“I’ll scare them away,” Tony said, walking through the sliding double doors. “You two, stay here.”
Max and Father Mitch watched as Tony went through the last set of doors and stepped onto the sidewalk, clapping his hands and shouting for the seagulls to fly away. The birds took flight as if they were flying away, but instead of leaving as Tony had planned, they circled around and swooped down at him, like white feathered piranhas after fresh meat.
Tony raised his arms to protect his face and head and ran back in through the first set of doors. The doors were slow to close, allowing dozens of the attacking gulls to enter with him.
Father and Max backed away from the doors, unsure where to seek shelter if the birds were to make it all the way inside.
Tony turned a large shopping cart upside-down and climbed into the basket, which acted like a protective shark cage. He looked at Max who had his palms turned out and shoulders shrugged in a gesture of, “what am I supposed to do?”
“Take shelter,” Tony shouted.
“Over there,” Father said, pointing toward the hair salon. “We can close the security gate; it will act like a wall that those birds can’t get through.”
They ran over to the salon, accidentally knocking over a display of shampoo as they pulled the storefront grille curtains closed.
“Those cockamamie birds aren’t getting in here,” Max said, looking toward the store’s entrance for signs of the seabirds.
Father Mitch sat down on a waiting room chair, pulling the blanket over his lap. “What’s wrong with those birds?”
Before Max could answer, he saw Tony running full bore toward them. “We’re in here,” Max shouted.
Max opened the curtain just enough for Tony to slide in, then he closed it as the birds pelted the steel screen. They jabbed at Max’s hands as he pulled down the locking latch. When it was secure, he pulled his hands away and looked at Tony who was examining his bloody arms.
Father walked over to a sink and ran warm water over a cloth he had taken from a shelf. “Tony, you better wash those cuts.”
Tony looked at his reflection in the mirror above the sink. Even though the lights around the mirror cast a radiant glow onto his sweaty skin, and he had protected his face fairly well, there were still jab marks from the beaks of the large birds.
While Father helped Tony with his wounds, Max looked through the patterned metal screen. Gulls sat perched on cash registers, aisle numbers protruding from poles, and in the rafters of the ceiling. “These damned birds have us jailed.”
Tony and Father walked over and stood next to Max.
“Now what do we do?” Father asked, looking through the screen.
“I hope it’s not a waiting game,” Max said, looking at the jab marks on his hands. “I think those birds would win, especially since they’re locked in the store with us.”
“Do you still have your handgun under your jacket, Father?” Tony asked. “Maybe the sound will scare them enough for us to escape.”
“No, that Vin kid took it from me when he tied me to that butcher block,” Father said, patting an empty shoulder holster.
Max started laughing and then said. “I can’t believe we’re planning a breakout against birds as the prison guards.”