Wednesday Write-in #18 @ CAKE.shortandsweet
Prompts: the worst party :: grumpy :: waterfall
A PERCH FOR PRUNING
“Some waterfall,” said Pete, pausing to put flame to his smoke. “Thing’s plain grumpy if you ask me.”
“Yeah grumpy. That’s not flow, it’s tinkle. The rocks beneath are barely wet.”
“Well we’re not here for the waterfall. We’re here for the birds,” said Derek. He tapped the Nikon hanging just above his hip.
“They probably saw this stagnant pond and headed south. Lucky shits didn’t have to make that godforsaken hike, either. Some party, Derek. I don’t see a damn thing.”
“Black Crowned Heron feed in places like this so we might. You know I once saw one carrying off a snake? They’ll prey on anything to keep their bellies full.”
“What about human carrion? We’ve got the Bataan Death March between here and the trail head and the sun’s going down. We might end up the roadside feast your heron is looking for.”
Derek didn’t reply. He had waded into the shallow water that was gently running away from the waterfall. It was cold and clear through to the bottom. The surface reflected the canopy of the an old banyan leaning over the far side of the stream.
No wading during rain season, thought Derek. Streams like this wash away skeptics like Pete every year.
“See anything, P?”
“Nothing Derek. Ain’t shit here.” His voice echoed off the rocks and disappeared into the treeline.
Derek turned back resignedly, ready to make the long hike back to his dusty hatchback, when a raven swooped in low across the water then caught an upwind and alighted on a low-hanging branch of the banyan tree. Derek took two catty steps toward the far shoreline, carefully unzipping his camera case as he did.
The raven briefly surveyed the scene below him before turning to his own hygiene. He ducked his thick black beak under his left wing, plucking downward one-two-three, then did the same on the right. He wiped both sides of his beak on his perch as if sharpening a knife. A few moulted feathers floated down to the surface of the water below. He turned and reached his head back to the outside crest of his left wing and worked downward again, plucking one-two-three, then cleaned his tool on the branch again before repeating on the right. A few more tiny feathers drifted down.
Derek had his camera out now and was clicking shots real-time, moment to moment.
The raven ignored his onlooker and pushed his wings out in a slow, deliberate stretch that he held for a moment before a tremble and a full-body shake. He hopped one-hundred-eighty-degrees, defecated, then set to flight downstream.
Derek caught it all.
“Was that the heron?”
“No, man. Something better.”
“Say let’s make a move then, huh? I’m catching a draft out here and I’m out of smokes.”
“Yeah, Pete. Lead the way.”