Markman Bufferbeak was a seagull, but not an especially good one. While the other seagulls flew and fished gracefully, Markman rarely caught a fish and when he did he often dropped it. The other birds in the colony he lived in were not kind about it. They taunted him and called him Johnathan Livingston Butterbeak, they told him he would starve and that no girl would ever want to marry him.
It was true that he didn’t have much luck with the fairer sex, and he ate mostly breadcrumbs and fried fish sandwiches that were thrown at him by tourist. Eventually he met a rather dumpy bird named Mahwak who had migrated to his colony from Cabrillo Beach. She was nothing to look at and she nagged him constantly. They had produced six chicks in their two years together.
One day while out for an afternoon flight Markman saw another bird drop a catfish. He swooped down and grabbed it. He was on his way to present it to Mahwak when he narrowly missed flying into an electric wire. He fumbled and dropped the fish, squawking curse words all the way.
Gloria Bortman was walking down the street when a catfish fell out of the sky and hit her on the head. She screamed when the slimy thing slapped her in the face. After she got over her initial shock she looked up at the sky. Fear seized her heart and she dropped to her knees she had never been a religious woman, but Jesus had just hit her in the head with a fish. She hesitantly picked up the fish and headed home to show her husband.
Markman landed at the colony with an empty beak and tears in his eyes.
“Where have you been? The kids are starving,” His wife squawked.
“I just…I had a fish, but it slipped out and I didn’t see where it went …and…”
“Jesus, Markman. You could have at least picked up some bread.”
“”Let me just rest up and I’ll go back out…”
With this she gave him a hard peck. Then another and another. A crowd began to gather.
“You stay here with the kids, I’ll go get dinner,”
She flew away leaving Markman to face the sarcastic smirks on the beaks of his contemporaries. Someone in the crowd called him Butterbeak.
Gloria arrived at home to find her husband watching CNN and talking back to the television set while stuffing his face full of barbequed potato chips.
“Racist dick, last week you said you were against abortion.” He screamed sputtering potato chips everywhere.”
“Dwezel, I was walking down the street and this hit me in the head.”
“What, someone threw a catfish at you? Were you wearing your union shirt because I bet it was those scabs…?
“No, it feel from the sky it was a sign from Jesus.”
“What are you on?”
“Nothing, Dwezel…God is talking to me.,” she began to tear up.
“Oh come on there has got to be some kind of logical explanation. Maybe someone threw it at you and you didn’t see.”
“It fell from the sky I looked up one second before it happened and saw it fall out of the clear blue sky.”
“A plane probably dropped it…”
“There was nothing in the sky. Dwezel, I think God wants me to do something.”
“Well maybe he wants me to fed people?”
“No, not just catfish. There was that thing in the Bible about loaves and fishes…”
“What did it say about loaves and fishes?”
“He fed people bread and fish or something like that. Jesus did a lot with fish. Believe me…I do know that.”
“So he wants you to feed the poor?”
She thought about this for a minute.
“Maybe that’s it,” she said with a shrug.
“So are you going to volunteer in a soup kitchen?”
“Maybe, he’s trying to tell me I should like, learn about food. Like taking a cooking class or something?”
“Well, maybe, but.”
“That must be it. Cat’s are curious. What do you do when you’re curious? You learn. Fishes are food, so that must be what he meant.”
She went online to look for cooking classes.
Marla Finblossom sat at the bottom of the ocean crying. Her friends and family surrounded her and tried to offer comfort. She had lost her husband Frank to a Seagull that morning. He swam too close to shore and the gull had grabbed him. She always told him not to go close to the shore, but he said that the food tasted better there.
She looked at her friends and the vast ocean and wondered where she would go next.