Meet Ron. He’s the flying ace. He’ll swoop from the sky, dive into the water, and swim anywhere for a shiny fish. 🙂
Gravel crunched under rubber as Pete pulled in to a stop a short way from the lake. With a turn of his wrist he shut off the ignition and tossed the keys on the console between the two front seats. He grabbed his hat and shoved it on his head as he shrugged open the door, and his heavy boots crunched on the gravel road.
It was a clear afternoon with a sky so deep a blue it looked almost painted, and Pete whistled a little tune as he shut the door, opened the passenger door, and reached into the back seat.
“You awake yet?” he asked, straining a little as he dragged out a large pet carrier. It lurched to the side with a squeal and a jingle, and Pete held it steady to keep it from ramming into the front seat.
“Yes you are,” Pete said with a chuckle. “Ok boy, I know you’re excited.” The dog-sized creature trilled inside the carrier, and his snaggle-toothed beak poked through the metal mesh at the door of his carrier.
Pete set the carrier safely on the ground, and straightened to reach into a cooler in the bed of the truck. With a small, silver fish in hand, he squatted down to sit on his heels.
“You see the fish?” He wiggled the cold, cloudy-eyed fish in front of the wire mesh, and the shifting creature froze. Large, triangular head cocked to one side, wide eyes unblinking and focused on the silver scales. Slowly, Pete clicked open the latch and slid the fish through the open door.
The pterosaur snatched at the fish with his beak. Just as quickly, Pete darted his hands into the carrier, around the creature’s fuzzy body, and picked him up to hold him close to his chest. The fish slid to the ground when Ron squawked in protest, and Pete folded the large, leathery wings carefully against his body.
“Sorry about that,” Pete said. With a practiced shrug of his shoulders, he tucked the pterosaur’s head gently under one arm, while holding and stroking the body with the other. Instantly, the frantic breathing slowed, and the fidgeting feet and wing fingers stopped scrabbling for a foothold. Pete reached down towards the fish, and a flash of silver caught his eye.
“What’s this?” Pete allowed Ron to poke his head out from under his arm to reach for the set of keys laying in the gravel. “Did you snatch my keys?” Ron looked up at Pete and cocked his head to one side. He blinked.
“You rascal,” Pete ruffled the fuzzy gray head. “Those are my keys, not a fish. Here’s your fish.” He clipped the keys onto his belt- he really should get a new belt clip, this one looked a bit loose- and picked up the dust-coated fish between his thumb and forefinger. He dropped it above Ron’s head, and the pterosaur snatched it in his toothed beak, tilted his head back, and swallowed.
“There you go,” Pete murmured, his mustache lopsided in a soft smile. “Let’s take you back to your friends now.” With Ron secure and calm in his arms, Pete stood up and walked to a small, noisy shed near the shimmering shore of the lake. It was just a simple wooden structure with three walls. Wire fencing extended past two of the walls, and a camouflage shade cloth enclosed the top. More pterosaurs like Ron hopped from perch to perch in the shed, or scrambled about on the ground with their wings folded like bats.
Pete’s long shadow fell across the wire mesh, and about a dozen of the creatures scrambled over to poke their toothy beaks through the fence, large eyes squinting against the setting sun. They squeaked and clambered over each other their long, thin tails waving like white-spotted flags behind them.
“Hey fellas!” Pete skipped a step, and walked a little faster. “Look who’s back!” Ron trilled and wiggled in his arms, and one of the long, thin wings whacked Pete across the face. Pete blew through his lips and smoothed the wing back down before Ron could start flapping.
“Easy there boy,” he laughed. “Your wing just got better. Don’t want to hurt yourself now…” he scratched the nubby transition between hard beak and soft duckling-fluff, and Ron closed his eyes and hummed. “There we go.” The hard crunch of gravel transitioned to a soft crackle of trampled reeds, and the metal fencing reflected yellow. Pete reached for the latch left-handed, his every move followed by the large eyes and quick movements of the winged critters waiting on the other side.
With a faint click and small creak of the hinges, the gate exploded in a mass of gray and white wings. Pete stepped back and ducked his head under one arm, laughing. The silly beasties. Some flew over to the lake and splashed down into the water with a plunk, only to bob back up with only their heads breaking the surface of the water. Some flew to a higher perch in the giant cypress trees surrounding the lake. A few circled around Pete, squawking at Ron in his arms.
“Alright then Ron, off you go!” Pete loosened his hold, and Ron jumped out of his arms and into the air. He pumped his long, narrow wings and arched past a few of his friends as they banked and dove around him. Pete watched as the sky slowly turned a deep shade of indigo, the last light of the setting sun behind him.
Something heavy slammed into his backside. Pete swirled back and sideways, craning his neck to see what hit him, and one of the pterosaurs swerved sideways in a flurry of leathery wings. He caught a flash of yellow light on metal in the fish-trap teeth.
“Hey!” He tried swiping the flying thief from the sky, but his hands only caught air. “Those are my keys!” The pterosaur was already high in the sky, keys glinting in its beak. Others squawked and dove at the gleam. Soon three of them were poking at the thief’s beak, squawking like toddlers fighting over the only dump truck at the sandbox. They squabbled and scrabbled, until Pete saw the glint of his keys fall. The foolish pterosaurs didn’t even notice, too busy harassing each other to notice the shiny keys plummet towards the lake. Of course there was no way to catch them, but Pete ran anyway.
A faint plunk, a tiny splash, and Pete’s keys disappeared into the dark water. A dark, streamlined shape dove in after it with a sploosh. Another pterosaur must’ve seen the shiny metal. Pete squelched to the soft bank, water licking the toes of his boots, and watched the surface to see where it would come back up.
There, a small head broke the surface of the water not far from where Pete stood.
“Ron,” Pete didn’t want to surprise the creature and make him drop the keys.
“Good job fishing out the keys! Now can you bring them back?” Pete leaned forward as far out into the water as he dared. Ron looked sideways at Pete.
“Come on boy!” He didn’t have fish. Ron tilted his head back.
“No! don’t-” and swallowed.
Don’t worry too much about Pete, he always keeps a few spare keys around. Just in case shiny-obsessed critters manage to steal them. 🙂
How are you doing this month? I’m super excited about a little something I got in the mail this past week. 😀 Check it out!
I love having Skittles on my phone! And I get to enjoy my morning tea with Ajax every day now. 😀 I am ridiculously pleased with how they turned out. Of course, as the artist, I can see how I could tweak a few things to make it even better. But all in all I can hardly wait to have more critters ready so that I can collect them all! 😀
You know I’m at least going to have a whole stack of notebooks and sketchbooks with these guys. Perhaps a collection of mugs…It would be super cool to have my own little studio so they can cover the wall too. 🙂 Which is surprising, because I’ve never been the type to want to hang my own art on the wall.
In other progress, things have been very slow, but slow and steady wins the race right? 😀 So I’ve been working on my new pattern design for Redbubble, and somehow managed to complete Ron’s little April Fool’s joke on Pete…even though every time I sat down to write I was interrupted every 5-10 minutes (no exaggeration there. Even over naptime, it was like the universe did not want me to write it).
Ninja tortoise progress is slowly getting things done! Thank you for your patience, and for stopping by to hang out with me for a short while. I truly appreciate this little time to chat with you, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Thoughts, critique, a critter you’d like to see… 🙂
Have a great April Fool’s, and a joyful Easter! I’ll see you next month! 😀
P.S.- Oh, and just in case you’re interested in seeing what’s happening and possibly adopt a critter (which helps contribute to the diaper fund, and I’ll love you forever), here’s my Redbubble shop. 😀
Coming Next Month…
He looks tough, but once you get to know him he’s loyal to the core…and more of a softie really. 🙂