The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER FIVE


American White Pelican. Photo: Audubon Society

American White Pelicans: Seabirds of the eastern coast of the United States. They have an overall length of fifty to seventy inches, including its beak which measures about a foot in length. They have a wingspan of ninety-five to a hundred and twenty inches. Their body weight averages between eleven and twenty pounds. Their plumage is almost entirely bright white, except the black flight feathers, which are generally only visible in flight.


Dooley and Talli flew side-by-side over the water like they always did, but Dooley couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong: unfamiliar air currents, green water where it should have been blue, cooler temperature than he’d ever experienced, and no Mooch lurking in the clouds.

“That maelstrom must’ve knocked me a little goofy,” Dooley confessed to Talli. “I’m feeling kinda lost and out of it.”

Talli frowned and started concentrating on spotting recognizable landmarks. Finally, he caught sight of something in the distance. “Okay,” he said hesitatingly. “That’s weird.”


Pointing with his beak, Talli said, “I see what you mean by things being a little out of the ordinary.”

Dooley dutifully looked off in the direction Talli indicated. Just below the horizon, he saw the masts of several tall wooden sailing ships sitting at anchor in a harbor.

His eyes opened wide in astonishment. “We made a wrong turn somewhere.”

Dooley continued heading in a straight line toward the harbor.

“Where are we going?” Talli asked. “That’s not home.”

“Exactly,” Dooley replied. “We better check it out. Otherwise we may never know how to get home.”


Minutes later, Dooley and Talli soared into Boston Harbor. They flew over the ships and saw the stone buildings and cobblestone streets onshore.

Painting of Boston Harbor from Fitz Henry Lane Historical Archive

Landing more ineptly and ungainly than usual, they ended up on a heavy wooden pier next to a thick wooden pylon. They scanned their surroundings in befuddled amazement.

“You two are a couple of smooth operators. First landing?” a female voice mocked from above.

Dooley and Talli looked up and saw a strange white seabird with an enormous beak pouch perched on the top of the pylon.

“We land all the time,” countered Talli.

“Coulda’ fooled me. You might need a little more practice,” the bird laughed. “Haven’t seen you boys around here before. Trust me. I would’ve remembered.”

“I don’t think we’re from around here,” Dooley answered.

The bird, an American white pelican named Morgan, looked down and spotted the brothers’ feet. “What’s with the blue feet,” she teased. “You land in a paint bucket or something?” she snickered. “Wouldn’t be surprised.”

Dooley and Talli looked at each other. “What an odd question,” Dooley responded.

“This is the way we were born,” Talli added. “Everyone in our colony has blue feet.”

The white bird gracefully dropped down from her perch and joined the boobies. “So, what kinda birds are you guys?”

“What do you mean?” Dooley asked.

“I’m a pelican,” the bird explained. “That fellow over there is a seagull,” she pointed to a seagull flying overhead.

“We’re seabirds,” Talli shrugged.

The pelican rolled her eyes in frustration.”Well that narrows it down.” She turned to Dooley. “Wanna help out your buddy here?”

Dooley nodded. “Sure, we’re Sula nebouxii.”

The pelican shook her head without amusement. “Cute. Real scientific. I’m a Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, but to everyone else, I’m just an ol’ American white pelican. Simple, huh?”

“Yeah,” Dooley admitted.”Wait! American?”

“Don’t change the subject,” she tried again. “What does everyone call you?”

Dooley and Talli shared a look of surrender.

“Oh, that,” Talli answered innocently. “We’re, eh, boobies.”

“Stop joking around, just tell me,” she demanded. “What kind of birds are you guys?”

“He just told you,” Dooley insisted. “We’re boobies. Blue-footed boobies.”

Morgan took a moment to process what they just said. “You’re serious?”


“We’re boobies and proud of it.”

Morgan rolled her eyes. “Boobies. Can’t say I ever heard of such a thing, but okay.

Dooley indicated himself. “I’m Dooley.”

Talli stepped forward. “And I’m Talli.”

“My name’s Morgan.”

Dooley did a little bow. “Pleased to meet you.”

Talli looked around the strange harbor. “So, ah, where are we?

“More important, when are we?” Dooley asked quietly, already dreading the answer.

Talli and Morgan looked at Dooley curiously. “What?”

Dooley spread his wings indicating their surroundings. “This looks like something out of a history book.”

Talli gazed across the harbor where several wooden sailing ships were anchored. “Yeah, we’ve never seen boats like those before.”

“What?” asked Morgan, stunned. “You’re seabirds but you’ve never seen ships before? Where are you guys from?”

“We’ve seen plenty of ships and yachts made of metal and fiberglass,” Dooley explained. “Those look like they’re made outta wood.

That brought a quizzical frown from Morgan. “Of course they are.

“Really?” exclaimed Talli in amazement. “They’re antiques.

At that moment, the wind blew a newspaper across the dock. It stuck to Talli’s beak. He immediately tried to wipe it away.

Dooley stepped toward him and shouted, “Wait!” Talli froze. Dooley waddled close enough to read the newspaper banner. “It’s the Massachusetts Gazette,” he read aloud. “And according to the publication date, it’s December 16th, 1773.”

Incredulous, Dooley turned to Morgan. “Is this a joke?”

Morgan looked amused. “Well, this is Massachusetts Colony and the year is 1773. None of that is news. I can see now why they call you a boobie.”

Talli finally managed to get the newspaper off his face. “We can’t be in Massachusetts. That’s in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Dooley tried to figure out what had happened. After a long moment, he looked at Talli, “I think we traveled through time.”

“And space?” Talli gulped.

“Like that’s even possible,” Morgan countered.

Dooley and Talli shared a look that said, “It must be.”

Looking from Dooley to Talli, Morgan had the impression that the boobies were in some sort of trouble. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

Feigning confidence, Dooley responded, “Nope, no problem here.”

Talli sensed that something was terribly wrong, but he didn’t contradict his brother.

Dooley turned to Morgan and in a faux cheerful voice started to wind up the conversation. “Well, nice meeting you,” he smiled. “We’d better get going.”

“Huh?” Talli asked.

“You just got here,” Morgan countered.

Dooley gave Talli a look that said, “Shut up and play along.” To Morgan, he said aloud, “We’re busy boobies.”

“Ah, yeah,” Talli finally caught on to his brother’s plan. “We’re busy boobies. No time for standing around on a smelly old pier all day like you pelicans.”

“I beg your pardon,” Morgan shouted as Dooley and Talli turned and gracelessly launched into the air.

Morgan watched them gain altitude, and then muttered, “Those are two very strange birds. Ha! Boobies indeed.”


©2013, 2018 Sawyer Creative, LLC

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