Micah didn’t want to take Precious for a walk. It was Friday evening and he was tired. He didn’t know what was worse, commuting an hour to join the rat race or coming home to take his wife’s pomeranian for a walk. Out of a sense of duty and marital peace he leashed the yapping fur ball and headed to the park.
Seated at the bench at the far end of the park sat a man Micah saw often. Every evening at dusk he was positioned in the same place. Out of curiosity Micah and Precious left the main path and crossed the field toward the bench. As he got closer Micah noticed the man wore an oversized leather glove on his left hand.
“Evening,” said Micah. The man nodded back.
“You honoring Michael Jackson with that glove?” The man glared back at Micah. Precious jumped up and down, yapping at everything.
“It’s my wife’s dog,” said Micah apologetically. The man said nothing. He just stared off in the distance.
“If you don’t mind me asking…”
“Falconry,” said the man with a sigh.
“Really,” said Micah. He looked skyward. “Where is it?”
“Who, Xerxes? Don’t know. He’s on the hunt somewhere’s,” said the man.
“How long’ve you done this?”
“Since I was a kid. Picked it back up a few years ago. Got on disability and, well, needed to do somethin’,” said Ahab.
Ahab spotted Xerxes off in the distance. He looked through a pair of binoculars and swore. “No more fish,” he mumbled under his breath. “Stupid bird got a taste of fish, now I can’t get ‘em to hunt nothin’ else,” Ahab said to Micah.
A huge bird carrying a carp in his talon swooped silently onto Ahab’s gloved hand.
“It’s an owl,” said a shocked Micah. He was in awe of it’s imposing presence.
“A great horned owl,” said Ahab. He grabbed the fish and shook it at the bird. “No more fish,” he said before tossing it in a bag resting at his feet.
“What’s the bag for?”
“Haven’t paid for meat in six years,” said Ahab.
Micah grimaced. “You eat whatever he catches?”
“Yep. Squirrels, raccoons, possums, the occasional cat, but no more fish,” said Ahab. “I dumpster dive for everything else. Disability goes a lot further when you don’t have to pay for food.”
“That’s disgusting,” said Micah.
“Maybe,” said Ahab, releasing Xerxes into the gloaming, “but I wouldn’t trade it for the regular world. At least I live how I want.”
“I guess so,” said Micah as he started back toward home.
Ahab’s words haunted him. Micah wandered across the field absorbed in thought. He never even noticed the approaching owl. All he heard was the fading yap of a pomeranian.