Sonny Ray sat at the little dinette table contemplating the minimum qualifications for feeling like a fish. The thought of being a marlin flashed through his mind, hooked, but still fighting to get away. Sonny Ray dove deeply into the ocean of his memory, shaking left, then right trying his best to arrange, rearrange, analyze and recall the entirety of his life, or at the very least; the way he thought it was up until about a week or so ago. Like the marlin, every so often he would come up out of the water trying desperately, instinctively, to shake loose the one thing that reeled him ever closer to the boat; the unyielding, and merciless memories of the past. The sound of the screen door broke the line, and for the time being Sonny Ray was free. Dwayne pulled the screen door shut, and walked into the kitchen. “Morning,” Sonny Ray offered. Dwayne nodded, somber as he poured some coffee. “So where is Cyrus?” Sonny Ray asked, trying to sound casual like he had known the old man his whole life. “Cyrus is not doing too well today,” Dwayne replied. “What do you mean?” Dwayne paused. He was about to say out loud what he had attempted to push from his thoughts for the last two months. “Sonny Ray Cyrus is dying.” Sonny Ray heard the words but his memory was sufficiently obligated. He had no room for a file of this enormity. He didn’t want to file share it, download it, none of that. “I didn’t want to drop this on you until you and your, Cyrus talked first.” Sonny Ray sat staring at his coffee swirling in his cup. He put down his spoon, and looked up at Dwayne. “So what does he want from me?” Sonny Ray asked. “He wants you to claim responsibility for the black eagle,” Dwayne said straight away. “Did I miss something? Black eagle? Oh I get it. Are you talking about that gigantic black whatever it was that was sitting on the windowsill earlier?” Dwayne nodded, knowing how it must have sounded. “Does he want me to feed it or something? Well if that’s the favor, sure why not.” Sonny Ray was rambling. He was beginning to feel like a retread on a tractor trailer tire that had just blown out. He was disintegrating, leaving shards of his brittle and rubber like emotions; up and down the highway of his mind. Sonny Ray sat alone sitting quietly drinking another cup of coffee. Dwayne had walked out back to the hogan to give the old man some coffee, and a piece of toast so he could take his medication.
As little Raye lay sleeping, Nikko slipped out of bed. After putting on her robe and slippers she found her way to the kitchen. “Hey.” “Morning sweetie, how’d you sleep?” “Really good Sonny Ray, and you?” “So, so.” After pouring a cup of coffee Nikko sat down across from Sonny Ray at the little table. “I think it would be best if Raye and I flew back to Vegas. I have to be back to work not to mention my American Literature final on Friday.” Sonny Ray did not immediately respond.
“I just think you should stay and give Dwayne a hand with your, your, with Cyrus.” Sonny Ray leaned over the table and kissed his wife slowly on the lips. Nikko would go on line after breakfast and book a flight. Sonny Ray would talk to Dwayne about getting his family to the Phoenix airport. Nikko and Sonny Ray talked for a bit. Nikko related her walk with Cyrus, and how she first saw the black eagle. She also related to her husband about seeing the large eagle when her and little Raye had left the mall in Tucson, the day before the funeral. What really freaked her out was the dream that Cyrus had, about them. Lastly she related Cyrus’ request to have his ashes spread near Shiprock Peak, New Mexico. Even though Nikko had reservations about the situation as a whole, she was happy that her husband could help. Nikko could not believe all that had transpired in the last week. Nikko was angry with Wanda. She couldn’t fathom how she kept such a dark secret. It was no wonder that Sonny Ray had little faith or trust in his own mother. It was going to be a busy day. Dwayne cleared the breakfast dishes from the table. Cyrus stood up from the table.
He motioned to Sonny Ray with his eyes. The two men walked out back, past the hogan, and finally down a few rock steps, that lead to the clearing. After placing Sonny Ray, Cyrus walked another fifty feet further into the clearing alone. Cyrus produced, and placed a large thick glove onto his right hand. Cyrus began to call to his companion. Cyrus made a variety of sounds. Sonny Ray stood quietly watching the old man, and scanning the tree line at the same time. The black eagle had heard, and glided silently over the whispering pines of Arizona. After locating Cyrus the large predator began it’s descent. Sonny Ray had to smile. The black eagle landed without fanfare, as this was old hat to Cyrus and his winged friend. As it feasted Cyrus stroked the eagle gently, speaking to it in low inaudible sounds. Without warning Cyrus pushed the black eagle upward, causing it to instinctively take to flight. Cyrus took off his leather glove, perhaps for the last time. He motioned Sonny Ray over. “Put this on.” Sonny Ray complied. Cyrus turned the young man in the direction he should stand. “You stand still. I will call to it from behind you. Keep your hand up, he will come.” The old man spoke with a reassuring tone. Sonny Ray nodded. The young man tried to pretend he was relaxed, but he
wasn’t. Sonny Ray spotted the large eagle perched in a tree about five hundred yards away. Sonny Ray half way hoped it wouldn’t come. Cyrus began to call. For what seemed like an eternity, the black eagle sat, unmoved by the familial calls. It’s attention was divided. Initially to the old man who did not wear the aged glove of comfort. The black eagle shifted his attention to the young man who wore the leather glove. Cyrus called out again. The large bird leapt from his perch, and began a slow circular observation of the two men. As it possessed a higher station above the men; it had ascertained that their blood flowed from the same stream. Sonny Ray admired the smooth fluid motion of this invisible predator from the skies.
It flew in the direction of Cyrus, preparing to land. As the black prepared to land, it could not see the familiar glove. For the first time ever, Cyrus waved off his old friend. The eagle turned and circled back again. This scene was repeated several times. Finally, it circled once more, and began it’s descent in the direction of Sonny Ray. It was at eye level now, bearing down on Sonny Ray. He held his gloved hand chest high. The black eagle dropped his landing gear. The large yellow claws seemed hungry for the glove. It was
twenty feet away and closing fast. Sonny Ray tried not to but could not help but to squint just a little. The large black eagle appeared to defy gravity as it landed swiftly, but gently onto the gloved hand of this young stranger. The energy transference exchanged between the two beings surged back and forth between the two worlds. He was not sure what just had occurred, but he was gonna go
with it. Sonny Ray had no words. His face felt frozen in amazement. Sonny Ray could feel the strength of the black eagle; from the tip of it’s claws to the aquiline point of it’s beak. Sonny Ray slowly made quiet eye contact from the now still and curious eagle. It was then that he became genuinely afraid. This was the same black eagle that had invaded his dreams, he was sure of it. The large black eyes of the eagle were watching, searching. It was as if it could see more of what a person really wanted to share. There was no room for lies or deception. This was no ordinary eagle. Were any of them ordinary? After today he would never make that assumption again. The old man walked up to Sonny Ray slowly. Cyrus began to chuckle. “Scared yeah?” Sonny Ray nodded sheepishly. “In time you will be more afraid without him then you are right now with him.” Sonny Ray was all over the board now emotionally, and didn’t have the courage to ask the old man what he meant. The old man stood quietly looking at his old friend sitting on the hand of his son. Sonny Ray detected the hurt in the old man’s eyes. “This eagle will always belong to you,” Sonny Ray said, at a loss for words. The old man smiled slightly, shaking his head. “No my son, you are mistaken. The black eagle dream belongs to the creator. Now today, you have been properly introduced. You must be sensitive to it’s leading, for it is to you that it will come, as long as you live.” Dwayne continued to load the truck with various supplies. The three men would soon depart for New Mexico.