The Parliament of Gulls
By Jeff Baker
Since time immemorial, the seagulls have swarmed over the beaches, particularly near people, awaiting their food scraps or offerings of tidbits. But also, since seagulls took flight, there has been the Parliament of Gulls.
It meets rarely, for it is not easy for individual seagulls to co-ordinate travel to one point, even after the messengers, usually a swift-moving albatross brings word that the Parliament has been called, and representatives of the gulls must be chosen to convene and sit and hear and debate. Such was the time, one summer’s day.
“The matter before us is clear,” said the First Gull. “We have become too dependent upon the tall ones, They Who Walk The Beach.”
“They bring food,” said the Second Gull. “I am native to this very beach and I have benefited from our cooperation with the tall ones. We swoop and fly in a great tower and They Who Walk The Beach will throw food our way. Food is not always easy to find in this world.”
“There are fish,” said the Third Gull. “Readily available in most of the world’s seas and rivers. I myself have attracted fish with offerings of pieces of bread…”
“Bread deposited by They Who Walk The Beach,” the First Gull interrupted. “You have become dependent.”
“There is carrion,” said the Fourth Gull. “Death is ever-present with a ready supply of food. They Who Walk are just an addition to the world’s larder, a larder made for the race of Gulls.”
“There are others, remember,” said the Second Gull. “Bears, other birds, foxes…”
“There are no other birds save Gulls,” said the First Gull. “They Who Walk The Beach can destroy their fellows. They may one day destroy all of their race. Then where will we be if by that time we have forgotten all but how to perform for treats?”
“The young have their instincts,” the Fourth Gull said.
“The young have their hunger,” the First Gull said.
“We have adapted before…” began the Second Gull. Then they stopped. They could hear the crinkle of an opened bag; smell the tang of food bits. As one, they rose into the air, to swarm and drift above the Beach-Walker, and dive as she tossed the small chips of food.