By Liza St. James - Dec 9, 2019
The usual buzzards were outside at the tables, the buzz among us of a wanted drone—a drone gone missing. We’d all seen the signs on the way over: DRONE GONE! 1K REWARD FOR RETURN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. We knew, too, whose drone it was. The neighborhood brat had destroyed the peace of our ritual morning croissants since Christmas.
When it first went missing there was some suspicion among us. Hank had left frustrated, his football team in shambles, Gus had always complained the loudest, adjusting his hearing aid with every pass overhead. Lenny was aggravated that the kid had so much time on his hands. That kid needs a job, he’d said. I never had time like that. Not before now.
That’s right, Hank said. We’ve earned this time.
Norman warned him once. Of all the places you could fly that thing! he yelled at the sky, loud enough for the kid to hear him. It was a perfect blue day, the trees were still, our coffees still hot. That hunk of junk is fish food, he muttered to the table. He looked up at Gus, a semi-retired fisherman. Er, it’s scrap metal. It’s going down, he said.
I looked around the table. I’d seen these guys through divorces, health scares, lost dogs, bad breaks, bad backs, DMV eye exams, Gus’s metatarsal fracture, shingles, chronic inflammation, the hospital routine, missing shoes, frozen pension plans, Lenny’s stolen identity, inflated bills, ill children, mean children, will revision, sadness, everyday tedium, youth envy, death envy, incessant senescence, the news—of earthquakes, wildfires, flash floods, drought, of moons having moons, of rebeavering in the west, of hurricanes in the south, in the north, heading east, of the ever-growing Pacific trash vortex—memory loss, brain aids, dead friends, extinction upon extinction upon impending mass extinction.
It’s too bad, really. Any one of us could have used the reward.
ARTWORK BY MALCOLM KENTER, PHOTOGRAPH BY NICK MAKANNA