The food chain in action will haunt me for a long time

Image courtesy of Del Stone Jr.

Today I saw something that will remain in memory for a long time.

I was driving east on Mary Esther Cut-Off, about to approach the intersection with Beal Parkway. Traffic usually backs up there with people wanting to turn left onto Beal and head north for Walmart and Sam’s Club.

As I was creeping along in the right lane I saw something weird – a hawk standing in the middle of the road. It was uninjured and appeared to be fixed on something to its right.

I looked and saw a dove, maybe fresh from the nest, struggling toward the median. The hawk seemed determined to procure that dove for its dinner and as new cars approached it would launch into the air only to circle back and land when the car had passed. My fear is I’ll drive down that stretch tomorrow and see two splash marks – the hawk AND the dove.

I guess the humanitarian thing to do would have been to try to rescue the dove, but as a firm believer in science I think the hawk, as an apex predator of occipiter-related prey, deserved his shot at securing a meal. Hawks have moved into the suburbs as their habitat has been destroyed by developers for new housing tracts and business locations.

And doves? As anyone can tell you they have overrun the suburban enviroscape as human development has moved ever outward, taking over the former wild habitats they occupied.

While I feel pity for the poor dove I recognize the hawk as an even more important species in the questionable “preservation” of the food chain.

I hope I don’t see a mass of feathers on the roadway … doves breed three to four times per year while hawks breed only once. They are the sharks of the sky and while that analogy forces some unflattering comparisons, I’d hate to see them vanquished by some goober heading to Walmart for the latest “True Blood” box set.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram. Visit his website at .