The man sat for a while in silence. It was not an awkward silence. He wasn’t conjuring or pausing for effect, but recalling. Peter knew he was recalling, from the way his eyes shifted, the pained look and flexed cheek. He regretted taking the photo now.
“You look strange, like a bird. You’re a weird boy aren’t you?”
“You come to the park, taking photos of strangers, peering from a distance before approaching. I saw you from behind the tree… you’re not so slender, you know?"
“Why like a bird?”
“Birds are different. No human can teach a bird, you see. You’re like a bird, boy. Even the way you look through your one eye, head to the side. You hide behind a tree, waiting to seize an opportunity, unsure of your surroundings. I knew a bird like you once. She shined, metallic and smooth. Her hair was dark and oily. A different type of bird, boy. You’re a scavenger, one I can tolerate. Just beware of the birds of prey."
“You’re fucking crazy."
“Watch your mouth. You’re right about one thing, though, I am a little crazy, but she was the one that made me crazy. Beware of the birds of prey, boy. There is one out there hunting all of us."
“Here’s your money."
Metallic and shiny, it fell onto the subject’s lap, and Peter hopped away, legs two at a time.
When Peter got home he googled ‘birds of prey’: Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food using their keen senses, especially vision.
He knew now - Genevieve, bird of prey. He remembered once in the car, when she had been driving him to Tuba practice – being unable to drive because of his issue – she pointed out a lone sheep on a hill, which he never saw.
“Where is it?! I can’t see anything…” he remembers saying.
“It’s up there. You can't see it? I guess I was just born with special vision. Just like you were born with your special brain. My Dad calls me Eagle Eye."
Peter’s father had given him no nickname, no legacy.
At the time he’d thought of her as special, like him. He even asked her if she ever wondered whether there was something behind the sky, and if there was, what would be stored there. He asked her if she knew the correct term for the space between the couch and the wall, and that if it was just ‘gap’, why was there a special word for the space between his bathroom tiles.
She had never answered him with any authority, and he assumed it was because she wasn’t special like him.