Fly Me the Moon — Chapter Two

Chapter One

Rudy knows people, and,

because he knows people,

Rudy loves birds.

It is not enough to say that he likes, admires, envies, and adores all

birds — he LOVES them,

wants to marry them,

wants to BE them.

Most especially, he wants to join the lyrical thrush family,

the robins he admired back then,

the shamas he favors now.

But he loves them all —

woodpeckers, barnswallows, eagles, parakeets, budgies, Hartz Mountain

warblers — kid-time favorite comic book: “Blackhawks”.

These days he goes for the high-flying morning flocks of screeching

green parrots and the solitary, tree-skimming, side-gliding white owl

after dark.

Kentucky cardinals, koleas, cowbirds, chubby flocking majiros, silly

geese, and potty-mouthed Donald Duck. Rudy loves all birds.

But Rudy hates doves.

Rudy hates doves for the reasons we all hate those nasty, sneaky,

louse-ridden, sidewalk grifting, shoplifting shitdrippers.

Well, OK, maybe not the official Peace Dove with the olive branch. Of

course not. And not Dove soap, ha ha. But none of this pigeons in the

grass, alas, guano. Huh-uh. Pigeons in the grass can bite Rudy’s


So he’s standing there like Mr. Clean, arms crossed, proprietarily

admiring his ironwood tree, when he thinks he detects movement at the

bottom of his stairway.

Coo-coo kachoo, there IS movement: fucking doves. Two fucking doves.

Two doves fucking in that awkward, jerky, grabass way doves fuck,

right in his own front yard.

And now he really hates doves. He’s furious. Fucking doves. He’d like

to wring their twisty little necks. Sucking doves!

Rudy catches his breath. “Olive branch,” he thinks. “Peace out, bra.”

He grins, claps his hands hard, makes them sting like rifle shots,

like shotgun blasts. Feathers fluster, flutter, and fly. But not far.

Definitely not away. Like recalcitrants, like people. Like doves.

Chapter Two

The guy stopped reading and raised his head, staring into the camera.

“So that’s my story poem for today. I wrote it,” he coughed, “last night when I flew the moon.”

There was only silence. He closed his eyes.

The video ended, lights went up, and the professor walked to the podium. He looked familiar. The one in the video had longer hair, hadn’t shaved. This prof looked like him, but all cleaned up.

“Welcome to English 311. What I just showed you –“

“Excuse me, Professor, is that you in the video?” Another student thought they looked alike.

The prof nodded, turned his head, looked to the blank screen, then back at us.

“Thank you for asking,” he said. “There is a similarity, yes. He’s my brother.” There was a noticeable stir in the classroom.

He continued. “I go to the State Hospital to see him when they call me to let me know he wants to see me. It means he’s written the next installment of what he calls his autobiography. My brother, Chick, writes with some frequency. We see each other maybe once a week. He’s asked that I video him when he reads, because, as he says, he feels like he’s contributing to my teaching efforts by being a live author study for this class.

“My brother is brilliant. He was a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin. He had a breakdown. We brought him home. He’s been institutionalized for nearly ten years.

“We’re twins. We grew up in Honolulu, both graduated from University High School, right across the street.”

He took a beat. “I’m Professor Lee. Please call me Chris. When I did my undergraduate work here at UH Manoa, fifty years ago, it was customary for faculty to open their first class with a Thank You to the students for choosing to attend here. They don’t do that much anymore. So, to try to keep the tradition of aloha alive, I’d like to welcome you all and thank you for choosing to study here.”

A hand went up. “Dr. Lee, do you know who Rudy is?”

He smiled. “Well, we had a barber named Rudy when we were kids. Sometimes I think my brother is writing about him. Other times, like with this most recent one, I’m not sure. We’ll be talking about that.

“Any other questions, folks?” he scanned the room.

Talk story

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