(This is Volume VII of the Seagull Saga. Volumes I through VI can be found in the Archives.)
Well, well, well. I was sloshing through the surf, looking for sharks’ teeth with little success, when I crossed paths with Jon Seagull. He didn’t acknowledge me at first, so I finished scanning the bed of fine shells not far from where he was perched.
“Hey, friend,” I said. “Where have you been?”
Jon was pensive. Startled, he flinched before answering. “Hey, Dharma. Been out practicing my flying techniques. Still seeking perfection.”
“We can’t all be perfect, Jon, but I don’t begrudge you your love of flight.”
“Perfect? What do you know of perfection?” Oh, no. Jon was in a prickly mood. I awaited further judgment. “You, bum, settle for searching for sharks’ teeth while most of your friends and family are out there pursuing the American dream.”
“Yeah, well, that’s their perogative. I salute them for it.”
“What is it with your obsession for finding ancient stones?”
“Gems, Jon. Sharks’ teeth are gems.”
“Gems? They’re virtually worthless by society’s standards.”
“Hey, who’s to say the way a man should spend his days? I don’t put you down for sea creature scavenging.”
“I scavenge to eat. My passion is flying.”
“My passions are hunting fossils and writing, and, by the way, I don’t judge myself by traditional societal standards. If I did, as Dylan sang, ‘the heart inside me would have died.’ You do a lot of flying Jon. Have you seen society lately? Have you taken a good look? The society of which you squawk is increasingly selfish and corrupt. Nobody cares about anyone else anymore. Nobody cares about the community as a whole. It’s every man for himself, every woman for herself.”
“That’s a generalization,” Jon said. “There are still other humans who are civic-minded and there are plenty of people out there who still care for their fellow humans.”
“So now you’re defending my peeps? Usually you just want to use them as bullseyes for your fecal matter.”
Jon laughed, then flew away. His technique was great — nearly perfect. It was beautiful to see him do what he does best.
That crazy seagull was right. There are plenty of people who still care. I’d been harsh.
I found a small tooth. Then another. I was leaning over to pick up a discarded plastic cup when Jon sailed swiftly overhead. He was riding a strong tailwind.
His high-pitched call pierced the damp air. “You wear martyrdom like a cheap suit.”