The old man chuckled to himself, watching a red-faced, overweight man chase a seagull along the harbour wall; he’d lost his chips to a stealthy arial raid and was now violently cursing the opportunistic villain, threatening to end its ‘miserable little existence’ and hoping that it ‘choked’ on its ill-gotten gains.
Turning, the exhausted chaser spied the old man and asked angrily, ‘Are you laughing at me?’
‘Not really,’ the old man replied, ‘Just the situation.’
He went on to observe how the tourist probably wasn’t really angry with the seagull and that given the opportunity, he would no more harm a feather on the bird than cut off his own right arm.
‘I have no way of telling,’ said the old man, ‘whether you are angry about the fact that you have been made to look foolish, or ineffectual in front of your family, or whether the price of the chips and their relative value is key to your rage, or even if you may be jealous of the seagull’s freewheeling life, its ability to fly when you are so obviously grounded in your own world.’
‘It’s a kittiwake by the way,’ the old man added, ‘and it always sounds as if it's laughing.’
© Jack Leonard 2021