Barry Lowe

Why does he feel so strange when he’s given love the bird?

For months, single dad Travis Black has promised his young daughter, Penny, he will take her to see the feeding of the pelicans on the coast but when they are delayed in traffic and miss the show she throws a hissy fit of major proportions. At a loss how to handle Penny’s tantrum, Travis is befriended by town vet, Spike Donovan, who wins Penny’s affections by showing her his animal sanctuary where he is caring for an injured pelican named Pontus. It’s love at first sight between Penny and Pontus, and even Travis, who has sworn off love, feels a strange attraction to the Pelican Whisperer.

Love With A Side Order Of Pelicans


“See, daddy,” Penny shrieked. “I told you we’d be late.”

Even though I mentally blamed the traffic, my job, my timing, even my lousy luck, I knew deep down we should have left earlier, taken no chances on all the variables that can turn a pleasure to a disaster. I had a headache just thinking about it.

“It’s all your fault,” Penny screamed.

People turned to stare at the little girl flinging accusations at her father.

“Please, honey, we’ll come back tomorrow.”

My attempts to placate fell on deaf ears. There’s no reasoning with a child who has a one-track desire.

She did stamp her foot this time. “I don’t want to come back tomorrow. I want to see the pelicans now!”

“Look. There are plenty of pelicans swimming in the lake and, see, there are a couple of them sleeping on the sandbank.”

She wasn’t to be appeased. “They’re too far away. I want to pet one.”

“I don’t know whether you’re allowed to touch them,” I said.

She’d brook no argument. “Of course, you are.”

When Little Miss Know-it-all gets on her high horse, there’s no arguing with her. She sat down on the brickwork, a grimace of determination on her face.

“What are you doing, Penny?”

“I’m getting a good seat for tomorrow.”

“You can’t sit there all night.”

“Yes, I can.”

I sat down beside her, noticing for the first time the young man who was cleaning up the garbage obviously left by the crowds who’d watched the pelican feeding earlier. He seemed a little too interested in the confrontation between Penny and me. The hide of the man. I was about to tell him off when I realized he had just as much right to be here as we did; perhaps more right.

“When I said ‘tomorrow’ I didn’t actually mean tomorrow, Penny. Daddy has important work he has to finish and we need to go back to town. I’ll see if I can squeeze a day off next weekend. How’s that?”

Penny looked at me as if I had just crushed all respect for adults out of her. There were no tantrums, no screaming this time. She just spoke with deadly calm. “You said tomorrow.”

I knew defeat when I heard it. There was no wriggle room left.

“I’ll have to see if we can find a hotel for the night. Daddy doesn’t have a lot of money for extras like that. It would be better if we could come back next week.”

Penny was through negotiating. “Tomorrow.”

I glared at the council cleaner leaning on his pick-up claw watching our drama unfold. I hoped the look on my face reminded him to mind his own business and leave us alone. It obviously didn’t work as he strolled casually in our direction. When he was about three meters away, he stopped, pretending to collect rubbish in his vicinity but merely snapping at thin air with the claw on the end of a wooden rod.

He looked at us more closely, before he said, “So, you want to see a pelican?”

From the look of excitement on Penny’s face, I could see how easily children could be lured away. I’d warned her repeatedly about strangers. I hoped it was because I was with her that she’d lowered her stranger danger faculties.

“I have a pelican,” he continued.

It might have been the murderous look on my face, for he backed off a little. He opened the trash bag he had attached to his belt and after scrounging through it for a few moments, extracted a crumpled leaflet. He tossed it toward me.

I left it on the ground where it fell.

“Read it,” he suggested.

I leaned forward to pick it up, my eyes never leaving him. Smoothing it out carefully, I saw that it was a leaflet for the pelican feeding, giving a brief history of the area and how the public feeding came about as a tourist attraction. The flip side had a large illustration of a pelican with bullet points about their life cycle. Penny looked at the leaflet with interest. I raised my eyes to the interloper.

“The side that gives the history of the feeding.”

I turned the brochure back over.

Penny saw it before I did. She poked her finger at the photograph in the bottom right-hand corner.

“That’s you,” she exclaimed excitedly. “You feed the pelicans.”

“Yup,” he said simply.

She thrust the leaflet into my hands. “Daddy, that’s the man who feeds the pelicans.”

I had to restrain her from running over to him.

“What have I told you about strangers?”

Penny had her own logic. She reiterated, “He’s not a stranger, daddy. He’s the man who feeds the pelicans.”

The guy came closer, squatting in front of Penny so he was more at her level.

“You must be Penny,” he said, in a voice so smooth she was instantly smitten. It probably had the same effect on women.

“He knows my name, daddy,” she said, pleased as punch. Of course, he did. He’d heard us arguing earlier. I had to give him credit, though; he’d got her out of the funk that had threatened our entire visit.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“You can call me Spike.” He held his hand out for Penny to shake which, I knew from experience, makes her feel very grown up.

Then Spike turned his attention to me. There was something about him. Perhaps it was his eyes that were as greeny blue as the water in the lake. Or maybe the smile. I couldn’t work it out but he had a quality about him that drew you in, made you like him, made you feel important.

“And what do I call daddy?”

I stood suddenly to break the spell, wiping my hands on the legs of my trousers to dislodge the sand, before offering to shake his hand. “Travis Black.”

His grip was strong and friendly. I had a couple of centimeters in height on him, but his arms were thick with muscle, flexing beneath his navy form-hugging official Pelican Feeder button-up shirt. If he was single, he would have women lining up around the block. Not that I was examining him in forensic detail, it was just the conclusion I came to in those seconds a guy sizes up the competition when he first meets another male.

eBook Cover Price: 0.99

ISBN 978-1-911478-04-1

Length: 82 pdf Pages / 14322 words

Gay, Bisexual, Romance

Heat rating: 2