Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Entry #175

Flight Interrupted
by Bernard Lee DeLeo


The middle aged man trailed fifty yards behind his fourteen year old son. They hunted squirrels and rabbits before the Montana winter freeze when it would be impossible to reach a store for supplies at times during the winter. He saw his son look up into the overcast sky. Following the boy’s gaze, the father saw a hawk in majestically slow, gliding flight. Smiling in admiration at the hawk’s ability to sail so effortlessly, the man missed seeing his son taking careful aim with scoped .22 caliber rifle. The sharp retort stunned the boy’s father out of his reverie as the hawk plummeted to earth. The boy ran over excitedly to his felled prey. Looking up at his approaching father, he saw the man’s grim look.

“There’s no good comes from killing a hawk, Danny,” the man said kneeling next to the bird.

“I…I never thought I’d hit it, Dad.”

“It looks like you just grazed it. Let’s back away. Don’t know if it’ll revive or not. You’ll have to finish it off if it doesn’t.”

Danny nodded, his hands tightening on the rifle he carried. He followed his father away from the scene, glancing back with furtive hope. The two watched the twitching hawk until Danny figured he’d have to shoot it again. Suddenly, the dazed hawk popped up in a wild dance for a moment before streaking up into the air.

“I won’t do it ever again,” Danny promised, watching the hawk soar once again.

“I know, boy.”

26 comments:

Laurel said...

I love this piece. I am not opposed to hunting, but it does have a consequence. The hunter should always weigh the merit of his purpose against the life lost.

This reminds me of something I read somewhere, maybe by Pat Conroy, about a boy who kills an eagle. His father makes him eat the whole bird and he never, ever does it again.

I love the scene here. Love it. Hunting should always include respect for life, even if the two seem so opposed.

kashers said...

A lesson finally learned. Should have been amongst the first lessons taught to the son, i.e. you hunt a specific target and never an endangered species.

Anonymous said...

I like the juxtaposition of the father, slowly walking along, and the effortless flight of the hawk. I can't help but wonder whether the son's hunting lesson and the hawk's sudden recovery are mysteriously intertwined with the father's exsistence, his wisdom. --JR

Charles Gramlich said...

Good one. Brought back memories of once when I was a teenager. I was walking across the field and saw a bird sitting on a bush about fifty yards out. I had my lever action 22 and I just pumped the lever and fired from the hip, just like in all those western movies, and I actually hit and killed the bird. I never once imagined I'd actually hit it and I felt so terrible about it for the longest time. I didn't mind hunting as long as I was gonna eat what I shot, but I didn't like the fact that I killed it by accident. It was certainly a learning experience, though, much like the young lad has here.

austere said...

Liked.
Liked that you made the bird live.
And soar.

Aniket said...

This a great piece. Everyone can relate to it. Either with the son's urge to spread his wings or the fathers to guide him through the process. Some might identify with both.

Superb writing.

Bernita said...

Nice story, nice moral lesson gently told.
One can also relate to the rapport between father and son.

catvibe said...

This is sort of a modern Aesop's fable. I really enjoyed it. It was touching actually, I could feel the love between father and son. Having boys, I understand what drove the boy to shoot the bird. He must have been THRILLED that he got it! And THRILLED even more when it took off again. I loved that father and life itself taught this boy his lesson. This is one of my favorites.

laughingwolf said...

excellent piece, bernard... but the old man should have taught the boy much better long before he turned 14

angel said...

This was a very cool read.

Preeti said...

beautifully written. loved the father-son relationship. was also touched by the son's respect for his father's wisdom.

i loved this.

lena said...

That was a really good read. I liked that everyone is alive and happy. Excellent writing here!

Deb Smythe said...

Lesson learned.

pjd said...

A coming-of-age story. That moment when the boy learns the responsibility that comes with independence. Brilliantly portrayed, masterfully paced, with the exact details we need and nothing more. Very good.

Craig said...

Both characters were very convincing. The firm but fair father figure especially.

Kartik said...

Wow. A moralistic piece well done. I was especially taken by surprise at the fact that hunters have a balance-of-nature stand. I always assumed it was merely a cheap thrill.

raine said...

Good, solid story, well told.
Not a fan of hunting, but respect the father figure here, as the son obviously does.
Good stuff!

BernardL said...

I’m sorry I didn’t respond to the welcome input earlier but it took a very long time to read through the 236 other entries. Thank you all for your very kind comments. As some of you pointed out, it is too bad the father didn’t teach his son not to shoot at a hawk or anything else not targeted for survival. I wished to portray how easily a father may take something for granted, even in teaching the use of a weapon. In one instant his son, excited to be on the hunt, fired into the air at a target he shouldn’t have, disregarding one of the most important premises in handling a rifle – where will the bullet go if you miss. The father knew there was nothing that could be done except as his son pointed out – never do it again.

truevoid said...

effective simple writing. happy ending :)

JaneyV said...

Bernard - I have loved every piece you have submitted to these contests over the years and this is no exception.

Every day at work I learn something new about teaching from my students just as the father learns here. I'm so glad he was kind and he understood that the boy learned from his actions. I love that father.

Really well written Bernard.

Aimee Laine said...

Yeah that it was only a .22! ;) Yeah for the hawk to soar and fly free again. And a good lesson learned. :)

Kurt Hendricks said...

Great character development in such a small space, and a wonderful snapshot of the father/son relationship.

Aerin said...

Hello, hello! So happy to see you here - Facebook keeps telling me to friend you but since I'm not as cute as Steve Parrish, I wasn't sure you'd accept...ANYway...


my caveat

Something I Would Keep

YIKES are you just exhausted working multiple meanings into such short space? I'm just hugely impressed with all the layers.


Something I Might Tweak

"Suddenly the dazed hawk" - the word "up" is used twice, which on one hand I'd keep and on the other I wouldn't. But it's a small tweak.

Jean Ann Williams said...

I'm not against hunting, either, but not a hawk. So, this is nice and enjoyed the easy flow of words.

Great job!

Chris Eldin said...

We just saw Avatar, and this reminds me of a scene from that. Nicely written!

Harish said...

A beautiful capture of guilt and learning in words! Great read