The Fawning Capitulation of Javier Nuñez

I don’t know why I’m doing this. It’s so disgusting. It’s so humiliating. I’m better than this, I’m better than this! Javier rips an eye from the deer carcass, blood having already soaked his white feathered head, and gobbles it down begrudgingly. The minutes-long tussle of the tug of war between his wake greedily trying to gulp as much as each bird can, is a weekly occurrence that he’s absolutely repulsed by. The sounds of the carcass being pulled across the grass for several inches, only to be pulled back the opposite direction, the droning of the flies buzzing endlessly barely drowns out the greedy gulps and squawks. The feast only lasts for several minutes; Javier carries each one prominently in his memory.

 

Javier flies up and away before the wake finishes, eager to leave the grisly feast. He soars through the sky, searching out his best friend, his only confidant, James. Tears fill his eyes as pieces of each grisly feeding flash in his mind. The tearing, the ripping, the jostling and jockeying for position, the hunger driving each of them…he’s made up his mind. No more! I can’t do it ever again! He’ll find James and say goodbye; he knows where he’s going to do it. He’s been eyeing that particular bridge over the ravine for quite some time, fantasizing more and more as each day went by. He knew this inevitable day would come as he gouged the eye out of that last deer. That was the final straw; the breaking point of a lifetime of abhorrence towards what he is.

 

He spots James, descending in a quick dive, cawing out a welcome for him to hear. The wolf’s keen ears turn before his head does, a doggie grin engulfing his face at his friend. “James, I just can’t do it anymore! That’s it, that’s the last time, I’ve had enough!” The vulture exclaims to him. The wolf replies, “Okay, okay, slow down! Start at the beginning, tell me what happened?”

 

“I can’t. Never again! You hear me? You’ve been a great friend to me, James, but I’m just not a vulture, I was never meant to be one! That’s it, I’m going to that bridge over the ravine and I’m gonna jump! I just wanted to say goodbye, old friend.” Javier jumps up lightly into the air, beating his massive wings and propelling himself upwards against gravity. “Javier! Wait!” James calls out as his friend takes flight. I can make it if I run fast enough, he thinks as he begins bounding over rocks and up over the hill towards the ravine.

 

Javier flies down and lands on the ledge of the bridge. The images are flashing faster and faster now, clearer, and more vivid in each instance. “AAAAHHHH!!!!” He screams aloud as he begins to teeter over the edge. “Javier, don’t do it!” James pants as he’s catching his breath in the middle of the bridge. Javier looks back towards his only friend, tears in his eyes. “I just can’t anymore. I won’t ever again,” he whispers back to the wolf as his tears patter onto the ledge of the bridge.

 

James’s ears are flat against his head, “But you’re my best friend and I love you. Remember the first time we met, Javier? You tried to kill yourself that day, remember? You flew down just as me and my pack were about kill that buck. You put your neck between my fangs and his neck but did I kill you then? I could have, but something in your eyes…Javier we talked for hours. Neither of us ate, that day. Don’t you see what you are, what you’ve made me see in myself? Don’t you see you’re more than just a vulture? Don’t you-“ The car is almost a blur of red. It doesn’t stop, doesn’t slow, doesn’t alter course as it flattens the wolf. James’s body spins around the front right tire and hits the wheel well with an audible yet completely silencing thump. “NNNNOOOOOO!!!” Javier screams it aloud but can’t hear it. He can’t hear his friend’s body thud wetly against the blacktop. He can’t hear the flies already beginning to buzz around the almost corpse. He can’t hear his wake squawking out their greedy cries as they circle their next meal. He can’t hear his tears as they drop endlessly towards the ground, pattering on the concrete next to his friend.

 

And just as quick, his wake is on the ground, greedily jostling for position on the still twitching remains of his friend’s broken, barely alive body. “Javier…you’re more…than this. Don’t…don’t let it…consume you…” His friend, his confidant, his brother, whispers, barely audible, with his dying breath. Just as James exhales, a beak is shoved into his mouth and his tongue is ripped out, blood sprays outwards in an arc and lands on Javier’s head. The white feathers there are thick and drenched from the previous meal, heavy with blood as it drips towards the ground.

 

He looks back, towards the drop-off. A yearning for what he could be, what he’s always dreamed to be; all his hopes and dreams end at the bottom of that ravine. He looks back to the feast of his friend, at everything he despises about himself, everything repulsive and disgusting and wrong. His clawed foot hesitates over the edge as he lifts it, preparing to fall forward, ending the nightmare.

 

That’s when the hunger strikes; the primal, carnal need to tear flesh asunder, to peel it from the bones of anything festered and rotting and swallow it down greedily. He turns towards James’s corpse and hops down from the ledge, plunging his beak down into the socket, ripping out his friend’s still wet eye, crushing it in his mouth and gulping it down greedily. He can hear the flies buzzing angrily, the tearing sinew and the body pulled and jostled back and forth. He hears it all as he cries out hungrily for more.

 

©Ramon Sturdivant

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