The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

BOOBIE FLYING SOLO

Throughout his life, Dooley never felt alone. Talli’s egg hatched five days after Dooley’s. They learned to fly together and hunt together. Even after Dooley found Andie, Talli flew at his side. Then, in a blink of an eye, it ended.

Talli wasn’t just going to be in a different place, he was going to be in a different century. It proved impossible to grasp: Dooley left his brother, his best friend in 1937.

Distracted by his own thoughts, Dooley almost missed seeing an entire pod of bottlenose dolphins explode out of the ocean below. If it had been anything other than about a dozen, eight foot long, five hundred pound grey ocean-going mammals, he probably would have failed to notice the maelstrom completely.

Fortunately, about three tons of dolphins shooting thirty feet in the air proved impossible to ignore.

For the first time ever in his life, Dooley dove into the ocean without his wingman.

Over another part of the Pacific, about eighty-five years later, Conley flew beside Carl. Four other male boobies from their colony flew with them. Mooch flew slightly above and behind the boobies.

Carl scanned the surface of the water. He caught sight of Dooley first as the missing boobie blasted out of the water, tumbled mid-air twice and finally got his wings out to stop from crashing back down on the surface. “Well, I’ll be,” Carl muttered.

Conley looked down and saw a boobie flying below them. “Dad?” he questioned, not believing he actually saw Dooley. After a moment, he realized his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. He shouted, “Dad!!!”

The other boobies saw Dooley, too.

“There he is!” shouted Dooley’s friend, Victor.

“Look!” yelled Andie’s brother, Hunter.

“It’s him. It’s really Dooley,” cried Dooley’s cousin, Kyle.

All six boobies banked hard and dove toward Dooley, who had already looked around, but not up. All of a sudden, six familiar boobies swooped down on him.

Dooley saw Carl, then Conley. A tear sprang from his right eye. He said aloud to his missing brother, “I made it, Talli. I’m home. I’m really home.”

“Dad!” shouted Conley, excited beyond joyful. “It’s really you!”

Dooley felt a thrill of exhilaration at the sight of his son. “Conley!”

The enthusiasm of the rescue party interrupted their reunion. All four boobies spoke at once.

“Hey, Dooley! Where ya been?” asked Victor.

Kyle added, “We’ve been lookin’ all over for you, man.”

Mooch joined the group and asked the question none of the boobies had even considered.  “Hey, Dooley,” he bellowed. “Where’s Talli?”

There was no way for Dooley to explain that he left his beloved brother back in 1937, so he looked over at Mooch and responded truthfully, but not completely, “Talli found a girl.”

All six of the boobies and the frigatebird looked at each other, stunned. The news rendered Dooley’s talkative neighbor, Dennis, who practically never stopped speaking, speechless.

“Talli?” asked Hunter, surprised.

“A girl?” questioned Victor, astonished.

“With that mating dance?” inquired Kyle, bewildered.

“Yes,” replied Dooley smiling. “My brother Talli has a mate and I know he’s going to be very happy.”

“Is he kidding?” astounded Victor wondered.

“Wow.” shocked Hunter exclaimed.

“There’s hope for all of us,” amazed Kyle declared.

Conley turned to Carl. “Mom needs to know dad is back safe. I’ve gotta go tell her and Haley,” he announced.

Carl thought for a moment. Over the past few days, Conley had proven to be a good and cautious flyer. He nodded agreement. “Be careful,” he added.

“I will.” Conley banked away from the group.

Carl flew to the head of the group. He spotted a small island just ahead of them. “Let’s take it to the beach, guys.”

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