The Hummingbird Drone Justifies Strange, Irrational Behavior In Responsible Members Of Society
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
I’d never suspected the shimmery green and blue hummingbird that hovered beside my kitchen window to actually mean me any harm. That would be considered irrational thinking. Not until my old friend, and local Los Angeles vagrant, Marlin, came over for a chat one afternoon, did I realize how ensnared we are in a rapidly developing technocratic prison of possible deceit and surveillance.
We sat around my square kitchen table and chatted about the new pope and the vigilante who was roaming Los Angeles shooting out the tires of vehicles that ran red lights. Both of the stories fascinated Marlin, and he yapped back to me his opinions on the matters.
A hummingbird, clearly enjoying the sun, hung around the open window. I saw the small creature first, while Marlin talked about how the Filipinos lauded the new pope, as they did every new pope. He claimed he’d been married to a woman in the Philippines, but he didn’t have money those days to fly out there and see her. She needed him to make love to her badly, and knowing she and her desires lingered, unsatisfied, left him anxious to raise the necessary funds.
“Pretty lips, pretty behind, pretty sexy,” he said.
I watched the hummingbird float. Its wings were hardly noticeable. Only a shining blur as they moved hundreds of times per second. Like a little machine, I thought. The bird enjoyed the small splotch of juice on the cement ledge outside the window. I’d often sit in the sun and eat oranges. Sometimes, when the pulp was too much, I’d remove it from my mouth and set it on the outside ledge. The juice left behind was what attracted the poor creature.
Suddenly, Marlin’s bony, vein-lined arm shot out and popped the hummingbird. The fragile creature was jolted a few feet and then plummeted, head first, to the pavement below. A four-story drop.
What in the hell did you do that for? I asked. Marlin wasn’t one to kill creatures like that. He lived on a steady diet of wheatgrass juice, and he always seemed to have a deep respect for nature. While walking down the street after a rain, he’d make a big deal about stepping around the snails and slugs.
“Don’t you know?” he asked me. “You of all people, you, Mister Dear Dirty America, should know better than to let a hummingbird hover near your window. They aren’t that brave. With the two of us sitting here, to get so close.”
What do you mean? I said. There was orange juice spilled on the ledge! And, I’ve never posed a threat to it before. It shouldn’t have to live in fear around my place.
“You’ve been seeing it often, then?” he asked.
Most days, I said.
“That was no ordinary hummingbird,” Marlin said. “It was a spy drone. The new version the Pentagon has rolled out to use as surveillance tools. To spy on anyone they don’t like or feel is a threat. I could hear the whirring of its mechanical wings.”
A hummingbird spy drone? I asked him. That was no spy drone.
“It’s because you’ve been writing those critical articles about the government, the Federal Reserve, and their links to the global banks. They’re keeping tabs on you, bro. They do that to me, too, when I go around looking for treasure in the garbage bins. But they don’t use a hummingbird. They use the ghetto bird. But it looks more like a gigantic dragon fly to me,” he said.
I looked it up on my smartphone. Marlin was right. The Daily Mail, I said, wrote this:
A pocket-sized spy drone disguised as a hummingbird has been unveiled by a major Pentagon contractor measuring just 16 centimetres and weighing less than an AA battery.
The mini spy plane can fly up to 11 miles an hour and took five years to develop at a cost of $4million.
Experts hope the drone, which can fly just by flapping its wings, compared with current models which rely on propellers, will eventually be able to swoop through open windows and perch on power lines.
“I know, bro!” Marvin said.
That still was not a spy drone, I said. We went outside to check on the bird, or drone, depending on which one of us was right. Marlin descended the four flights of stairs ahead of me. I smelled his body odor all the way down.
You can see how Marlin could get confused…
This drone has been stuffed with such realistic-looking innards!
A small crowd had formed around the fallen bird. “It’s so cute,” a petite girl said. “How sad.” Her frail fingers covered her mouth like a cage. “Tae kwon do!” Marlin said to her. She looked confused. Marlin stood closer to her. She sidestepped away.
Another man wearing a white Dodger’s shirt said the hummingbird had fallen out of the sky and clocked him on the head. “Out of nowhere, dude.”
It’s almost like that mysterious dead bird drop up at Sunset Boulevard, I said, a couple years ago. But that was pigeons, not hummingbirds. And the homeless people ate them before they were cold.
Two plump Korean women wearing wide-brimmed sun hats started wailing. I thought it a bit dramatic, but then I saw the hummingbird’s wing flip gently. As if to signal a cheap farewell to all that had come to see it off. Marlin threw his arms around the women to comfort them.
|clearly, this is what Marlin imagined|
“It’s not a real bird,” Marlin said, “but if you gals need me to stop over at your places in a few minutes and help you through the grieving process, I’d be happy. I’d also be willing to give you 50 percent off at my new massage parlor on Wilshire. I’m a professional stress reliever.”
I could use a massage, the woman on Marlin’s left said, before she started sobbing again.
Not that kind, probably, I said. Marlin gave me a dirty look.
“It’s not a real bird,” he said again. To prove it, he lifted his leg. He made a great show of bending his knee. His scuffed white shoe with its Velcro straps and torn flaps around the ankle hovered over the bird. I covered my eyes. Marlin dropped his heel. A thick line of dark juice shot out. There was a squelching, crunching sound. The petite girl bent over and retched.
“That’s just a bit of oil. It’s a machine!” Marlin said. “It’s a fine-tuned, heavily-oiled machine. Very intricate with attention paid to the smallest details. It’s a breathtaking achievement no doubt, which is why you all think that’s a real birdie.”
The man in the Dodger’s shirt shook his head at Marlin. “What kind of sick brute are you, man?” he asked.
The woman on Marlin’s left agreed. “You sick man,” she said. She could not take anymore. Her eyes were closed. She shoved Marlin’s arm away.
Marlin scooped up the crushed bird. He fingered the dark red crack in its flesh. I caught a glimpse of its pink insides. “They certainly made it with the skills of God,” he said. “It’s quite a marvel.” He turned to the group. “I was telling my buddy here, that this is a spy drone used by surveillance agencies and police departments around the country. It looks like a hummingbird, and even I’m shocked by how they could stuff it with such realistic innards, and keep them moist, yet, that’s all part of the ruse.”
Marlin dug his dirty thumbs deep into the bird and ripped it in half. More juice, lighter this time, flung across the pavement and onto the shirts of the Korean women. They jumped back. Everybody stepped away from Marlin. Miniature white rib bones poked out of the two pieces he held. The head remained whole, and hung limply off the chunk in Marlin’s right hand. Was he crazy if he thought he wasn’t holding a real animal that he’d just torn apart?
Was it his fault he was paranoid about surveillance in this modern age? By the constant spying and snooping and recording of our daily lives by mega-funded government agencies and corporate opportunists? Can we ever be too careful in a world where technology is developing far more rapidly than our rule of law and our individual perceptions of reality and civil decency?
But did a hummingbird, presumably innocent, have to die?
Marlin finally admitted he might have mistaken a real hummingbird for a tiny spy drone. “I don’t err often,” he told me. He rapidly disassembled the bird on the sidewalk — far faster than I’d thought an animal could be torn apart. Its pieces laid strewn in the sun. Some pieces were beautiful, like the wings, and others, like the plumbing, were not meant for show. No evidence of any mechanical pieces could be found.
A whirring overhead made everybody look up. A goofy square helicopter floated over us. It was the size of a floor tile, but with a rotor attached to each corner and high tech equipment in the middle.
“Shoot it down,” Marlin shouted. The group backed away until they’d reached the end of the block. They wanted nothing of what was happening, yet they couldn’t look away. Marlin jumped in the air and tried to punch the device with his red and brown stained hands, but he couldn’t leap very high. His rat tail of hair bobbed in the back each time he sprung.
A police car rounded the corner. Its siren pealed once. Two officers jumped out. Who’d reported us? Marlin sprinted in the other direction. His long legs and swishing khaki pants were a sight to behold. He nearly transformed into a gazelle, sprinting through an unnatural jungle, swerving now and again to throw off its prey.
But alas, the prey was faster, better equipped for sprinting, and, ultimately, more determined. The female officer shoved Marlin into the lawn of a nearby house.
I carefully made my way to Marlin, who was being handcuffed by the officer. I didn’t want to appear as a threat, nor did I want to make the mistake of reaching toward my waistline. Otherwise I’d be on the news — another casualty of the LAPD, with 90 bullets in or through my riddled body.
The officer’s partner stood off to the side, ready for anything. His hand was on his club hanging at his side. Into his radio he said, “Surveillance craft 110 back to base.” The arresting officer dug her knee into Marlin’s back as she stretched his arms behind him.
Marlin took the arrest with grace. He suffered in style. “You’re quite the dominatrix,” he said to the female officer, who then slammed his face into the hood of the police car. “You want to come back to my pad and play?” he said, with his cheek on the hot metal. “Maybe we take shots of wheat grass to get our blood flowing?”
She thought he was taunting her, and she had a zero tolerance for any thug or creep in Los Angeles to downplay her role as an officer. What she didn’t understand was that Marlin meant what he said. He was genuinely interested in bedding her. He truly thought he had a shot with any woman. And there was rarely a woman he with whom he didn’t want to take that shot. He’d have to be told no for the rest of his life.
How could I explain that sort of enthusiasm for life to the officers? Or anybody, really? In what part of society did Marlin belong? A man too smart for his own good, yet too gullible to play dumb when it was safest to do so.