As I hit the gravel trail north of Trent University a sign said Lakefield 7 kilometers. The sun was hot. The trail unpaved. Time was running short as I had a dinner date back in Peterborough with certain yogic goddess. My fifty-six year old legs, despite the rigorous conditioning of recent bicycling in Holland were tiring. I asked them what I should do. They told me to turn back and go to Reggie's Hot Grill and get some freedom fries and something cool to drink. I never argue with my legs. It looks too silly.
Reggie's Hot Grill is a chip trailer just south of the university. It is on a dead end street beside the Ottonabee River. The order-taker was a pretty girl with multiple visible piercings and semi-visible tattoos. The cook was curly haired, equally pierced, and remarkably cheerful. I sat at a picnic table thoughtfully set on the angled road bank so I feared my tin of Diet Coke was in danger of toppling. The low angle of the sun caused the shade of its umbrella to cant, so I had to sit at the end of the bench and crane my neck to be even partially out of the still-hot sun. But I was happy there, watching the seagulls, listening to the punky heavy rap metal blaring from Reggie's Grill: You lie when you breathe, you blink when you lie, and you blink when you breathe or some such nonsense over and over and over until my legs and I, in making peace with each other, began to sense a certain profundity in the silence between the verses. And the big seagull panted and stepped daintily on the pavement of the road which, due to the slant of the picnic table was close to eye level, so the seagull and I were damn near seeing eye to eye, or more accurately, eye to tongue. The hot pavement is hurting his feet. Why does he keep walking back and forth?
At that moment the psychic fumes funneling southwards some eight or more kilometers from the Lakefield Literary Festival doubtless mixed with the savory aromas from Reggies' Grill, invaded my nostrils and infected my brain. I imagined the story of a man, a man much like myself, sitting watching the seagulls and their bean sprout tongues panting. Then the largest of the pink-eyed creatures lands hot-footed on the picnic table in front of him. The seagull's tongue, as it lashes out like that of a moth-catching frog and stings the hero directly between the eyes, is forked! The man, forever and disastrously transformed in ways we dare not speak about here, with trembling hand picks up his plastic Reggie's Grill fork and proceeds to feed his feathered brothers and sisters every last remnant of his freedom fries. Then, picking up his plastic Reggie's Grill knife he braces his left pinkie finger flat on the picnic table's surface. The seagull's cry hungrily as one as he begins to saw...
Such inspiration. I want to produce a book of short stories next. Maybe the seagull one can be in it. I'll tell it in first person, from the protagonists point of view. But get this: there will be no a's q's or z's in the entire story! Brilliant. And I'll owe it all to the seagulls and the Lakefield Literary Festival.