The Funny Looking Bird


© A Mixed Bag 2012

Generalissimo Ramon Carlos DeLaVega, his revolution successful and his dictatorship now well established, ordered his family symbol placed upon all government buildings to inspire the public’s fear and awe of him.

The largest one was placed on the wall over the main gates to his compound. He had lights and cameras positioned to record how everyone reacted when seeing the powerful avian predator.

“Why are they laughing?” DeLaVega asked the same question day after day as he reviewed the morning videos showing the children walking to school. They would all stop in front of the gates, point up, and laugh, then gleefully skip along.

Unfortunately, Generalissimo DeLaVega’s family symbol bore a striking resemblance to the muppet Sam the Eagle. The children loved muppets.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – June 18th 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 123.

Yes, the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo was the muppet character Sam the Eagle.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to

sam the eagle

Found at

25 thoughts on “The Funny Looking Bird

  1. So… Does the Generalissimo also have a sense of humor and the grace not to take himself too seriously? Unless he has the capacity to laugh at himself along with the children, I suspect that Sam the Eagle will soon disappear from any of his country’s television shows. Of course, if he has a good PR staff, he might capitalize on the resemblance and co-opt the muppet to generate goodwill for his policies and even some friendly satirical humor.


    • I suspect many ruthless dictators don’t have much of a sense of humor, at least about themselves. He’ll have to figure out the connection to Sam the Eagle first. Hopefully no one will tell him.


    • Well, now, need we be so pessimistic? Could we not be pleasantly surprised to encounter a *benign* dictator, with a benevolent sense of humor? It’s true that James slanted our impression of him by describing his motives in placing this symbol before the public as to inspire fear and awe, and it is all-too-common for revolutionaries to remain so enmeshed in their sense of “struggle” that they have difficulty relaxing into a sense of well-intentioned governance. But if this revolution had and maintained sufficient popular support that was now well-established and successful, then perhaps it is because the popular perception of this leader recognized a good man in a difficult situation who could be trusted to use the resulting dictatorial power wisely and beneficently (and, perhaps, temporarily as a step toward a more enlightened democratic political structure). An event like the children’s reaction in this story could be just the stressor to test his mettle. A perspicacious advisor to calm any initial negative reaction on his part also would not be amiss. This short bit of fiction did not have opportunity to develop all the interesting possibilities that would follow the set-up event.


      • I created my dictator to be somewhat humorless, at least about himself, so I doubt he’d appreciate the comparison to Sam the Eagle, especially since the muppet character is “all-American.”


  2. Haha I see the resemblance now. I can see why the kids laugh. It makes a mockery of their dictator, and maybe one day it would allow some of them to topple the regime and have a more politically friendly government like in America. Oh wait, let’s keep the dictator. lol

    I love the story James.


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