The Hippy loved to roam the streets of the city, his hands in his pockets, his mind wandering with his feet. One day while walking in an unfamiliar neighborhood he heard a cry that astonished him. It was bird-like and human at once, and it echoed in his mind after his long gait had taken him away. When it sounded again he stopped and turned around, and once more it rang out like the scream of a great jungle parrot. It was hysterical yet seductive, the harbinger of life far more immediate and vital than his own.
He doubled back to the tree from which the cry had seemed to come, but saw nothing, only the fleeting impression of a swirl of bright wings at the edge of his vision. He waited a moment, then continued on, deep in thought.
Later, as he lounged by the reflecting pond on campus, the memory of the almost seen bird returned, and he seemed to hear its cry again, this time coming from behind him. Then he realized it was the growling, rumbling sounds of the alligators as they drew up from the swamps and came to the pond for the evening. As if awakened from a dream the Hippy watched their lumbering reptilian lines approach the water. No one else was in the park and he felt the same mysterious sense of nostalgia he’d experienced on his walk.
Suddenly there were alligators all around him. He had blocked their way and they continued to the water, oblivious, crawling over him, rubbing their rough cold skin against his, familiar as lovers. Then he was down at the water’s edge among them, stumbling, reaching one tentative foot out to the pond. As he tried to stand, to walk on the water, he fell, splashing wildly. Startled by his sudden movement, the alligators snapped at his angular form as if to hold him still, one fastening to his leg, and, as his struggles intensified, more gathered and began striking.
As if watching another person he saw himself hanging limply in the jaws of a huge animal, the half-remembered bird of the afternoon fluttering out of the shadows around him. He heard its cry now and recognized it as his own voice, hysterical and wild.