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Dead Bird Society

Tale Told... Lesson Learned?

By Kendall Defoe Published about a month ago Updated about a month ago 7 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Dead Bird Society
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

This is based on Randy Baker's prompt:

Inspired by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Let me be clear about what happened…

I was on my way to the wedding.

Okay, let me be a little more clear about that…

I was stuck in traffic on my way to the wedding.

The thing is, I decided that the best way to get there was going to be by the 404 heading west. There was no traffic notices up online, and I knew that Sunday was going to have beautiful weather. On top of all of that, I was the best man, so I had a lot of responsibilities on my plate, like making sure that I actually showed up on time.

And a million times again, I am sorry for what happened.

But I have good reasons for my absence.

Traffic was one of the excuses… Got as far as the third interchange before I noticed that we were all slowing down. Got wedged in with two trucks on my left and right, with an RV right in front, and I could not see anything but wheels and mud flaps when I looked around. Worst thing was where we stopped… Right under an overpass. Not a single word about this situation on the news, but that was because I could barely get a signal on the radio. I tried calling but my line was garbage with all the cars around me (very few bars). At least it was the middle of the day and I didn’t have to hit the bathroom or try and see if the suit fit (I had the tux on and could only imagine what the other drivers thought of me…if they could see me). No, traffic was only one of the problems.

The other problem was him.

Weird looking guy with that outfit… You would have thought he floated out of one of those fantasy novels I used to read as a kid. And what the hell was he doing walking there, anyway? He was just on the edge of the road, walking like he had found the best sidewalk, and trying to grab my attention.


I really wish I had sprung for tinted windows. Even in that space, he was like an animal who could smell when something got cornered; like something that was going to be a part of my day whether I wished for it or not.


Well, I could not run. Like I said, the doors on both sides led into the trucks that seemed indifferent to my vehicle. Wonder now why he did not try to talk to any of the people in them. Wish I had a chance to reverse or somehow get into the back seat, but…

“Mister… I’m sorry. But do you have a minute?”

Now, you might be wondering why I could hear him so clearly. I had my phone out and was trying to record anything about this jam (my plan was to sue someone for not informing us about this; my firm would love this type of case). But then, he showed up and walked up to my vehicle…

And like I said, he was different.

He had on some kind of poncho and hat that made me think of Clint Eastwood, if Eastwood was over a thousand years old, lived under a bridge and decided to support every environmental cause on Earth. His poncho was covered in badges and buttons for Greenpeace, Earth First, World Wildlife Federation, and on and on (remember, I was filming everything). He had on jeans as well, I think. It was actually hard to tell with the stains on it that ended at a pair of boots that looked like they had given up their soles ages ago. That was all on my smartphone. Glad I filmed it (I'll show it to you one day).


I rolled down the window. He wasn't getting in, and I wasn't getting out, so why not?

“Yeah, what?”

“Your vehicle is going to be here for a while.”

“No shit.” I knew he could probably see what was ahead of us.

He was standing in front of my vehicle, right behind a RV that probably had no idea what was going on behind it.

“I think you’re stuck. You may miss your wedding.”

A little creepy, I thought, but then I remembered my outfit.

“Yeah, thanks for that. I’m the best man.”

Why did I say that?

The man smiled, flashing what remained of his teeth, and I wondered if I was being pranked.

“I know what it’s like to be stuck.”

He just stood there as I sat there, waiting for some sort of miracle to take place.

“I have a story to tell.”


Well, what can I say? Remember, I was stuck in traffic and there was nothing I could do about it. May as well listen to some old guy wandering around with something to amuse me. And he was old… I could see that when he got closer. If you ask me now, I say that he would be the perfect Merlin or Gandalf if they ever made another of those films.

“I was a ship’s captain…”

A good start. He sat on the bumper of the RV in front of me as he spoke and I wondered if I was the only one getting a front-row seat to this.

“One day, I saw an albatross in my space…and I killed it.”

Okay, now I was getting nervous. He kept sitting there, but I wondered if he was going to start ranting about birds and how they were trying to control his brain. At least he had all that environmental nonsense on him, so I knew he probably cared about “communing with nature” (heard that once somewhere).

And then he began to cry.

“Hey, what…? Don’t cry.”

Yeah, a wise thing to say, because it always stops them from weeping, right?

“It was all my fault. All my fault…”

“What’s your fault? You said you killed a bird that was interfering with your boat.”

He looked up again, smiled, and wiped his face very slowly.

“We got stuck out there. Our engine broke down, so we tried switching to sails, but we got no wind. Felt like ages. And the crew were so angry with me that they…”

I was just hoping for the traffic to move. That was the reason why I did not want to say anything.

“They put it on me.”

“Put what on you? You can’t control the wind.”

“No.” He was looking up at the dying light. “They put the albatross around my neck and forced me to wear it.”

I checked the locks.

“They made you…wear a bird?”

“Yeah, like a necklace… A long time…”

I had to say something about this.

“Y’know, if you get a good lawyer, I’m sure that there are damages you could sue for. Maybe naval law…”

“They are all dead. Gambled with our situation and died.”

I double-checked the locks.

“I got rescued and had my first proper drink of water in a week. It was glorious. And they wondered about the men and women who died, but it was clear that the elements took them. So many questions about it… And now, I tell my stories and hope people get the message.”

He pointed at his badges and buttons, tapping the WWF one several times.

“We are all connected.”

I nodded.

“We have to take care of this world.”

I kept nodding.


And then he was up and off onto the median strip, taking what I guessed was his usual stroll into the darkness.


Honestly, I don’t how long it was before the traffic started moving again. All I know is that it was late, and I could make it to the reception with my apologies and a pretty interesting story for you and yours.

The other strange thing is what happened when I got there.

You know that the parking lot is right beside the main entrance, but that there is a small river running past it. It was a beautiful evening and I could see people inside the place finding their seats. I stepped out and opened the back seat to find my gift when I heard something land on my car.

It was a bird.

Now, I know you think this is BS, but that must have been an albatross. Too big for a seagull, and it did not look like a damn duck or geese. It just landed on the hood, stayed motionless for a moment, and then seemed to be staring at me as I moved away, like it wanted to challenge me for territory.

Or as if the story was not finished.

Anyway, that’s my excuse. I know that we really did not get to talk during the reception – I tried not to draw too much attention from the happy couple – but I wanted to send this email to you, and to let you know…I’m finally heading to the Caribbean! Two weeks of rest and hopefully no drama.

I’ll be on the lookout for more birds and salty dogs!

I’ve been told that they like to hang around during these trips…

See you soon,


By Colin Lloyd on Unsplash


Thank you for reading!

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You can find more poems, stories, and articles by Kendall Defoe on my Vocal profile. I complain, argue, provoke and create...just like everybody else.

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About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

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Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (18)

  • Donna Fox (HKB)26 days ago

    Congrats on Top story Kendall!! This was a great, thought provoking story!! I like the element of "things happen for a reason" that drives this story!! Great work!

  • Roy26 days ago

    Congrats on your top story 👏

  • Congrats on your victory.

  • Carol Townend27 days ago

    This is a very well-written and thought-out story. It is extremely engaging, and the narrative hooked me right to the very end. Well done on your excellent story.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Abdul Qayyum28 days ago

    Excellent. You really brought this to life

  • Randy Baker28 days ago

    Glad to see you got Top Story for this one. Much deserved.

  • Cathy holmes28 days ago

    Really well done, Kendall. Congrats on the TS.

  • Hannah Moore28 days ago

    I thought I'd commented on this but I see no comment! Definitely said something about combining the weirdness and the wisdom so well.

  • Hannah Moore28 days ago

    Excellent. You really brought this to life, the weirdness and the wisdom.

  • Christy Munson29 days ago

    Emotional piece so lovingly rendered. Great job, Kendall.

  • Joe O’Connorabout a month ago

    Really well done, I liked the use of dialogue in this piece, it really helps to add feeling!

  • Kageno Hoshinoabout a month ago

    Funny lol

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha he had to wear that bird like a necklace! Gosh this story was hilarious and I loved it!

  • Novel Allenabout a month ago

    Now I have got to read this old tale to get the full story. I was on the edge of my seat...ominous business at the end there. Heading to the Caribbean for the final Vodoo bird saga. Good choice. Enjoyable read. Will check out the challenge.

  • M. Leeabout a month ago

    What an enjoyable read! Really loved your descriptions, especially this sentence: “ He had on some kind of poncho and hat that made me think of Clint Eastwood, if Eastwood was over a thousand years old, lived under a bridge and decided to support every environmental cause on Earth.” Not only does it give a clear picture of the character but also lets us know what kind of person the narrator is. Great work!

  • Mark Gagnonabout a month ago

    Okay, you got me! I was expecting a demon or something, but he said his piece and walked away and a bird took his place. Of course, I never read The Rhym of the Ancient Marriner so I probably missed the analogy.

  • D. J. Reddallabout a month ago

    A witty and wise improvisation upon Coleridge's classic! Well done!

Kendall Defoe Written by Kendall Defoe

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