The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES MEET A RED-FOOTED BOOBIE

Red-Footed Boobies:The smallest of all boobies at about twenty-eight inches in length and with a wingspan of only a little over three feet. They have red legs, and their bills and throat pouches are colored pink and blue. There is little interaction between blue-footed and red-footed boobies due to different nesting areas.

“Thanks for the help,” Talli said to the red-footed boobie. “My name’s Talli.”

“Dylan,” she answered.

“I’m sure lucky you came along to help,” Talli observed.

“Luck had nothing to do with it,” Dylan told him. Before he could ask for clarification, she looked past him and asked. “What in the world is your friend trying to do?”

Talli turned at watched Dooley flapping his wings in Fred’s face as the waterlogged navigator tried to drag Amelia through the swells.

Besieged by the rough seas and the bird blocking his way, Fred’s patience faded along with his energy. “Move it! You crazy bird!” Fred roared at Dooley.

Fred tried to move around Dooley, but Dooley moved sideways and blocked him.

Talli and Dylan moved alongside Dooley.

“What’s up, Dooley?” Talli asked casually. “You realize you’re about to drown the two humans we just rescued, right?

“He’s swimming in the wrong direction,” Dooley explained. “There’s an island not far the other way.” He gestured to the west.

As Dooley continued to try to turn Fred, Dylan grabbed Amelia’s parachute in her beak and start flying toward the island.

Talli watched Dylan for a beat. “Good idea,” he said.  Then he picked up a piece of parachute in his beak and joined her.

Exhausted, Fred stopped fighting the water and Dooley. At that moment, both he and Dooley realized that he and Amelia were being pulled in the opposite direction.

Dooley flew over to Talli. “Good thinking, Bro. Told you were a genius.”

Not wanting to drop the parachute Talli just shook his head and kept pulling.

Dooley grabbed a piece of parachute and three boobies dragged the aviators all of the way to the island.

Several yards out from the shore, a wave picked up Fred and Amelia, and carried them to the beach. Fred and Amelia helplessly rode the wave through the break and into the foaming white water. In the shallow water, as the wave rushed back to the ocean, Fred crawled out of the surf, dragging Amelia onto the dry sand. As soon as they were clear of the receding water, he collapsed from exhaustion.

Farther down the beach, Dooley, Talli, and Dylan lay in the sand, weak and weary.


Dooley slowly re-energized and finally stood up shakily. He walked over to Talli and nudged him with a foot. “Rise and shine, little brother.”

Talli’s eyes opened and with great effort, he pushed himself to his feet. “That was some hard flyin’.”

Dooley agreed with a nod of his head. “Don’t think we would’ve made it without that red-footed boobie. Where’d she come from?”

“The heavens,” Talli said simply.

Eyes open and listening to the conversation, Dylan interjected, “Oh, please!”

Dooley and Talli turned to her as she got to her feet. “I only did what any self-respecting boobie would do when she saw you two going all hero on us.”

The three boobies turned and looked at Fred and Amelia, still lying on the sand.

“Well,” said Dooley. “However it happened, we were lucky you were in the area.”

“Luck had nothing to do with it,” Dylan shrugged. “I was looking for her.” She gestured toward Amelia.

Dooley and Talli looked over at Amelia.

“What’s so special about her?” Talli asked innocently.

“You’re kidding, right?” Dylan responded in utter disbelief. “That’s the world-famous American aviator, Amelia Earhart.”

“Who?”

Dooley gazed off in the distance. Without turning toward anyone, he said in a quiet voice, “She was a human pilot trying to fly around the globe. She went missing somewhere in the Pacific on July second, 1937.”

Taken aback, Talli turned to Dooley, “Wait,” he insisted. “You mean we’re still more than three-quarters of a century away?”

Dooley nodded, equally disappointed. “Looks that way.”

Dylan looks from Dooley to Talli. She appears frustrated and confused by their reaction. “Stop worrying about the calendar. This woman is a role model for all women who dream of flying. Even Eleanor Roosevelt wants flying lessons from her.”

“Uh, you’re a seabird,” Dooley reminded her. “About all you do is fly.”

Dylan shook her head. “We’re not talking species here, blue boy. We’re talking gender. She was trying to do something no human woman had ever done.”

“Dooley,” he said.

“What?” Dylan demanded, confused.

“My name is Dooley, not blue boy,” Dooley explained.

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