1965 was a good year. That was the year that Sonny Ray learned how to fly. He had attended a private school to learn. As it turns out, no one else knew about it because it’s founder, CEO, and flight instructor was only five years old. Sonny Ray had discovered his hidden talent in Japan, while dreaming in his bed one night. He lived on Misawa Air Force Base with his family. Sonny Ray called his school; the Run, Bounce, and Fly school of Japan. While his father fought bravely in Vietnam on behalf of politicians, and drug traffickers the world over, Sonny Ray honed his fledgling flying skills. After school, he would walk the steep hills of the Air base, storing the breadth and the length of these mighty air strips; in his mind. This was done in the hopes of glorious flight come bed time. The premise for flight was simplistic in nature. In order to get air, thus freeing yourself to fly wherever it is you wished to go, you first had to run very, very fast. Secondly, it was the head flight instructors opinion that success could be acheived by running down the aforementioned steep hills. The second stage of flight, and perhaps the most crucial, was the bounce. It was all about timing really. When Sonny Ray grew up he recalled that his flight school protocol very much mirrored the track and field
event of the hop, skip, and jump. You just had to feel it. When you did, and you found that sweet spot; you were up and away, cruising the perilous skies of yesteryear. In his diminutive, and inexperienced tenure in life, and in flight, Sonny Ray made the grievous error of attempting flight after consuming great quantities of his mom’s world famous spaghetti and meat balls. There was something about the properties of pasta that caused his night visions, his dreams, to have the ability to at times be, extremely prodigious. Not to be deterred, he began his flight as he had previously; by promptly crashing. After his first dry run, Sonny Ray got that look of conviction, teeth gritting, and just plain old holding your mouth right; because this five year old kid was born to run, to bounce, to fly. Sonny Ray hit his mark and he was flying.
This flight however, was by far the scariest to date.
The five year old Sonny Ray immediately felt like his body had become powerless. With his arms and legs in super hero mode; there was only one thing that made this flight disconcerting; and it was the fact that he lacked the ability to control in what direction of flight this dream was leading him. Sonny Ray could see that he was being led away from the Japanese archipelago, and out to sea. Sonny Ray made several attempts to steer himself in the direction of where his family lay sleeping. But to no avail. Being so far from land Sonny Ray grew weary from the struggle. Flying over the pacific ocean, the yellow moonlight penetrated the soft and shimmering surface of the sea, dispersing it’s translucent light in a sensuous pairing of effectual creation. The light comforted the little boy, and his body began to relax. Sonny Ray looked ahead, and he thought he saw a big mountain jutting out of the sea. After only a few minutes Sonny Ray was sure he spotted land. The closer he came to land however, the more he knew he was not in Japan anymore. Even at his age he knew and respected the power of dreams. His tutu had taught him that. His grandma was a quiet soul. Yet she knew that life, her life, consisted of much more than the physical. She understood the source of the evil, and cruelty that resided in the earth. She was a hawaiian woman from a different place and time. In the distance the little boy could see the glow of lava flowing out from kilauea. Sonny Ray continued on his flight, as his sublime self consciousness brought him home once again.
It had not been quite a year since his grandma had died. Sonny Ray spotted his uncle Walters house. Soon he circled his grandma’s house, and began to descend. Sonny Ray had become fixated on his feet, and had failed to pay attention to where he was landing. As in all his flights, he landed as soft as a feather. Sonny Ray looked around and realized he had landed in the Imiola church cemetery. Many of his relatives were buried there. His grandma had died of cancer right before the little boy’s father had received his orders to Japan. Sonny Ray wondered why the black eagle He heard a scraping noise, and slowly turned around. His blood ran cold. His feet were hot. In the corner of the cemetery where his grandmother had been laid to rest, there was the aluminum casket that she had been buried in. It sat upon the grass and dirt where she had been buried. As Sonny Ray grew up he was curious as to why people placed there loved ones in boxes before putting them in the dirt. Was it one last attempt to insulate or shield their loved ones from the insult of dying? Sonny Ray the little boy, had to know. He missed his grandma. He crept slowly toward the casket. The casket lay there, open. Sonny Ray stood next to the casket, quiet he stood. Without warning his grandma sat up. Sonny Ray shrieked as loud as he could. No one seemed to hear his cries. Then she spoke: “Eia no Sonny Ray, Eia no Sonny Ray,” she cried out in decree. “E huli I wahi ma keia ao. Maopopo wau, ua ‘ike au ka home I loko o ku’u pu’uwai. Ke maopopo he hawai’i au.” Her mele rolled over the little boy; like a surfer being pounded, after being sucked over the falls on a large winter swell on the North Shore. His grandma said: “This is for Sonny Ray, this is for Sonny Ray. Trying to find a place in the world. Now I know, now I see, my home is in my heart, as long as I remember; I am hawaiian.” Tears flowed down the little boy’s face. He looked up to see a large shadow in the grass of the cemetery. Squinting, he gazed upward, and observed a large dark bird hovering. The trade winds blew softly through the young boy’s long wavy hair. Sonny Ray turned his attention to his grandmother’s grave; but she, and her shiny casket were gone. The little boy was confused. He sat down on the soft green grass of the cemetery and began to weep. That mele was a song, a song his grandma had taught him to recite. Sonny Ray missed his grandma. He missed his island home. Sonny Ray searched the sky. The large predator was gone. The boy was beginning to miss his brothers and sister. He was hungry. Wind began to swirl lightly in and around the cemetery. As the boy sat in the grass a small branch from a nearby tree popped the little boy on the side of his head. It was the branch of a Kukui tree with a Kukui nut attached to it.
Again, Sonny Ray was struck by the same type of branch. This time on his face.
Sonny Ray opened his eyes.
He was slightly disoriented, but he could swear he saw an upside down eagle, not three feet from his face. Sonny Ray had slept beneath the open window of the hogan. He focused his eyes in the dimly lit room. Sonny Ray rolled to his knees, standing up gingerly. In the open window sat the largest, blackest eagle he had ever seen. Not only had he never seen one; he didn’t know they even existed. The old man lay still not wanting to ruin this rarest of introductions.
The black eagle sat with watchful eyes. Something was in it’s right claw, but Sonny Ray could not tell what it was. After a few minutes of reflective introducton, the black eagle maneuvered itself around on the narrow ledge, and leapt out and away; into the cool stillness of morning. Sonny Ray grunted mutely, but rose quickly to observe the black eagle in flight. He lingered for a short span of time. He rested his left forearm on the narrow window ledge. He immediately felt something between his forearm and the ledge. As he lifted his arm up something fell to the dirt floor of the hogan. Sonny Ray bent down slowly to pick it up. He held it in his hand for several moments, looking at it in utter disbelief. It was a small branch from a Kukui nut tree. He slowly closed the door of the hogan so as not to waken Cyrus. It was cold as he stood in the sunless shadows of the gigantic ponderosa pines. Sonny Ray began to coach himself up. It surely had to be pain induced stress. But there is no way that black eagle had a Kukui branch in it’s claw, no f’ing way. Sonny Ray stood next to his jeep. He glanced in the window and saw the steam emanating from his head. The steam reminded him of fire. He quickly turned away. “Where in the hell did that thing come from anyway?” Sonny Ray was feeling frantic. He had some questions for that old man.
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