Putt, putt, putt. Grandpa’s motorboat cut up the night water into thousands of sparkling stars
“A lovely night for a ride,” Grandpa hummed and steered in towards the dock. He could see Nana in the big window of their house at the top of the bank.
Grandpa turned off the motor and glided into dock. He threw the rope over a post into a sailor’s knot. “Ooooooo, Oooooo…” Grandpa heard a noise from his neighbor’s dock.
Then he saw the silhouette of a seagull against the moon. “Oooooo, O00000…” “Hey, fellow. You sound more like an owl of the forest than a bird of the sea. What’s got you confused?” Grandpa unhooked the boat from the dock and paddled over to the crying gull. “Why so sad, fellow, on such a beautiful night?”
A silver nest glittered around the gull’s legs. Grandpa peered closer. It wasn’t a nest at all but an awful tangle of fishing line. The gull’s legs were tied up and cut from a struggle to free himself.
“You’ve been here for quite a while from the look of this mess.” Grandpa studied the knot. The seagull must have caught his leg in the fishline when he landed on the dock. When he tried to fly away, the hook at the end of the line jabbed into his webbed foot. Grandpa reached to loosen it. “Scree… Oooooo!” The gull flapped his wings, and Grandpa jumped. “It hurts a lot, doesn’t it?” Grandpa asked. How could he free his new friend?
“Mr. Gull, I know you’re a proud bird and humans often are not very kind. But you’ll have to trust me tonight if you want to fly again.” “Oooooo…weee…” The gull seemed to agree. Grandpa had a way of understanding gull noises.
“I’ve got a jackknife that should help.” Grandpa pulled out a shiny knife with scissors, can opener, even a toothpick. It was a gift from Nana. “Oooooo… weee…” “I know it’s sore. I’ll be gentle.” Grandpa cut carefully many times before the tangle fell off.
The gull shook his wings and stamped his feet. “You’re a free fellow. You can fly again.” The gull looked at Grandpa for a moment out of a big yellow eye.
Then he walked to the end of the dock. His reflection stretched into the bay and danced with the moon. Grandpa’s reflections danced too.
Then the gull jumped off the dock, raised up his wings and began to fly, low over the still bay, higher, higher.
Grandpa watched him disappear down the creek, out to the ocean. “Fly free. Fly far, my new friend. Fly into your night home.
Grandpa paddled his boat over to his dock. Nana wasn’t at the window anymore. He saw a little light at the end of the dock. He smelled the wild roses. He heard a rustle. Nana appeared at his side, behind a flashlight. “My gentle hero,” she leaned over and kissed Grandpa. Grandpa threw a rope over the post into a sailor’s knot.
He climbed out of the boat, and he and Nana walked up the hill together to their cozy home.