed to relax.

A young lady walking her dog stopped and asked if everything was alright.

“I could use some help,” I said. “This poor bird will lose his one and only leg if I don’t get this fishing line off him. I don’t suppose you’d have any nail scissors in your handbag?” I asked.

“I may have,” she said as she struggled to keep control of her dog, a young English Bull Dog that pulled on his lead, trying to chase the seagulls. The lead was getting tangled around the now open handbag and the contents tipped out over the floor.

As luck would have it she produced a small pair of scissors.

“Perfect!” I said far louder than was necessary, sending the bird into panic once again. I held on tightly and murmured “Okay it’s okay, I won’t hurt you.”

The flapping sent her dog into barking mode.

“Trevor! Stop that!” yelled the young lady as she tried in vain to control the excited puppy. She was now on all fours gathering up the items from her bag.

Trevor was wagging his tail and obviously thought his owner was playing a game with him.

Oh dear, what a stressful situation this was turning out to be!

Finally, in a commanding voice, she said: “Sit Trevor!” Trevor sat and waited for his reward looking very pleased with himself for obeying a command.

The young lady closed her bag before saying “Good boy Trevor!” and patting him on his head.

Meanwhile, the bird looked as if he had given up, as I held onto his warm body, his leg still trapped by the fishing wire, his eyes closed.

Speaking quietly I said to the young lady: “Do you think you can cut the fishing wire if I keep him still?” She hesitated at first saying “I’m afraid I might hurt him.”

A few people had stopped to see what was going on.

“Would you mind holding onto Trevor’s lead?” she asked a little girl who was watching with her parents. The child was delighted and happily took the lead to play with the puppy.

Now free to help, she leaned across me, with the small scissors. Carefully, she managed to cut and remove the fishing wire from around my windscreen wiper, as well as the bird’s leg.

What a relief that was. Even I wasn’t sure those small scissors would do the trick.

I checked his leg, kissed him gently on his head then, loosened my grip on its body.

What a surprise, when instead of taking off, he shook his feathers and looked me in the eye, before pecking at the reflection of bread on the inside of the windscreen.

I quickly reached inside, took the piece of bread and offered it to the hungry bird.

No hesitation, he snatched the bread from my fingers and swallowed before flying to the wall.

Trevor also wanted a treat. I stroked his head and neck, told him he was a good dog and gave him the last piece of my sandwich.

The young lady thanked the little girl for playing with the puppy before continuing their stroll along the foreshore.

I got back into my car, sitting for a few moments watching the one-legged seagull. How lucky we were, without the scissors, this seagull would most definitely have lost his other leg and died.

It had been a very good morning. As I drove away I looked in the mirror and the seagull had gone. I do hope I’ll see him again.

***

The following day I took my lunch to the same parking space.

I ate my sandwich first this time. Then I opened the window and threw out some bread.

So many seagulls suddenly appeared squawking and flapping their wings. I searched for the one-legged bird but couldn’t see him. Suddenly he was on the bonnet of my car staring at me through the windscreen. I wondered if he remembered me. I think he did.

I had cut up plenty of bread this morning, so took out a square, held my arm out of the window to see if he would take it from me. Instead of taking it gently, he flew at it knocking it out of my hand. Lots of noisy seagulls surrounded my car all wanting to be fed.

My one legged friend immediately took on his aggressive stance and his loud squawk said “Leave it. It’s MINE!” as he angrily chased them away fluffing out his feathers with neck stretched out as far as it could go.

He got the bread, swallowed it then charged at the birds that had been waiting patiently for something to eat. “Get out of here!” he said. They took off into the air and back down again hoping not to go without.

They were lucky because I had brought plenty of food so none of them would go hungry. I got out of my car and went to sit on the bench close by.

The birds followed and I threw the contents of the bag onto the ground. Within seconds it was eaten and the seagulls flew away, they’d spotted another person willing to share their lunch.

A family sitting in a car a few spaces from mine had chips. A child in the rear seat threw a chip out of the window. All of the seagulls descended around that car including my one-legged friend, who was most definitely a bully. One by one he charged at the seagulls trying to be the first in line for whatever was thrown out of the window. An unwanted chip flew through the air and he was first to get it. He tried to swallow it whole. I could see the shape of the chip going down his neck, his beak wide open. How he managed to do that I don’t know. I just hope the chip wasn’t too hot.

It was time for me to go, so I walked back to my car.

I thought he was still eating chips but no, he was back on the wall as if he was waiting for me. I slowly crept closer to him. He didn’t fly away.

“I must be going now but I hope I’ll see you again,” I said.

I got back in my car and switched on the engine. As I drove away I could see him watching me in my rear view mirror.

***

A few days later I parked in the same space at the foreshore. I’d taken some stale bread as well as my sandwich just in case I needed it. I was hoping to see my one-legged friend but what were the chances of seeing him again?

I wasn’t disappointed as he was sitting on the wall, as I parked.

He stood up, stretched his body then flew from the wall onto the bonnet of my car. I can’t say I’m happy when he does that, I don’t want birds on my car but thought “Wow how amazing. Cars park here every day. Did this seagull actually recognize me?”

I got out of my car and walked to the bench with the seagull flying alongside me.

The sun was shining on the blue water. It was such a beautiful day.

As I sat on the bench I could feel the small black eyes staring at me just a step away from my foot. Speaking softly I said “Hello my one-legged friend. How are you today?” Taking a piece of my sandwich between my finger and thumb I slowly lowered my hand towards him. His beak snatched the bread.

So far the other seagulls hadn’t appeared and I was pleased about that. I wanted to eat my lunch without being surrounded by hungry birds.

Taking a bite of sandwich I looked up into the sky. I saw the brightly coloured sail of a paraglider falling gracefully through the clouds. He was coming down to land. It was as if I was watching him in slow motion. He made a perfect landing on the beach not far away from where I was sitting.

When I looked back, my one legged friend was sitting watching me, obviously waiting patiently for some of my sandwich. I whispered, “I’ll give you some bread but try and be quiet until I’ve eaten my lunch.”

I took bread from the bag and let it drop to the floor. Oh no! Somehow it caught the eye of another seagull. Within seconds I was surrounded by a dozen hungry birds.

It wasn’t long before all of my bread supply had been eaten.

I walked back to my car and opened the door. I took a deep breath of sea air then slowly exhaled, before getting inside and closing the door.

As I reversed out of the parking space I could see my one-legged friend sitting on the wall looking in my direction.

I’m convinced he recognized me, so I’ll try and come back again tomorrow.





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