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CUCKOO didn’t really know how high they were, but certainly they were above his normal cruising height; and the ground looked very, very far away.
He could see big things like roads and houses and rivers and mountains, but smaller things like rabbits eluded him.
He was content with that. He was rather fond of rabbits and certainly didn’t plan to eat one. Indeed, he chatted with them occasionally. They had a different perspective on life, and knew a lot more than you’d think. Amazing what you could overhear from a hole in the ground, especially if you had really big ears.
EAGLE was of a different mind. He regarded them as breakfast, lunch or dinner, best washed down with a bottle of claret or two, and he truly relished the process of killing.
There was the anticipation as you cruised around looking for a target of opportunity, the raw excitement as you spotted your prey, the exhilaration as you dived, and then that wonderful madness as you tore your victim to pieces.
It made him feel like the most powerful eagle in the sky; and that feeling was good. EAGLE-LAND was the most powerful nation in the world. Whether that would continue to be the situation or not was another matter entirely. Some of these Asian birds were flexing their wings, and growing very large very quickly. He switched his mind back to the prospect of a kill.
On the other hand, he knew that CUCKOO didn’t didn’t like seeing rabbits, or other targets, torn apart so he refrained from his killing dive. He didn’t really know why, but CUCKOO, in his quiet way, commanded respect. He couldn’t fight worth a damn, but the birds of the world were flocking to him.
“That was thoughtful of you, EAGLE,” said CUCKOO.
“I didn’t do anything,” said EAGLE gruffly. He felt almost ashamed at showing mercy to a bunch of rabbits.
“Sometimes it’s better not to,” said CUCKOO. “This thing called Soft Power works too. Look at CUCKOO-LAND. We don’t have eyries in most of the countries in the world; and we try and stay out of wars. Saves a lot of money, And did you know CUCKOO-LAND is now bigger than EAGLE-LAND; well our economy is anyway.”
“WHAT!” shouted EAGLE, and whipped out his iPad to checkout this rubbish; but then he saw that it was true. Somehow CUCKOO-LAND, with its socialism and snail-eating and long vacations had overtaken THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. He felt depressed and was really tempted to go and kill a rabbit.
“Would you like half my tofu and seaweed sandwich?” said CUCKOO.
EAGLE munched the sandwich moodily. It actually didn’t taste too bad but it didn’t compare with a rabbit. “We’re the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and the strongest country in the world; and we don’t seem to know what we’re doing any more,” he said.
“You’ve forgotten what works,” said CUCKOO. “And here is the irony. You taught us after WWII; and we’ve remembered.”
And we’ve built a country where the rich get richer and most are losing ground, thought EAGLE. He wasn’t very good on history, but he didn’t think that was the original intention at all. He need to consult the spirits of the FOUNDING EAGLES.
He soared up into the sky. He felt the need for speed, and he was still pondering his VERY IMPORTANT question. He didn’t really want to be beholden to CUCKOO, but he felt he had to do something. No one else seemed to be doing anything, and this great country that he loved so much seemed to be declining by the day. He needed to know why. He couldn’t act if he didn’t know.
With CUCKOO’S help, he thought he could probably learn. He hadn’t known how to fly when he was young but he’d mastered that; and though he had to admit he had been born with a certain aptitude for flight, excelling at it had required extraordinary commitment . He’d studied flying aces like the Red Baron, Max Immelmann, and that amazing flyer from EAGLE-LAND, John Boyd, and now he knew he was an ace himself. And he so loved to fly.
EAGLE built up his energy, climbed vertically and did a half loop. At the top of the loop he was flying inverted. He rolled back into the upright position. He had now gained altitude and had changed heading 180 degrees. He had reversed direction though at the cost of some speed.
He added power, accelerated, banked, did a swooping turn of extraordinary grace; and dived back to join CUCKOO. The reverse maneuver was called ‘The Immelmann Turn’ and Max had been Germany’s first flying ace during WW I before being shot down. He had been nicknamed ‘The Eagle of Lille.’
EAGLE knew he was better.
CUCKOO observed his maneuvers with professional interest and admiration. When you’re at your best, you’re beautiful, he reflected.