The various hawk species making themselves at home in Ron Gibraltar’s living room, and speaking with him in some kind of hawk language that the authorities said resembled a complex arrangement of yips one might come to equate with members of the coyote family, resembled a street gang in its down time. He’d been coined a kind of hawk whisperer by the local tabloids who compared him to a modern synthesis of both Saint Francis and Grizzly Adams. Which is why when the hawks started suddenly dying, began falling off curtain rods and not getting up, Ron was labeled a raptor killer without sufficient investigation. I later saw Ron, once a hometown token, walking down the street with his hat pulled down over his face. He was unrecognizable. I ran across the street and asked him how he was doing. “Wanna quote from the red-tailed murderer?” he said. “Is that what they’re calling you now?” I said. “Lately, it’s the Goshawk guillotiner,” he said. “There’s alliteration there,” I said. “So, there is,” he said. “How’d they die?” I said. “Too many hugs,” he said. “Good talk. See you, Ron” I said. Then I jogged home. All night I thought about how hugging a hawk might kill it. That’s when I realized Ron was being evasive with me. And yet still I couldn’t help but think Ron had been set up. Something didn’t add up. But it wasn’t my place. Then I heard a loud screech coming from the pantry. I opened it. A large red-tailed hawk was staring at me from the pasta shelf. “You think that’s loud,” it said. A few minutes later I realized it was talking to me. “How can this be?” I said. “Quite the thing, isn’t it?” it said. “It’s unbelievable,” I said. “But I gotta know. Was what happened with Ron real? Did a bunch of you hawks really die, and was Ron responsible?” “No, no, and no,” it said. “What about the hawks in the paper?” I said. “Fakes,” it said. “And the police?” I said. “Also fakes,” it said. “And Ron?” I said. “A hawk,” it said. “Well, that explains it,” I said. “That’s a wrap,” it said. After speaking to the hawk in the pantry for hours it was clear the hawks were running the town and had all sorts of methods for creating the appearance of there being everyday ordinary human goings on in it. I pinched my arm to make sure I wasn’t a hawk. But some feathers came out. We were all hawks. But I didn’t agree with the ethics of my own kind. That’s when it came to me. I caught a mouse with my teeth (beak actually) and dropped it in the middle of main street, and everyone, including Ron came scampering. Margaret Miller showed her true feathers when she tried to use her talons to throw a rock at it. And Patty Kerplinket, don’t even get me started on The Patster. She flew up above the post office and started surveying the area like a drone, when a strong gust of wind blew her off her thermal and she crashed into Kirk Ekstrom who was getting ice cream with his kids. She blamed Kirk for not catching her. I guess the point is I now knew how they could be controlled, how they could be put off balance. With my secret knowledge I wrote a book about my experiences with the hawks and travelled the world giving lectures on how to be one with them. I flew all over the east and west, all over the north and the south. I flew everywhere. After I died, they, some hawks I think, awarded me a Pulitzer, and you know, that felt really good. I mean REALLY good. Because I was dead. But dead is different than gone.
By Chris Russell
Chris Russell’s poems have appeared in Mouse Tales Press, The Cafe Review, The Poet's Touchstone, Centripetal and Slope Magazine. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where, when not writing, drawing, or playing video games, he follows a calling as a Special Education Paraprofessional.View all of Chris Russell's posts.