Pelicans for Sale

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Our essay, Pelicans for Sale, won Honorable Mention in the 2008 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.


Pelicans for Sale


Pelicans for Sale.

I frowned as my headlights flared across the small sign. Why would anyone buy a pelican? Pondering the question, I honked the horn once and heaved myself out of the driver’s seat. The delivery to this house in the middle of an orchard on the outer edge of my route was my last for the day, and I was exhausted. I’d worked six double shifts the past week. I felt lucky to remember my name, never mind solving a puzzle about pelican purchasers.

Still, it was curious. After three years of package delivery work, I knew people bought and sold everything under the Florida sun. But pelicans? I stepped from the truck and glanced again at the sign. The lettering was indistinguishable in the darkness outside the circle of the truck’s lights. Giving up the mystery as a lost cause, I tucked the package under my arm, grabbed my handheld and stumbled across the sandy driveway.

The house stood quietly behind a fragrant, wisteria-covered wire fence. Hinges on the entrance gate whispered like wind through feathers when I shoved my way through. As I hauled myself up the porch steps, a slim woman came out to meet me. She signed for the package, and I turned to leave.

The sign caught my attention again. I turned back to the woman and asked, “Why would someone buy a pelican?”

She blinked at me. After a long, silent moment, she answered somewhat tentatively, “I don’t know.”

I was astonished. She was in the business of selling the birds, wasn’t she? I tried again.

“Do people eat them? Do they make good pets? Can you train them to retrieve fish?”

She clutched the package and stared at me. “I have no idea. I don’t know a thing about pelicans.”

Stumped, I returned her study. She looked as perplexed as I was. Well, if she didn’t want to tell me—I said, “Have a good evening.”

Heading back to my truck, I fired up the engine and pulled away. The headlights fell across the sign once more. This time I saw the lettering clearly.

Pecans for Sale.