The Bald Eagle
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I sat on a bus stop bench and spotted a bald eagle on the sidewalk. Not only was he bald, but he was also overweight and wore a cheap brown suit that was too small for him. He strutted down the sidewalk and sat on the bench opposite me, where a vixen sat in a skirt with her legs crossed high. The bald eagle had a Swisher Sweet cigar that he shifted side to side out of his beak while he purred, “Listen, honey, borrow me ten bucks.”

The vixen crossed her arms and said, “You’ll just waste it on booze.”

The bald eagle put his right wing on her bronze legs, and she pushed him off and stood up. She said, “Bald eagles are supposed to be majestic, but you’re nothing but a drunk.” She strode away.

The eagle stood up and adjusted his belt buckle three times. He shuffled to my bench and sat. “Listen,” he said, “my name is Bud.” I didn’t say anything. I preferred to be alone and avoided others best I could, yet the mad ones and the drunks were attracted to me. His right eye twitched, and his suit had cigar burns all over it. He said, “What’s your name, son?”

  
 
“Ernie.”

“What do you do for a living?”

“Don’t have a job, but I’m headed downtown on the next bus to apply at a temp agency.”

Bud’s face lit up, and he exclaimed, “I think I’ll go with you and apply. They would give me preference too; after all, I’m a war veteran. I was in the Screaming Eagles Division.” He spat. “Listen, just ten bucks so I can buy a bottle, okay?”

It was worth ten dollars to get rid of him, so I gave him the money.

Bud said, “God bless you.” He strode off in his brown Hush Puppies, and I hoped that was the last of him.

An agonizing five minutes passed with no bus, and I heard Bud approach before I saw him; he hummed the “Star Spangled Banner” as he shuffled down the street, stopping every ten feet to take a hit from a bottle. I debated running for it. He shouted, “I thought of a new nickname for you. Do you wanna hear it?” I shook my head no, but he said, “Slim Shady.”

I couldn’t help but ask, “Why Slim Shady?”

“Cause you’re a snake in the grass!” He laughed and bent over beating his wings on the ground. I didn’t get his humor. He held the bottle up in front of him and sighed, “Damn, it’s almost gone.” He sat down next to me and said, “I got a great idea; let’s go get a big bottle of vodka. What ya say, Eric?”

“It’s Ernie, and no.”

“You pansy! I ought to kick your ass right now! Everyone hates you because you’re a drunk!” He finished the bottle and belched.

“Are you talking to me or yourself?”

Bud shouted, “You think you’re so much better than everybody, but you’re all right with me. You’re kind of handsome.”

I heard a bus. I stood up and spotted it, three blocks away with its hazards flashing, pulling up to a bus stop. I said, “On second thought, Bud, here. Take my last ten bucks. It’s all I have. You buy yourself whatever you want, and I’ll see you around.”

Bud said, “Back in a jiffy!”

I was about to tell him he didn’t need to return, but he was already gone. That bus seemed to move in slow motion through the hazy smog. I cursed it along, trying to force it to hurry up. I fished my bus tokens out of my pocket and prayed a Hail Mary. The bus arrived. I tripped on its steps and dropped the tokens on the floor. I shouted, “Go!”

The bus driver said, “Ain’t going anywhere until you get them tokens in, boy.”

I heard Bud shouting, “Ernie, wait!”

I gathered the tokens and pumped them in the slot. “Go!” I shouted.

The bus driver shut the door while Bud shouted, “Ernie!” The bus pulled forward. I sat down and smiled until I caught a glimpse of Bud running alongside the bus with a bottle tucked under his left wing. He tore his clothes off while he ran and was soon down to his underwear. He spread his wings and flew alongside the bus, beating the bottle against the door. The bus driver pulled to the shoulder and let Bud in. He used the change leftover from the booze to buy tokens and walked up the aisle in his underwear, carrying the bottle. The other bus riders averted their eyes while he passed them and sat down next to me. He said, “I got a plan. You and me, we rob a gas station or jewelry store or whatever. It’s foolproof.”

“How is that foolproof?” I asked.

“Because you can’t shoot a bald eagle. I’m an endangered species.” I nodded, even though I had heard the government removed bald eagles from endangered status. He continued, “I’ve got this twin brother; his name is Joe. He’s on the crazy side, but he’s got three guns…”

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