The screams jolted me. Above two dozen birds cut through the air on a desperate mission. The people next to me had tossed some fries out of their car and the gulls flapped in mad frenzy to get to the food before it was gone. I flailed my book at them, ducking my head into my shoulders, and squeaking out dismay. Boisterous laughter erupted from the dark depths of the black car as it reversed onto the pavement and sped away. The two dozen gulls followed and it reminded me of a Hitchcock film. Goose bumps crawled down my arms.
Peeking into the back seat, I saw no evidence of “Bird Encounter”. I heaved a relieved sigh and laughed to myself. Birds take on a whole new meaning when one is in a convertible. Soon, the few feathered friends remaining near my car settled onto the sand, especially after I told them they would get nothing from me. My eyes dropped back to the novel and soon the ring of hooves on cobblestone replaced the thunder of waves against sand. Absorbed, I didn't notice the black car slither up beside me until I saw an anonymous arm shoot out and dump a huge bag of popcorn between our cars. Then the black beast slid into a u-turn and sped off.
A horde of gulls flew directly over me, pooping, swooping down to grab popcorn, leaping back into the air to jettison fuel, plummeting down for more. Within seconds I estimated my enemies to number one hundred or more. They came from everywhere, along the beach and from town. They must have sent out a special signal or they saw the frenzy and whooshed in for food and fast-paced excitement. The horrific cries of battle drew still more dive-bombers from neighboring cities.
Flailing a road atlas, screaming, I tried to start my car and put my hat on at the same time. I couldn't figure out what was more important and fumbled with each task. I finally dropped the atlas, jammed the hat on my head and cranked the engine. Fearing a big wad of slimy seagull dung, I kept my face down. The roar of the raging birds became deafening, adding to my panic.
Fortunately I retained enough presence of mind to know I couldn’t go forward without plunging into the sea, so I slammed into reverse, gunned the engine and burned salt backing up. Throwing the car into first, I peeled out toward the road, kicking up sand, and realized my adversaries were still soaring over me en route to the campaign. I veered wildly to the right, ducking my head in reflex, and bounced up onto the pavement.
With a quick glimpse above, I determined I was out of the flight path. I pulled over and glanced back at the horrific scene and shivered. With knees shaking and heart pounding I climbed out and walked around the car, peering into the back seat, studying the top cover, glancing at the hood, the trunk, and the windshield.
Nothing. Not even a partial poop. Not a single one.
I leaned against the trunk until my pulse slowed. Just as my shoulders relaxed, I gazed back at the beach. If it was possible, more than two hundred feathered troops were now deployed, with allies flying in from surrounding counties. The participants appeared to be getting ready to disperse. I realized the popcorn must be gone and they would soon start spreading out to return to their usual posts.
Panic sent me jumping into the car. I shifted into gear and lunged forward before the door even closed, wildly grabbing the seatbelt and hooked it as I neared the highway at warp speed. For the next ten miles my eyes shifted continually from the road to the rear view mirror, with quick darting glances overhead. When I felt safe, I pulled over and put the convertible top up. I let out a long, deep breath, rolled up my windows and cranked up the air conditioning. As I headed home, the thought of trading in the convertible for a hardtop had merit.
As I sped inland, away from the coast and coastal birds, instant replays on the high definition screen of my memory kept my heart hammering. And each time I saw that sinister hand--grasping the red and white striped popcorn bag--snake out of the window, I shuddered because I knew. There is evil out there.
I try not to wish this on anyone because the cosmic universe has a funny way of turning the tables on me, but I keep thinking it might be nice if the owners of that bag of popcorn were plagued with enormous amounts of bird poop on that shiny black hood and perhaps a few large splatters of seagull fertilizer on their front walk every now and then would not go amiss. But, do mean people ever pay the price?