With his ears lying flat on his head, Dusty appeared out of nowhere. He was running at full gallop and yapping with a flying and drooling tongue and wagging tail. Nevertheless, seeing
big Talon standing on the ground before Amos with his back to Dusty, not too far from him and not knowing what or who that was, Dusty stopped yapping and planted his front paws into the ground. Since he was in running motion, his hind legs couldn’t stop as fast
as his front legs did, so he stepped over his front legs with his hind legs. His hind body was pushed against his front legs, so now he looked like an accordion that was pushed together. Even his head was shoved into the ground.
Recovering quickly and stepping back with his hind legs, stretching himself, he stood stock-still, eyeing Talon. His muzzle was open, the tip of his red tongue could be seen, saliva was running down his flews and his tail was still high up in the air, but he held it stock-still. As a slight dust cloud rose up beside him, he sneezed. Slowly his tail dropped between his hind legs as he bent his knees until his tummy made contact with the ground. Not letting Talon out of his sight, his mouth closed, his head dropped as well until his muzzle touched the
At the first yapping noise, Talon’s head had snapped towards him then he turned around. Now they both eyed each other for several seconds. Next Dusty stood up a little, not to his full height, and stepped around, excited but agitated and not sure what to do. Not letting Dusty out of his sight, Talon slowly spread his huge wings wide, passing Amos’ legs.
Dusty’s legs started to shiver, seeing that Talon was growing in size and looked very majestic. Then Dusty’s whole body trembled considerably and his fur stood up on high at his neck and back. His tail flipped up in irritation, but then it disappeared between his hind legs again. Next, as if his legs couldn’t hold him up any longer, his legs gave way from under him and he dropped on his tummy with his head stretched out on the ground, obviously wanting to disappear into the ground. He started to whimper quietly through his closed mouth.
Talon grunted, annoyed at Dusty, pushing his head forward.
Everyone held their breaths, watching the outcome of that confrontation. There were always dogs around when Talon landed, but they kept their distance and mostly ran away as fast as they could, seeing him. Dusty was just too close for Talon.
But being so close to Talon, curiosity filled Dusty’s mind and made him bold. He finally wanted to know what that monster was. His tail flipped up as he raised his head.
Slowly and with wagging tail he prowled on his tummy closer to Talon. Suddenly he stood up and, with his neck stretched out, he paced forward step by step, not letting Talon out of his sight. Talon kept steady, just watched Dusty. Dusty stopped one metre in front of Talon and, lowering his head, he sniffed Talon then growled at him, not sure what to make of him and his smell. Talon grunted back and, stretching his neck, he sniffed at Dusty.
Now it was Talon’s turn to move step-by-step closer to Dusty with great curiosity.
Dusty watched every move Talon did. As Talon stood over Dusty and pushed his beak into his fur, sniffing his back, Dusty’s head whirled up and collided with Talon’s beak. Surprised, Talon’s head snapped up and, stepping back, he grunted.
Dusty, seeing him stepping back, became bold again. He barked at the majestic looking Talon with his tail wagging, but his fur still stood up at his neck.
Talon hissed at Dusty, cross by now, flapped his wings, looking even more majestic as he stood on his tiptoes as well. Next he screeched loudly.
Dusty, hearing him hissing and then screeching, closed his eyes and his ears flopped back in surprise while he started to whimper again. All his boldness was gone. With his head to the ground once more, he backed up with his tail between his legs again. Talon, snapping
at Dusty with his beak, pushed after him with his wings spread out, grunting angrily.
Dusty yowled and, like a leaf that was tossed around by a storm, turned around and ran away as fast as he could. Talon chased him but soon gave up.
That was the end of the encounter between Dusty and Talon.
Everyone laughed. The Indians went on their way, still laughing, and told the others about Dusty’s confrontation with Talon.
Dusty out of the way, Talon folded his wings to his body and, watching the departing Indians, proudly walked towards Matica with a raised head.
Amos’s eyes were glued to Talon in amusement while he had confronted his dog Dusty and watched him waddling to Matica. He has to pass me again to come to my lovely Matica, he thought, excited. Will he remember me? He stood in front of me before. Can I stroke him then? He didn’t think of the consequences, just hoped he could do it.
Amos’ wish and expectation rose skyward as he closed his eyes and prayed a quick prayer that Talon would come to him.
Talon Confronts Amos
But then Amos had to know where Talon was since he didn’t hear any sound or any noise at all. So, he opened one eye a wee bit to see if Talon had come a bit closer or if he was already by his friend. He held his breath since his eye met Talon’s eyes. He opened his other eye and stared at Talon as Talon stared at him with a cocked head. Now his heart sped up, pounding against his chest as if it wanted to jump out. He came, he came to me, Amos rejoiced inwardly. He came of his own accord. Thank you, Lord. You fulfilled my greatest wish. But let him come closer so I can touch him. Embrace him? Please let him come.
Grunting, Talon stepped closer until his dark brown breast-feathers engulfed his knees. Oh, I wish I had shorts on to feel his feathers. Amos’s eyes nearly popped out of his sockets. He was so thrilled that he sat completely still and couldn’t think anymore. He just let happen whatever Talon would do to him, because he was sure that Talon had something else in his mind. Why else would he come to him?
Even though he could not feel Talon’s feathers through his jeans, Amos moved his knees slightly, rubbing them through his feathers, feeling Talon’s body heat soaking through. Talon first looked at his rubbed tummy then he poked and sniffed at Amos’ tucked-away hands between his knees. Holding his breath once more, Amos took out his hands, palms up. Talon laid his head into one of his hands and Amos rubbed him under his chin with his fingertips. Lifting his other hand slowly, so as not to alarm Talon, Amos caressed him over his beak, his eyes, his head and neck then down his shoulder and immersed his hand into his wing feathers. Talon, without complaining, let it happen.
Next Talon lifted his head and, stretching out his neck, he leaned his head against Amos’ chest. As Amos embraced him with his arms, he heard and felt him purring. He can purr, Amos thought, amazed, looking into Talon’s face and seeing the brightest grin he could
But suddenly and very fast, Talon twisted away and hopped to Matica. ‘He remembered you, Amos,’ Matica said, surprised but with burning eyes.
Aikon whispered, ‘Talon shouldn’t have done that.’
Matica shrugged her shoulders and whispered back, ‘Talon did it out of his free will. No one told him to do it. I couldn’t hold him back.’
Mira grinned, happy for Amos, knowing of his desire.
After a while Amos’ tongue untied and he said after Talon, ‘Thank you, Talon.’
Talon, rounding the table to come to Matica, turned his head and grunted.
‘Did he just say, you are welcome?’ Amos asked. Matica nodded. ‘Amazing. He purred, Mat.’ His eyes shone like a burning furnace.
‘I know. He can do that. He enjoyed it with you,’ Matica said, grinning.
Amos said with a shaking voice, closing his eyes, ‘It was amazing.’
Then they heard Raphael’s little voice behind Amos. ‘Amos, what … what …’
Amos turned around, grabbed his brother and placed him on his lap then said, ‘Were you afraid of Talon so you hid behind me? No need to be, you know.’
But Raphael just looked after Talon and frowned, saying nothing.
Shaking her head in disbelief at what she had just witnessed with Talon and Amos, Mira cleared the table then took the lunch dishes inside.
As soon as the table was cleared, Talon leaped out of Matica’s embrace and hopped up on the table and spread his wings. Talon’s wing collided with Amos’ face then he stroked him over his chest and arm. Amos was delighted and didn’t move away. Raphael bent away and out of his brother’s arm, standing beside him now, watching what Talon would do to his brother. Amos grinned awkwardly and stroked his cheek. ‘That’s cool.’
Talon strutted proudly on the table. Matica interpreted it, whispering, ‘Look at me. Did I do well with Amos? Didn’t he want that from me? I know Amos and my lady love each other. So I did that, because I now love Amos as well. And now, do I look impressive, or what?’ Talon walked up and down the table with his wings widely spread and his head craned back.
Mira, smiling, walked back to the table, as she had seen Talon and heard her daughter’s whisper. ‘Talon, are you showing off again?’ she said to him and stroked his head then down his beak and said, impressed, ‘I know you’re a wonderful bird. The best. I love you.’
Stretching his neck, Talon nibbled gently at Mira’s hair. ‘Yes, I know you love me. I love you too. You’re such a magnificent bird. Yes, you’re our superstar.’ She sat down.
Amos watched them together, then looked at Matica, saying, ‘What a loving and caring bird he is.’ He stretched out his hand to Talon. Talon stretched out his neck to him and nibbled at his fingers then at his face and Amos stroked him over his beak. ‘Magnificent
Talon.’ Tears ran down his cheeks. As Talon licked them off, Amos grimaced. It tickled him.
‘He licks off our tears as well,’ Aikon said. ‘He must like the salt in it. Anyway, he smells you so he’ll know your scent forever.’
‘That’s cool. Thank you Talon for letting me pat you. It really means a lot to me. You really are the greatest. Please let me be your friend forever,’ said Amos.
Talon grunted and bowed his head at Amos. ‘Did he say: as you wish?’
‘Yes, he did,’ Matica confirmed, laughing. ‘As before, he’s a wellmannered bird.’
‘Why did he do that? I mean come to me.’
‘Tja, Amos, I wish I knew. But I believe,’ she said, looking at Talon, ‘Talon feels that we, well, that we … you know.’ She grinned and blushed.
Amos nodded. ‘Yes, and that we might work together. Talon, you, me.’
‘Something like that.’ She was flushed. Oh, that would be great.
‘Well, you know, I thought of becoming a wildlife ranger, with you and Talon on my side.’ Amos looked from Matica to Talon.
Matica looked at her mother. Mira grinned brightly and nodded.
‘Anytime, you know,’ Amos went on. Next he bent over Matica and whispered, ‘I heard what you whispered before what you might thought Talon was thinking. I thought that too. I love it.’ He grinned at her. Then, standing up again and looking at Talon, he said, ‘Well, I better get going and let you fly on Talon so we have time to study later. Come on, Raphael.’
Raphael, standing stock-still beside his brother all the time, was still in shock when Amos took his hand, bringing him back to reality. Both waved goodbye.
Matica said, ‘Amos, please don’t tell anyone what Talon did to you, okay? No one needs to know, yet. It’s better that way. And Raphael, please don’t mention it to anyone.’
‘We understand. We will not tell a soul,’ Raphael agreed happily.
Aikon ran after them to play with his friend.
‘Talon,’ Matica said when they were gone, ‘do you think that Amos and I are working together as wildlife rangers and you will help us?’
Talon kissed her.
‘Interesting. You all-knowing bird, you. But how do you know that? Can you feel it? Probably, hey? Well, you probably feel, as well, that we love each other.’
‘Mat, do you really think that? You both together?’ Mira asked, curious.
Matica shrugged, flushing again and looking a bit forlorn. ‘Maybe. Talon and I feel that.’
‘That would be great, you know.’ She embraced her daughter. ‘So we can all stay here, as I said earlier. I really would love that, you know. And you … well …’
‘Mum, don’t put your hopes too high. We don’t know yet, and if Amos …’
‘I know. It’s just a thought. Talon likes Amos. That is obvious now. And Talon knows that you like him. Love him? Yes, you do. He’s a handsome boy.’ She patted Matica’s rosy cheeks as she smiled shyly. ‘It’s all right. You’re still young, but yes, I agree to it. Well, anyway, it will be a while still. Besides, I think Talon enjoyed it.’
‘Yes, that’s true,’ Matica nodded. ‘I had that feeling too.’
To break out of that awful situation she had put herself in, she said, ‘Come, Talon, we’ll fly from here so Mum can see us.’
Don’t forget your with the…’ but Mira stopped with her thumbs up, seeing her daughter running into the house to get her warm poncho with sleeves. At the same time, Talon hopped from the table and walked towards Matica as she ran out again, throwing her poncho over her head and pulling her arms through the sleeves. He turned around to let her lie on his back; however, hearing yapping noises, Talon, curious but leaving his wings spread out, cocked
his head to listen then walked towards the noise. Matica, narrowing her eyes, thought: a new challenge for him? Or is he thinking of Dusty again? And truly enough Dusty, with a wild, wagging tail, yapping and barking, appeared out of nowhere once more.
Talon, surprised that Dusty would yet again confront him, loved the new challenge and ran grunting into Dusty’s way with spreadout wings. Dusty, either he couldn’t stop so fast or hadn’t seen Talon, bumped with full speed into Talon’s tummy then bounced away, looking surprised up at Talon. Talon folded his wings slowly to his body. First Dusty’s fur stood up at his neck and back as he realised into whom he had bumped but then he rolled upside down, his foldup legs in the air. He was squeaking, apologising; however, Talon poked his beak into his soft tummy and hissed at him. Dusty’s legs were tumbling around his beak, irritating Talon. So Talon grabbed one of Dusty’s legs in his beak and pulled.
Dusty continuously squeaked in fright, struggling and trying to pull his leg out of Talon’s beak by pushing his other leg against his beak. But Talon wouldn’t let go, yet. Dusty then squeaked out so loud that Talon rolled his eyes and let go of his leg. Once more free, Dusty rolled on his tummy and crawled step-by-step slowly backwards, having had enough of Talon. Talon watched him go. Thinking that he must be far enough away from Talon, Dusty suddenly yowled out, turned and ran away as fast as he could, his tail between his legs.
The second meeting ended as quickly as it had begun.
But Talon wasn’t finished with Dusty yet. He wanted to give him a lesson he would never forget. So, Talon ran after him with flapping wings. Dusty must have heard him because he stopped briefly and looked back at Talon, then he ran on.
As soon as Talon gained on him Dusty squeaked out and yowled out then fell on his tummy, trying to make himself very small. Next he rolled on his back, his bent legs in the air again, giving up. Just as Talon was on top of him, he lifted off and became airborne.
While Talon flew over Dusty’s tummy, he grabbed two of Dusty legs with his claws. Dragging him along but not gaining altitude yet, Dusty squeaked in terror the whole time.
But soon Talon let him go. Dusty fell the half metre back to earth, yowling. As soon as he hit the ground – strangely enough he landed on his legs, like a cat would – he ran yowling away with his tail between his legs as if a puma was chasing him. Talon screeched out loud, laughing, then gained altitude.
Amos watched, amused at the second confrontation and said, laughing but amazed, ‘He escaped me, but Talon gave him a lesson and showed him who was the boss. You were right, Matica. No flying feathers – that would never be – but most likely flying fur if Dusty would confront Talon ever again.’
‘Poor Dusty,’ Matica said, still watching him run. ‘Did you see all the other dogs watching that?’
‘Yes, they will never bother Talon. It serves Dusty right,’ Amos said, laughing.
Seeing Talon in the air, Dusty stopped and looked up at Talon, but then he ran home with a retracted tail, still whimpering.
Talon screeched again, swooping low over Matica now. Matica yelled, ‘He’s calling me to follow him! Bye Amos! See you later!’ Then she yelled to Talon in the air, ‘I’m coming!’ As she kissed her mother goodbye she said, ‘I hoped we could fly from here so you could have seen how I lie on Talon. But it looks like it won’t happen.’
‘It’s all right. Will the poncho be in the way when you fly? You didn’t have one on yesterday to try it out,’ her mother asked, a bit concerned.
Unconcerned, Matica just waved back. ‘It will all be good. I’ll squeeze it between my legs. t least I am warm then.’
‘That’s true. And that’s good. Have fun. See you later.’ She waved after her daughter.