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 Category:  Humor Fiction
  Posted: May 29, 2019      Views: 76

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 ABOUT
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN 

I write what I think-feel-believe.
Every essay, poem, and tale tells a story.
message dictates style.
I write about what's happening in the world.
I consider my writing more "expressive" than "artistic."


He is a top ranked author at the #10 position.

He is an accomplished poet and is currently at the #84 spot on this years rankings.

He is also an active reviewer and is holding the #37 spot on the top ranked reviewer list.

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A fable (1846 words)
"Perry the Flying Penguin" by Robert Zimmerman



Perry stood on the rim of his ice floe one sunny afternoon. Even though it was thirty below, the wind was but a breath and Perry felt great. He saw his friend Felix plodding his direction, and shouted out to him: "Hey Felix, what are you doing the rest of the day?"

"I'm just hanging out here. Some fur seals are coming over in a little while and we're playing snowball."

"Can I play?"

"Sure, we can always use another player. Are you any good?"

"You bet I am." Perry saw something earlier he couldn't get out of his mind. "Felix, have you ever noticed those things up in the air flying around here all the time?"

"You mean the Terns?"

"What's a Tern?"

"Are you joking?"

Perry shouted since it was clear he wasn't being heard, "IF I KNEW WHAT IT WAS, I WOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK. I'm not dumb; what's a Tern?"

Felix jumped in the air and screeched, "Its A BIRD GOOFY."

"I'm a bird and I look nothing like that. Besides, it's in the air and I'm stuck on the ground. All I can do is walk around here and swim in the water. One of us isn't a bird."

"Don't you know anything? We're birds that don't fly. Waddling and swimming is our game. Penguins are the best in the business at both. The Tern is a bird that flies and walks. That's the deal. You need to read a book. Are you playing snowball or not? If not, go away and stop bothering me." 

Perry took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. "OK, I'll play." He determined in his mind to find answers. If he was a bird like the Tern, why couldn't he fly?  He decided right then he would learn how to soar with the other birds. Trying to learn how while no one was watching would be key to his success. What a day it would be when Perry swooped down on the floe as everyone cheered such a great accomplishment. He smiled like a Cheshire cat as he got ready for the game.

Two weeks passed since Perry and Felix had their shouting match about the Tern. Perry thought about flying every day and would often stand on the floe to watch the birds circle overhead and dive to pick little fish out of the icy drink. The kid thought flying would give him freedom to go anywhere he wanted. He imagined flying in the clouds and watching all the critters scampering around the ice as they go about their business. 

Watching the terns, he noticed differences like size, wings, and funny little feet. He was a lot bigger, had flippers instead of wings, and walked on big flat feet instead of tiny little sticks at the end of his legs. The Terns looked like they had flippers with feathers on them.  He couldn't understand how they got around on those puny little feet. Would flapping his flippers turn them into wings so he could fly? Perry had never seen a flying Penguin.

He was lifting ice chunks every day to get stronger. Sometimes he spent hours waddling at high speed around the ice floe to build up his stamina. Penguins are big birds, and the aspiring aeronaut knew flying would require more strength.

Perry was watching a bunch of Terns on the ice floe and sauntered over to the group to ask if there were any secrets to flying.  All the birds saw him coming and bounced around readying their escape.  He waddled up to one of the bigger birds. When he was about 10 feet away, it flew off. He shouted to another one resting on the edge of the floe, "Hey you; don't fly away. We're both birds, I won't hurt you. I want to talk." 

The Tern looked at him and said, "I've seen you and your pals around here. What do you want?" 

"I want to ask you a question."

"Yeah?"

"What's your name?"

"I'm Sam. What a stupid question."

"I want to know if you can teach me how to fly."

Sam laughed so hard he lost his balance and fell over. He roared with laughter and bounced on the ice while scrambling to get back on his feet. "You want me to teach you to fly?" His guffawing hurt Perry's feelings.

"It's easy for you with those big wings and little bodies. I got a different problem. I got little flippers and I'm a teeny bit overweight."

Sam was howling now. "Man, you ain't a little fat; you're huge." 

Perry's eyes got misty, and he had trouble catching his breath. "I can't help it; I'm a Penguin."

"Look, dude, you'll never fly. Why don't you waddle over to the water and get you a fish?"

He launched into the air to get away from Perry. As the bird flew away, Perry yelled at him. "You'll be sorry when you see me flying around here." He whimpered as he plunged into the water and headed home.

After the bird ridiculed him and flew away, Flyboy was foursquare committed about taking to the air. As he raced through the water like a torpedo, he told himself: "I will learn to fly... I will learn to fly... I will learn to fly. He got home just before dark. He shuffled up to his mother and said, "Momma, we are birds and everybody told me birds can fly, but not penguins." Before she could answer, he blurted out, "I will learn how to fly and I will be the only flying penguin in the world. Some bird told me today I need to just waddle over to the water and catch a fish." 

She beamed and put her loving flippers around him to soothe the hurt. "Look sweetie, we are the king birds here in Antarctica. You shouldn't listen to some other featherbrain telling you what you can and can't do. That Tern can only pick up little fish on the surface, but you can dive deep and snatch a big fish. You can do more things than that spiteful, jealous featherhead can do. Don't worry about what anybody else says about you. You are precious to your daddy and me,"

Perry contemplated the words from his mother. He was still hurting from the words of the tern. "If I can fly like that guy, I'll teach him a hard lesson. I'll soar higher, swifter and farther, but I'll be able to do it carrying a big fish. He can't do that. I will prove I'm better at being a bird than he is."

The next day Perry went back to the ice floe to work on his rapid lumbering skills. He knew he would have to sprint across the ice to get his flippers to work like wings. He started at the south end of the ice and rumbled as fast as he could. The flippers thrashed up and down faster than ever before. It felt like he was levitating as he hurtled toward lift off. Racing closer to the edge of the ice he rocketed into the air, beginning his long anticipated flight. As the cold air smashed into his cheeks at high speed and his flat feet left the ground, he plummeted face first onto the ice and somersaulted into the shivery, icy water. The aspiring aviator was google-eyed at how much colder the water felt and couldn't remember a time when the splash was so bitter. He wanted to show everyone he was the world's greatest, one and only, flying penguin. Alas, his reverie was not meant to be. The long expected dream of flying became a nightmare.

Even though the icy slab smacked him in the kisser, it was heartening no one saw him take a nose dive on his maiden flight. Running faster and flapping harder would not lift his plump body and flat feet into the air. It was a terrible blow, but the “Flyboy of the Antarctic” had come as close to flying as he would ever get. It was a noble effort, but flight school was over.

Perry sat on the edge of the floe as he considered what he would say to the others after telling them he could fly. Maybe they would forget and let it go. It was a sobering thought, and he felt a burning coal lodge in his tummy. As the self-pity was raging in his portly body, he heard someone nearby clearing their throat.  He turned to look behind him and there stood Alfred Dunsmore, the mayor of the penguins.

"Perry, what are you doing out here by yourself? It's getting late and you should be home." Alfred was a huge Emperor Penguin that had been mayor for a long time. "Do your folks know you are out here?"

"No, Mr. Dunsmore, they're wondering where I am right now."

"Why so glum, chum?" Alfred was one of the old guys that always used tired old sayings like that. "You look like you lost your best friend. Is there something I can do for you?"

"It's nothing serious. I didn't play well at the snowball game today."

"Don't let that bother you, I had bad games myself. You'll play better next time. Failure and success have a lot in common. They're fleeting." He rumbled with laughter at his clever comment. Maybe that's why he was mayor for so long.

Perry giggled to himself as he tried to imagine Alfred playing snowball. The giant sized mayor running all over the snowball field making plays was almost enough to make the kid laugh out loud. He tried to control his giddiness. The mayor was the size of two or three normal penguins, and athletic was not the word that came to mind when looking at him. "Well, Mr. Dunsmore, I better be getting home before my momma worries."

"You be careful son and tell your folks I said hey."

"OK Mr. Dunsmore." Alfred meandered off and Perry plunged into the water to head home. As he raced through frigid water, all he could think about was getting a good night's sleep. Perry never saw a penguin fly. He never saw another penguin even try to fly. It was gratifying he attempted something no one else like him had ever tried. So what if the Tern made fun of him. That bird had to make several dives into the water to get enough food for one good meal. Perry only had to dive into the water once for a great meal. Maybe being one of the best swimmers, waddlers, and fishermen in the world would be enough to make him proud and happy.

Perry learned he was a good boy, a great swimmer, and even almost an all-star Snowball player, but alas, he was no flyer. He realized there was a Perry the Penguin shaped hole in the world and he fit into it flawlessly. 

Dreams don't always come true, but dreams not dreamed can never come true. 
 
 
 

 

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