Flying through life in the Ten Thousand Islands has always been full of adventure. There are so many wonderful characters living the Marco lifestyle, it really does take an exceptional episode to make the Beach Boy Chronicles. This is a story that rises above the pecking order to land in the center of what makes Marco, Goodland, and the Isles of Capri a special place to call home.
Once upon a time, at a tropical marina not so far away, there was a kindhearted man and a special but adventurous pelican. The kindhearted man spent his days working at the charter boat docks and helping with visiting boats and seasonal tourists. During the high season, the docks were always busy with anglers and charter boat captains practicing their trade. The fish were plentiful in the surrounding waters and every day when the fishing boats came in with the catch of the day, the docks were crowded with families, fishing captains, and seabirds of every kind. The seabirds were frantic when the captains began to clean the fish, and the older and larger birds were always aggressive and eager to snatch up the bits and pieces the mariners tossed away.
The kindhearted man was always busy working near the docks, but he was never too busy to help anyone who needed help or to notice the beauty and the mysteries of Mother Nature. He also could not help but notice a young pelican with a limp that was never quick enough to get his share of the bits and pieces of the fresh catch that were tossed away. After a time, the man began to ask the captains for a little extra fish so he could feed the young, crippled pelican after the other older birds were gone. Most of the captains complied and soon the kindhearted man was nurturing and caring for the disabled young pelican he named Limpy. Limpy had no problems in the air and was a wonderful flyer. The only frustration for Limpy, and the kindhearted man, was when the young pelican tried to hobble up for his fair share, he was out maneuvered by the more agile and stronger birds.
As the days and weeks began to pass, Limpy and the man began to grow close. Limpy would arrive daily after the boats came in, and much to the visiting children’s delight, the man would privately feed the crippled young pelican as the children watched. Soon the man was very fond of his nurtured pelican and became decidedly disturbed when one of the fishing captains approached and began to declare: “When you’re not here,” the fishing captain complained, “that pelican of yours – that one that you’ve’ been feeding – he is trying to bite my customers! He will waddle up to the children, and when they have no fish, he tries to bite them. You have got to do something,” the captain continued, “before one of my passengers gets hurt!”
Later that night when the sun was setting, the man fed Limpy and explained to the eating pelican, “Limpy, I’m worried,” the kindhearted man confessed. “I cannot be here every day to watch your behavior, but you must be a good bird and not bite the children!”
For a time Limpy behaved, but one afternoon the fishing captain returned. “Well, that’s it!” the captain shook his head. “That pelican of yours has got to go. He bit a little boy when I was cutting up some fish and now it is time for him to go! You have to take that bird somewhere or get rid of him somehow!”
That night the kindhearted man had a heavy heart but knew that the captain was right. Limpy was a great pelican and one of Mother Nature’s creatures but the crippled bird did not understand that the children did not have fish. Limpy only knew that he was hungry – all pelicans are always hungry and need to eat a lot!
The next day the man made a large comfortable cage and Limpy went inside. He then placed the cage and the crippled pelican on the front seat of his car and began to drive. As the man and the pelican rode in the car, the man talked, and the pelican listened.
“Limpy, you are a wonderful bird, and I will miss you very much. You have been a good friend and I know that you do not understand the difference between a child with a fish and one that doesn’t know you need to be fed. I am taking you to a new place just up the coast where you can find new friends and have a new life. I know now, I should have never started feeding you, but you are a special bird that has special needs. You are also a pelican I will never forget.”
Limpy listened carefully throughout the drive and finally after the car had traveled over forty miles, the kindhearted man and the pelican arrived at a distant beach. There were other pelicans playing in the surf, fishing as pelicans do, and the man decided this was the perfect new home for Limpy. He would soon make new friends and have a new place to roost. After Limpy was released from his cage, he flew toward the other pelicans and began to play in the waves. When Limpy was busy in the water the man picked up the empty cage and drove away.
The very next day Limpy was back at the very same docks waiting for the kindhearted man as he worked with the boats and the tourists. Forty miles in the air is nothing to a pelican who can fly, and as any pelican knows, home is where the heart is, and anything can be found from the height of a bird’s eye view.
When the captain approached and eyed Limpy suspiciously, the kindhearted man declared. “This is not the bird that bites, I got rid of him. I left him far away on a distant beach. This just happens to be a bird that limps.”
“Well, we’ll see,” said the captain.
To this day, Limpy has never bitten any more children, and the pelican and the kindhearted man have a new understanding and are living happily ever after.
This story is not a work of fiction from an over-active imagination, but concerned readers must understand, Limpy and the kindhearted man now reside in a pelican and man relocation program, perhaps in Goodland or on the Isles of Capri.
Tom Williams is a Marco Islander. He is the author of two books: Lost and Found and Surrounded by Thunder—the Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men. Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.