There have been no eagles over Long Island in a hundred years, none over the pine barrens, none over the flat scrub oak plains, none over the demented road known as the longest parking lot in the world, the El-Eye-EEEEEEEE! Not one eagle, except Luke, and he is in his tinmobile, trapped in a vicious snarl of traffic. He is completely ill driving to work.
One two three four, I can’t stand it anymore. Four five, five six, I am very very sick.
Eagle Lena, his only mate and the wonder of his life, is dead. Luke has seen her name written on The Wall, the blue, highriding record of all the Falconform victims that rises above the highest thermal. NanYopha, the oldest ghost on The Wall, tried to shield the fact from him but Luke spotted it when he took a thermal up and visited with his ancestors. Crazed and shot and wingless, Lena didn’t last long in the human cage he never dared to visit.
Luke drums his fingers on the steering wheel, but in truth he might as well relax because the LIE is endless and clotted and sclerotic and he has plenty to think about.
This endless time, this mobile stallout could be useful. The radio, the CDs, the tapes are silent from unuse and disuse and Luke, immobile, stares ahead with second sight. This second sight is not the visionary kind New Agers talk about, no, it is the sight behind the eagle eye that protects from actual dangers. In this second sight the eyes unfocus and rove into daydreamy territory where reflection and dawdling and inwardness are masters. If Luke were to drive this way even for a few seconds, he would cause a bloody pileup. But now, in oozing traffic, he can try to think things through.
Two hundred years ago, when we still had a chance, birds filled the skies. Eagles. The records of the Shinnecock Indians (yeah, of Southampton) tell Luke that. Even today, eagle doodads – feathers, photos, pens, headdresses –fill the taxfree Shinnecock stores on Montauk Highway. (This is painful. Montauk Bob, aka Eagle Man, the proprietor of one of the stores, has told Luke stories about Wakan Tanka, who made and preserved the world. And Montauk Bob has also pointed out, with a grin, that eagles, rather than human beings, are created in the image of Wakan Tanka.