“Daisy, come quick. He’s back.” The small, shaggy-bearded man danced a few steps in excitement.
A woman moved her girth sideways, through the screen door, letting it slap shut. Frizzy dark-rooted blond hair framed her splotchy sagging face. She snatched the binoculars and trained them on a distant stand of trees growing across Cape Falcon.
“Yeah Jess, he’s somethin’ all right,” she grunted.
“He’s the biggest I ever seen.” A toothless grin spread over his face.
Baltasharm, after circling twice, landed beside the roomy nest resting in limbs high atop a fir tree snag where Amaturelle sat keeping three eggs warm. This was not her idea of fun, but she always took good care of her brood.
“Those creatures are looking our way again,” Baltasharm said.
Amaturelle peered toward the cabin tucked into the hillside cove.
“They’re pointing,” she said. “How rude.”
“What a wretched looking creature.”
“Which one?” Amaturelle giggled.
“You’re right. They both look unappetizing.”
“The small one is so bony. I wonder if the round one eats most of their catch?”
Baltasharm peered down at two creatures standing on the deck of the cabin. They had been there two days, looking and pointing toward the nest. The eagle was concerned because he’d seen similar creatures take what looked like a small tree limb, from which all growth had been stripped, and point it skyward. After a loud noise, a bird fell from the sky, never to fly again. The creatures seemed to prefer ducks, but last year Baltasharm saw a friend eagle fall and watched the creatures carry it away. One had to be careful.
“I wish they would go away,” Amaturelle said.
“These seem harmless,” said Baltasharm. “I don’t see a tree limb but I would like to know what they are holding up to their faces when they look toward us.”
“Oh, Baltasharm, you know about so many things. I feel safe when you are near.”
Baltasharm, stretched to his full height and breadth, lifted from the tree and took to the air. Circling the nest, he dipped his wings in a salute to Amaturelle and soared out over the ocean. She knew dinner was on the way.
“Look at him, Daisy. Have you ever seen such a sight? Wish I could fly like that.”
“Good grief, Jess, how can you get so excited over a bird? You fly? Get your skinny butt in the house. We’re having Spam for dinner.”
Daisy went inside. Jess sighed and followed.
It was twilight when Baltasharm flew toward the nest. Jess grabbed the binoculars.
“Holy cow! What’s he got? Daisy, come look.”
There was no answer, only the blare of a television. Jess watched as the eagle circled, holding what looked like a large fish in his talons. Baltasharm swooped in and laid it carefully on the nest, so that it hung evenly over the sides. He waited for Amaturelle to take the first bite before tearing away a large piece.
“Them birds are somethin’ else.”
Jess kept watch during the next week. One evening before sunset, he raised the binoculars. Baltasharm sat on a snag next to the one where Amaturelle had nested all day. Amaturelle turned to Baltasharm, spread her wings, and lifted off into the glowing sky. Baltasharm moved to the nest and settled over the eggs.
“Dang me. Don’t that beat all.”
Jess followed Amaturelle until she flew toward the sun and he lost sight of her. Before long, he saw her circling the trees and dipping low over the waves. She swooped past the nest several times. In a slow approach, Amaturelle settled beside Baltasharm, leaned against him and rubbed her beak against his.
“Them birds,” Jess whispered, “I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.”
The screen door opened and slapped shut.
“Still watching them birds?” Daisy snapped.
Jess didn’t reply as he continued to watch the nest.
“I was thinking that big one would make a mighty nice stuffed trophy,” she said. “Get us some money.”
“Daisy, you know I’m outta that kinda stuff. Besides with that last conviction, I cain’t have no guns on the place. They’d put me away ’til kingdom come.”
“My brother Moody’s got a powerful rifle with a scope and everything. He could drop it right off that snag onto the ground. He’s a good shot.”
“I don’t want him around. Moody means trouble. He’s the one shoulda gone to jail.” Jess went into the cabin, letting the door slam.
“Baltasharm, I think the little ones are almost ready. I hear faint tapping.”
“I hope you’re right. We’ll be busier than ever, but I always look forward to the time we have before they leave.”
“Me too. They’re so helpless at first.” Amaturelle sighed.
“And hungry.” Baltasharm chuckled. “But they strengthen quickly and are gone.”
Three days later two eggs cracked open and two little eaglets began their constant demand for something to eat. The third egg became silent and never opened. Baltasharm removed it with his beak. This had happened before, but their sorrow was short lived. The parents were busy and happy with the two who cheeped constantly. Baltasharm was a good provider and brought home all kinds of good eating for his family. They took turns dropping the niblets into the open beaks so that Amaturelle could fly out and refresh herself. At night Baltasharm perched close by.
“It’s time to name them,” Baltasharm announced when they were two days old.
“I like Litarianne for our daughter,” said Amaturelle.
“I think our son should be called Samatobis. What do you think?” asked Baltasharm.
“Perfect names for perfect children,” their mother said, grooming the little ones.
“They will do well.” Their father tapped each little head with his beak.
Baltasharm looked out over the water and observed the sun setting toward a clear horizon. Streaks of pink stretched across the graying sky. He turned his gaze to the creatures on the cabin deck. There were three this time. The new one had a dark head with green and blue on his body. He was taller than the others. Baltasharm gasped as the large creature raised a limb to his shoulder and put his face down to a small box attached to it. He pointed it toward the nest, but the bony creature pushed it aside.
“Amaturelle! Cover the little ones and lie down into the nest as deeply as possible. Do not look up.”
Amaturelle obeyed Baltasharm. When he gave terse orders, something terrible was about to happen. Though her head was tucked under a wing, she was aware that her mate moved about on nearby limbs. The little ones huddled against their mother and were quiet.
“Stay as you are. I’m going to fly out over the ocean into the sun. When he points the limb toward me, the bright rays will blind him. I will return.”
“I love you, Baltasharm.” A rush of wind under strong wings was the only reply.
Moments later a loud noise made her heart beat as though it would tear open her feathered breast. The following silence terrified her. Amaturelle imagined the worst: she would never see Baltasharm again.
After a while Amaturelle, head down, huddling over her babies, heard the familiar sound of circling wings. Baltasharm landed on the edge of the nest and smoothed Amaturelle’s feathers with his beak.
“Baltasharm!” she cried, looking up at him, searching for a wound.
“I am safe and whole, dear one. I believe we have a guardian spirit.”
“What do you mean, my love?”
“As I lifted into the air, I heard a loud noise. Like the one I told you about.”
“Yes, I heard it too.” Amaturelle shivered with the memory.
“I felt no impact and expected another loud noise because I’d not reached the sun’s protection. When none came, I circled the creatures’ nest and saw the small one pulling the limb from the large one. He threw it into the water below and the large one began hitting him. When the round one grabbed the large one they all fell to the floor of the nest rolling about screeching and calling like a flock of crows.”
“The limb fell into those rocks where the ocean pounds day and night. We are safe for now.”