The Edgar Chronicles (My encounters with a crow)

by TerryWalstrom 12 Replies latest jw friends

  • TerryWalstrom

    Origins and Prelude (Edgar Chronicles)

    For the last several days, there has been some kind of black bird strutting about on the Starbucks patio searching for crumbs.

    I don't particularly get along with these birds. After all, when I'm minding my own business riding my bike, they tend to dive bomb me and peck my widdle head!

    However . . .

    This particular bird has never done me wrong. The fowl is industrious in its relentless bivouac and very few morsels are to be found.

    Cue the onset of guilt!

    I broke off a piece of my multigrain bread from the sandwich I packed and tossed it toward the little scavenger.

    Now, days later. It's within inches of where I sit, fairly demanding I continue this welfare entitlement!

    I asked myself, "What would Bernie do?"

    I brought an entire bird meal today which Chef Gordon Ramsey would have approved.

    I moistened each morsel because there is no water around here for Edgar.

    What next?

    Who knows?
    The Edgar Chronicles (Day 2)

    I’ve run out of whole grain bread.

    I’m in a hurry. No lunch planned for Edgar.

    He’ll rely on his panhandling skills and luck today, Right?Wrong!

    Besides, it gets so hot out on the Starbucks patio--I’d do better to stay inside with their famous meat-freezer-thermostat setting rather than sweating out my clothes.

    So, that is the plan.

    Correction--that WAS the plan!

    I’m sitting inside in a cushy brown faux leather chair next to the front of the store with my back to the window adjacent to the patio and my customary alfresco writing haven. The earbuds are firmly in place and I’m comfy--the world can go to hell!

    Well--maybe not.

    A mom and her very young daughter wait for their beverages at the coffee counter in front of me. The child is pointing in my direction and giggling. I assume it’s because she’s never seen anything as old as me that wasn’t lying stretched in a box surrounded by organ music.

    She tugs on her mom’s sleeve. The mom turns and starts to giggle too! Well, how rude!

    I’m not THAT funny! So, why are they pointing at me and cracking a rib?

    I pull my earbuds out so I can hear myself give the two of them a lesson in political correctness in my best Lionel Barrymore voice. Before I can get out a full sentence,

    “Now see here, you two whippersnappers. . .”

    I hear loud tapping and scrambling on the window behind me and I turn my head slightly.

    There is madness outside!

    Turning fully in my chair, I’m taken aback--it’s a real-life scene out of a Hitchcock film!

    That stupid crow is pecking, swooping, clawing at the glass with a pissed expression on its satin black face. The petulant yellow eyeballs are rolling in their sockets giving me the stink eye!

    Edgar is telling me to get my ass outside and FEED his feathery ass!

    The nerve of this guy!

    I’m on a tight budget. I didn’t bring any food. Now I have to spend money on Heckle minus Jekyll before he smashes the glass out of the window.

    See what happens? No good deed goes unpunished!

    The Edgar Chronicles (Day 3)


    Why I had a dream like this is beyond my reckoning!

    Somehow or other, in my dream, I had trained Edgar.

    "To do what?" you ask. The answer is as disturbing to me as it will be to you.

    Let me back up and give you the setting . . .

    Each day at Starbucks, mid-afternoon, a red Wells Fargo armored car pulls up in front of the store (blocking those parked in front) and a courier with a bag of loot emerges. The transaction takes only a few minutes as the bag is conveyed inside and the store manager takes possession. The courier exits and enters the armored car and off they go.

    "Why is he telling me this?" you are mumbling. Be patient and you'll discover why!

    In my dream (try to remember this isn't real, ok?) I'm sitting outside with my newly trained pet crow, Edgar, waiting for the arrival of the big red Wells Fargo wagon like little Ronnie Howard in The Music Man.

    (Insert excerpt from song here:. . . )

    Suddenly, the armored vehicle arrives. Quick as the snap of a whip, Edgar flies over and perches above the door where the courier will emerge. I pretend to be typing.

    The parking brake light goes on and the door opens and the head and torso of the courier appears as Edgar disembarks in a flurry of action.

    Somewhere inside my sleeping brain, I hear "What the F**k!"

    In less time than it takes for a mouse to steal cheese from a rat trap, Edgar flies out of the red wagon with a money bag snagged in his felonious beak! The space between the overweight courier and the doorjamb is barely plausible for escape--but the dauntless feathered pirate threads that needle with acrobatic precision and flaps his way over a wisteria, spruce, and jagged row of woodbine blossoms into blue sky and vanishes before you can cry, "Lemony Snicket!"

    Naturally, there is a melee inside the armored car, and much scrambling about and WTF-ing leads nowhere--except bafflement and blame-gaming among the Wells Fargo crew.

    Egar and I meet later at a pre-designated spot and divide up the cash.

    Wouldn't you know? We get into an argument! Edgar insists he took the risks and all I did was sit on my ass pretending to be a disinterested party.

    At that point--I hear the door on the washer-dryer slam just outside my bedroom door as one of my roommates starts his laundry. I awakened with a startled grunt and fumbled about looking for my share of the ill-gotten gain until I came fully to my senses.

    What ridiculous antics for a preposterous dream!

    How shameful!

    My subconscious must have absorbed too many goofy Ocean's Eleven plots or something.

    Anway. . . that was the sum and substance of the dream.


    If Edgar comes around today--we shall begin training immediately!!

    NOT ANOTHER CROW!! No-o-o-o-o-o-o (Later that Day)

    Sigh. . .

    Now I've got an injured crow showing up with a foot hanging limp at the end of its right leg! I wouldn't put it past Edgar to have brought his girlfriend.

    If you could rig a bird on a pogo stick you'd have a pretty good idea what this creature looks like bobbing and bouncing and favoring its left leg.

    Naturally, guilt consumed me and I had to give up my oatmeal cookies.

    I call her Lenore.

    Lenore is famished, judging by the crazed enthusiasm she displayed at the bits and pieces of cookie.

    Suspiciously, five minutes after her arrival, there he was--Edgar the freeloader!

    The two gangsters pretended not to know each other but they aren't fooling me. I figure Edgar wasn't taking any chances on my charity today so he contrived to send the most pathetic-looking fowl he could convince to boing-boing-boing onto the patio in my plain view.

    Once the oatmeal feast spread out on the concrete, it was buffet time for crows!

    There is some kind of lair or hideaway where some of this food is being cached. I dunno. It just appears to be a hideaway in the thicket of bushes behind the railing. Do crows do that?

    If I know my guy--he's got a black-market scalping his fellow crows for crumbs. After all, he was open to robbing a Wells Fargo truck--why wouldn't he?

    The Edgar Chronicles (Day 4)


    As I rode my bicycle along the sunny/ shady/sunny lanes toward Starbucks this morning, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of feathered friends among treetops.

    In particular, as I would pass a streetlamp, a crow would arrive and alight as I passed. This seemed to occur in a predictable manner, so’s I deduced there were a number of these rascals in the vicinity.

    Upon arrival, a fellow in a battered pickup truck pulled alongside me as I was about to ride my bike onto the sidewalk where the Starbucks patio commenced. The window came down and he leaned my direction.

    “Is that your pet?”

    Without a context for such a question, I could only shrug cluelessly.

    His grizzled face distorted into a tooth grin.

    “There’s a blackbird following you.” He then drove away without any response from me.

    Well now. This is creepy.

    I locked my bike at the metal rail and scurried into the air-conditioned sanctuary and sniffed the invasive aroma of Coffee of the Day I intended to order. Naturally, I kept glancing at the window, half-expecting an onslaught from a vast army of querulous crows led by my arch Nemesis, Edgar, hurling the feathered pulp of their Kamikaze hordes at the front windows.

    Nah. Not so much.

    As I waited in line, the truck driver's haunting words rattled in my inner ear like some latter day, “Beware the Ides of March” prophecy from a toothy soothsayer. (Or is it a "soothy toothsayer?")

    I settled in and plugged my computer and iPhone into the wall socket to commence my work for the day. Not ten seconds elapsed until a familiar face arrived just outside the window closest to my table. Yeah. Edgar.

    Today I brought Fritos. No--that’s not true; I bought a cheap substitute called Clancy’s Corn Chips in a package identical in every way to that of Fritos brand corn chips. I assumed Edgar had not yet mastered the art of reading English.

    I popped outside and hurled a handful of chips like rice at Edgar’s wedding.

    Immediately the cripple, wobble-footed crow (Lenore) appeared like Mephistopheles sans smoke.

    Back inside I grabbed an oatmeal cookie.

    The darkling duo snatched the crumbly bounty and headed immediately toward the bushes (the infamous hidey-hole) for safe keeping. It is the crow version of an IRA account, I suppose.

    I tried (and failed) to grab a shot of the two of them. There are too many chairs, tables, and bushes around. There’ll be no visual evidence for a court case when the inevitable felony transpires.

    I’m back inside facing away from the window in case more family members arrive with broken wings, missing eyeballs or other guilt-inducing maladies.

    I wonder if you can claim crows as dependents on your 1040?

    “Is that your pet?” is still echoing in my inner ear.

    Was he asserting that Edgar had been following me on my bike ride as far back as my house? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this stalking routine.

    What must this portend? Breakfast, lunch, AND dinner?


    The Edgar Chronicles (Day 5: Sunday)


    I half-expected to awaken with a certain intrusive beak tapping at my bedroom window.


    No such thing. Normal Sunday.

    I walked to the front entrance where windows look out on the Mediterranean-style courtyard and driveway. If no roommate's car is in evidence, I usually burst out singing: "ALL By MYSELF. . ."

    Not this morning. Two cars. No blackbirds. Just one cat: Gracie.


    An hour later. . .

    On my bicycle heading toward my destination (you know by now) and I'm craning my neck in all directions for the telltale "Caw-caw."

    Never happened!

    I'm starting to relax a little. Not that I'm expecting anything sudden or threatening. No. I'm practically ready for anything. Yet--nothing unusual is seen or heard and I'm at my table on the patio in eleven minutes.


    The wobble footed Lenore arrives first and I'm a precision, well-oiled bird-feeding machine with a quick and accurate toss in her direction. But the Starbucks entrance door opens and two customers exit. Away goes Lenore and here comes an errant sparrow with a keen eye for fake Fritos corn chips.

    Score: Sparrow 1, Lenore 0.

    From the opposite direction, Lenore returns puzzled and disoriented--where the heck did the free food go? So, I reach for the oatmeal cookie and break off a beak full of scrumptious yummy and toss it her way. It bounces off the edge of a nearby table and plonks to the side.

    Before you can shout, 'Bob's yer Uncle!' The same little sparrow zips over lickety-split and snatches the cookie!

    Score: Sparrow 2, Lenore 0.

    Lenore is not a happy camper!

    This shall not stand. Her pathetic rubbery right foot prevents her from running over to the little crumb snatcher and demanding redress of grievances. Our sparrow pirate has dashed away, up and over and around to a tree out of reach.

    Lenore turns and gives me the standard stinkeye.

    "Well, are you just going to sit there and let this happen?"

    I offer a shrug. As my good friend, Alfred E. Newman says, "What--me worry?"

    I find myself speaking to Ms. Crow as any madman would in these circumstances.

    "Ya snooze, ya lose!"

    Lenore struts about like a feathered version of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp with an expression of, "Food must be here somewhere. Why would the old man at the table allow a crippled creature to starve?"

    Okay. I get the hint. I throw a faux Frito bit high over the table just as the door swings open again. Bad timing. Rotten luck. I don't have to tell you what happens next.


    Sparrow 3 Lenore 0 (One pissed off crow.)

    Suddenly, out of the blue of the Western sky a black blur plummets like a Stuka bomber at Dunkirk. Instead of the deadly rattle of 50 caliber machine guns, I hear the staccato "Caw Caw Caw"

    Not only does the sparrow get the hell out of Dodge, the precious morsel of ill-gotten gain gets left behind like a lone sinner on the day of Judgment having missed the rapture.

    Edgar the feathery Spitfire holsters his weapons and scoops up the Frito, swaggering like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, then he drops it on the sidewalk in front his Lady Guinevere.

    "Hey, you two get a room, okay?"

    Bloody show off.


    The Archie Chronicles (Day 6)


    Archie is a sparrow version of Gangsta'.

    For a little guy, he pushes his weight around; all 6 oz.

    I've been sitting here half an hour and the boodle he's boosted would land him in Leavenworth for five years with no time off for good behavior. Ain't no bird cops around to bust him.


    Two ladies sat outside at a table with fancy schmancy summer drinks, (whipped cream and frilly colors) and a paper sleeve from a straw blew off their table to the patio.

    Quicker than Mandrake's hypnotic gesture, Archie lands on her table as she stoops to catch the litter, and he nabs half a dozen crumbs from her muffin. Mind you, her friend is sitting right there going, "Oh-oh-oh look Doris--look!" gesturing like an Italian fishmonger--but Archie gives not a care. Quick in--quick out--grab the loot and scoot!

    I thought sparrows were a bit more reserved. Perhaps only the English sparrows with all their pomp and boarding school. Suffice to say, Archie, were he a dude, would have Tats of a dead cat on his biceps and would wear his pants low with his tidy whities showin'.

    I don't know what any of these fowl do for a bad case of parched beak--no puddles, fountains, or swimming pools are available to slake their thirst nearby. Being of a curious nature, I sit and observe steadily for ten minutes.

    Funny what you discover if you simply stop and observe. All these stores, restaurants, fast food places dump recycle and trash bags in bins out back. The birds take turns. In they go, make a hole in a bag, find a tossed Dr.Pepper cup with sugary fizz water--and out they come ripped on caffeine and a sugar high like little crack addicts!

    No wonder Archie is a criminal, he's zonked on speed!


    The Edgar Chronicles (Tuesday Day 7)


    It must be heatstroke.

    I'm dizzy to the point of imbalance; falling over like a newborn colt; up-wobble-drop.

    One hundred degrees is bearable, but concrete radiates waves of oven fresh annihilation beneath my bicycle tires and joins forces with the overhead dominion of Sol Invictus--I don't stand a chance.

    Fighting the repeated urge to puke on a freshly manicured lawn or two--I finally arrive at Starbucks.

    A few cups of water sans rocks proves itself salutary. Humans are 75% water. I'm 40%.

    I just need some time to orientate.

    Thence comes Edgar. . .


    Crows can "caw" but they can't converse. Right? Please say they can't!

    Edgar: "You're a putz, you know that?"

    Me: "Crows can't talk."

    Edgar: "Just keep telling yourself that."

    Me: "I'm Woozy. I need to lie down."

    Edgar: "Just sit and listen. You can deny everything later; blame it on the heat."

    Me: "Why is this happening?"


    Edgar: "Birds are polytheists. Did you know? Of course, you didn't. We are, though. People are the gods on our Mt. Olympus. Not like your idea of God Almighty, undependable gods--unpredictable, sometimes gracious and kind--otherwise ill-tempered and cruel."

    Me: "Oh shit. I should have stayed hydrated."

    Edgar: "You've been a gracious deity the last few days. I and my precious Lenore are obliged. We're not beholden, mind you--just grateful."

    Me: "Sigh--okay. I'll play. How do you know I'm a putz?"

    Edgar: "Don't ask questions if you don't want the answers."

    Me: "Nevermind."

    Edgar: "Nevermore."

    Me: "That's a Raven, not a crow."

    Edgar: "Like you'd know the difference?"


    I reach up under my shirt and rub my hand across the skin. Moisture--but not outright perspiration. There are pools under my eyelids as well as my hairline. I heave a deep breath and suck more H2o through the straw till the rattle signals 'empty.'

    Edgar is facing me in the chair opposite, perched on the top edge of the backrest.

    Me: "Know any good taxidermists?"

    Edgar: "You aren't looking too swift. The Bible says 'three score and ten' and that means your shelf date is drawing nigh."

    Me: "A scripture quoting crow! I'm really f**ked!"

    Edgar: "I'm no owl--but wise up--you need to finish your new book pretty soon and get it out there. As we say in the aviary: it may be your Swan Song."


    I try to stand. Not a great idea! Slumping back, I blink rapidly.

    Across the metal table outside Starbucks, the crow's yellow eyes bore in.

    Edgar: "Why have you been feeding Lenore and me? I'm curious. You don't strike me as the bleeding heart type."

    Me: "I'm god, remember?"

    Edgar: "You're 'a' god--one of a great many--a plague of gods. Don't kid yourself with self-importance. Now answer my query."

    I'm tempted to ignore the feathery delusion at this point. Instead, I suck in a few deep lungfuls of August air and wipe my eyes clear.

    Me: "I have no earthly idea."

    Edgar: "I'm not charismatic. I'm just hungry. All of us poor creatures are abandoned, hungry, thirsty and reduced to beggars and brigands. Why did you create us in the first place?

    Me: "I couldn't create lemon pie you chucklehead!"

    Edgar stares. I can't read a bird's mind or expressions; he may as well be a brick wall.

    Edgar: "Okaaaaay. You are at the top of the food chain, smarter that the rest of us, and you could easily make things pretty wonderful for each of us if you gods got together and decided to do it. But--you don't. You don't work together. You're like us in that way: creatures of destiny."

    Me: "I don't have the slightest idea what you're jibber-jabbering on about."

    Edgar: "I had a talk with a Moth yesterday. He told me why he wants to crash into a street lamp. He said he can't fly high enough to reach the moon! Imagine that--just imagine that."

    Me: "Go away, you're making no sense."

    Edgar: "That Moth is just like people."

    Me: "People don't eat holes in clothes."

    Edgar: "People are striving. They strive to be better than they are. Instead, they end up crashing into a street lamp over and over again. You know, like that Moth---trying and failing to reach the moon. Get it?"

    Me: "I don't know where you went to school, but here is a newsflash for you: we already reached the moon. And Mars."

    Edgar: "Don't be slow. The principle is the same. You are aiming for things unreachable. Crows don't do this. Sparrows don't either, the little thieving bastards!:

    Me: "Okay. Okay. I'm aiming for Neptune, but when I toss those Fritos, I hit crows. Got it. Thanks for the insight. Now go away."

    Edgar: "I told that Moth how much I appreciated the insight. I meant it."

    Me: "And-- then what?"

    Edgar: "And then, I ate him!"


    Edgar update:

    I just watched Edgar put the tip of his beak in my bicycle tire valve and let the air out of my tire!!


    I ran out of Fritos.

    That little bastard!


    Chronicles of Edgar: Murder of Crows (Day 8)


    Part One

    Puffy grey clouds have mushed together into lumpy, weightless gravy hanging above the Starbucks patio. Today is more pleasant than usual. Yesterday, the temperature in Fort Worth screamed out a blistering 106 F. yesterday. I think we all know what the F stands for!

    One of those Motor Coaches from a nearby Retirement Center chugged into the driveway about half an hour ago. “Motor Coach” is a frilly term for bus--a bus filled with blue-haired Seniors; all women. Obviously, no sane man would board such a vehicle and take such a daunting ride. Not more than once.

    I’m sitting 30 yards away and I can hear the crackle of timeworn voices: complaining. After the door hissed open, a non-stop cascade of complaints rose into the morning air like the smell of old tires burning.
    It would take a dead person about 45 seconds to cross the driveway to the entrance of Starbucks. These elderly citizens of a lost, ancient civilization, required at least 10 minutes of wandering, drifting, chaos.
    Go figure. Mostly, they stopped every few inches to complain. About every damn thing.

    There are two dozen Seniors and 7 of them elect to sit outside, dear God, 10 feet away from my table. The others fight over what they’ll get to drink while disappearing inside. I don’t dare glance over at them. I reckoned, if I remain stock still, not breathing, and look none of them in the eye, they won’t . . .

    The query is aimed at the invisible bullseye on my forehead. Why me, Lord? Why, why, why?

    “This is your first trip to Starbucks, I’m guessing.”

    “How did you know?”

    “Lucky guess. There is no waitress. The Barista inside will take your order--and your money.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “What does what mean?”

    “You said something about a blister.”

    “No--I said Barista. Buh. Riss. Tuh. It is a fancy word for the person who creates the beverage you order.”

    “Creates? What does that mean?”

    “Prepares your order of coffee. . .”

    “Oh, I don’t want coffee. It’s too hot for that!”

    “Nevermind the coffee--the PERSON who prepares your drink is called a Barista.”

    It went on like that. I knew I was doomed to inconsequential banter no matter how I wiggled. These ladies were bored to death with each other. They needed a fresh victim to slowly torture for amusement. Sort of like Emperor Caligula.

    And then--along comes Edgar!

    Game changer.

    The blue-haired, magnificent 7 seized on the topic of blackbirds, starlings, ravens, rooks, and crows.

    Thank you, Edgar. I think I’ve escaped their clutches. Right?


    I had made certain I had at least 2 kinds of crow dainties to offer the winged-extortionist today.

    No way I’d risk reprisals. I am chastened and well-trained. I know my place in God’s order of things. I have but one purpose on this Earth: to serve the needs and whims of my Crow Master.

    I flipped the faux Frito toward Egar. He stood impatiently between my table and the 7 Seniors. My toss was not perfectly calibrated, however. The errant chip landed much too close to one of the blue-coifed Biddies. She leaned down and snatched out off the concrete with amazing agility a half-second before the bird beak could snap shut.

    I said to my secret self: “Oh dear Lord Jesus--deliver me in my hour of need.”

    Have you ever seen the movie, THERE SHALL BE BLOOD?




    “Never feed a crow! Are you crazy? You’ll never get rid of it for the rest of your life!”

    I don’t know which was worse, her words, or the look Edgar gave me--blaming me for this soul-crushing, unforgivable loss.

    The lady chip-snatcher was directing her admonition directly at me, of course. As if cued by an offstage Director, the chanteuse began lamenting her odd tale quite theatrically.


    “I grew up in Iowa and my family and townsfolk learned the hard truth about crows. . .”

    What was I supposed to do now? I was poised with another chip in my hand. Edgar scrutinized my inaction like the judges at the Nuremberg tribunal. Who knows what fate hung in the balance?

    “Ma’am, I’ve been feeding this crow for over a week. In fact, I named him already. Heh-heh-heh.”

    A look of dawning horror flushed the otherwise pale face of Lady Crow Hater.

    The other Seniors at the table started in, peppering their companion with questions. This ridiculous topic was fresh meat! The piranhas circled for the feast. But first--the fable!


    “I grew up in a farming community in Boise, Idaho.” she began, “One year, thousands and thousands of crows passed through our town. It was sudden. Why now? Everybody wanted to know. Turns out one of the local children had been feeding a lone crow. Just one crow. Where’s the harm in that? Well, she made the same mistake you made. (Pointing at me with a craggy finger of doom). She gave it some corn. And each day, for a week, the bird returned for more. Then the crow stopped coming. That was that. Except--obviously--it wasn’t! There were now nearly half a million of the horrible, chattering demons filling the trees and bushes all over the city!”

    Unbelievably, Edgar hadn’t budged. It was as though he too was interested in this ominous crow fable unraveling in such dramatic overtones, from the mouth of the klepto-Frito dame with the blue hair and hot red lipstick.

    “Farmers were roused with alarm at the sight of all those ravenous creatures. They knew all too well the devastation which lay ahead. A hasty town hall meeting was arranged by the Mayor. Open Season was declared. A small bounty was placed on crows. Two-bits each, 4 dead crows brought a dollar. The menfolk that night pulled their rifles and shotgun down off the mantle for cleaning and loading.”

    I cringed in anticipation of where this story was heading. Should Edgar be exposed to such a violent story? I certainly didn’t want to hear it--why would he? I stood and walked toward the crow, to shoo him. Damn if he didn’t give me a boisterous, “Caw!” He wouldn’t budge!

    The tale continued to unwind.

    “One of the local farmers carried a rifle in the back of his pickup truck. Straightaway, after the Town hall meeting, he marched to his Chevy and pulled the gun off the rack and took aim at one the blackbirds on top of the flagpole in front of the courthouse. You could hear the ‘bang’ all over town. Here’s the spooky part.

    Until that rifle was fired, there was a constant background of bird chatter and ‘cawing’ so loud and ever present, we had stopped being conscious of it. It was just like living next to a waterfall--nobody noticed any longer. With the gunfire, however, a weird silence descended like a black curtain.”
    Townsfolk were drawn by the rifle shot out of the storefronts, barbershop, and beauty parlor. What did we all see? Farmer Hutchins--standing there next to the flagpole--holding a dead crow, hanging upside down by it’s leg in his hand; he had a big old grin on his red face. He said, ‘The Mayor owes me a quarter!’ Everybody clapped. That was pretty funny. At least, for a few hours.”




    As soon as Our Lady of Perpetual Chatter uttered the lamentable words, “Dead Crow”, Edgar gave a hop and a half--Zoom! Gone in a feathery flash. Well, thank goodness for small blessings.

    Or so I thought.

    “Next morning, there were a couple of hundred men wandering all over the place wearing favorite deer season hunting gear; top to bottom: red plaid shirts, duck hunter vests, waders, ammo belts crisscrossing their chests like Pancho Villa. By sundown, they wandered back into town empty-handed. Nobody had seen or shot anything but squirrels and rabbits--and only those out of frustration and having their blood up for a kill. None of us could believe our dumb luck. The crows had gone--all half million of them. The sight of one assassination had been enough to get the message across.”

    One of the other ladies wasn’t satisfied. She frowned and pouted.
    “Why did you say this was a ‘Spooky’ story? There wasn’t anything the slightest bit weird. Crows are smart. Why would they remain in town and get shot?”

    The first lady snorted indignantly.

    “Well, Viola--I wasn’t finished--do you mind?”

    I glanced around behind me and in the trees and bushes for any sign of Edgar. Nada.

    “All that commotion took place on a Friday and Saturday. Come Sunday evening, Farmer Hutchins had not returned from his favorite fishing hole down at the creek. He wasn’t the sort of man to stay out past sundown. His wife grew frantic. Next morning, his brother set out for the fishing hole and wasted no time climbing down the hill toward the creek. There he found him. He was dead.”

    Of course, the storyteller had stopped. This is what tellers of tall tales are expert at doing. At just the right moment--they stop and allow the listeners to clamor and beg for details. It’s some sort of satisfying ego move--a finesse, I guess you’d say. The lady knew her audience. She paused and immediately 6 blue-hairs cackled and begged like hounds with a sniff of dinner at a kitchen screen door. When the last, “Tell us what happened” had rung silent, she nodded and smiled satisfied with herself.

    “He had bled to death. A leaf with a serrated edge was stuck in his neck inside a sliced wound--directly across his carotid artery. A LEAF! There was no knife. There was no jagged lid of a Pork-n-Beans can, or anything like what you might expect. It was the craziest thing anybody--including the Sheriff and Coroner had ever seen. The Medical Examiner was flown in from the big city nearby. He couldn’t explain it. He said it only took 15 seconds to die. There was no reason to suspect anything but a freak accident--which, of course--nobody could explain. Then, a little fellow named Morris who was a Taxidermist spoke up. He spotted something which aroused his curiosity.”

    Another pause. She was milking this for all it was worth.

    “Morris asked why there were bloody crow tracks on Farmer Hutchin’s shirt. Nobody else had paid a bit of attention. There was plenty of blood and you better believe stomachs were turned that morning. But, Morris knew all sorts of things about wild creatures. He knew Crow tracks.”

    The door to the front of Starbucks burst open and the entire herd of garrulous Seniors poured out like geese, squawking and complaining exactly the same as when they’d entered fifteen minutes earlier.

    None of the inside group wanted to sit outside. The outside group hadn’t even received one sip of the drinks they hadn’t ordered. The two groups switched.

    Half an hour later, it was time for the carnival of old souls to pull up stakes and scoot back to the Twilight Zone of Retirement Living.

    That’s exactly what should have happened. It didn’t.

    The Motor Coach filled with a dozen old Biddies--including one Frito thief--discovered something which delayed them in the parking lot for another 45 minutes.

    A flat tire.
    Hmmm. I had a tire like that yesterday.

    Right, Edgar?



  • Barrold Bonds
  • JRK

    Glad you locked your bike.


  • rebel8

    Best post of the year

  • OnTheWayOut


    You hang out at Starbucks but have asked in the past for help paying for your bike. ??????
    You could make coffee at home. Don't get me wrong. I love Starbucks, but I pay for my bike.

    At least you brought your own sandwich.

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Great stuff, Mr.T, as always!

    I have a special place in my dark heart for these black birds, and the ones who live near me are LARGER and GLOSSIER than those who eke out a living two miles away.

    Crows have a demonstrated ability to recognize individual humans, and they are very social birds, so they talk amongst themselves about who is friend or foe. If a person tries to harm a crow, he WILL BE remembered. By the crows.

    They are carnivoires. They will go nuts over a can of dog or cat food that has been lovingly opened and attractively plated for them. Utensils will be unnecessary.

    They really enjoy the effort they must expend to open an in-the-shell peanut. Peanuts are good protein, too. Thank you forever, George Washington Carver!

    From time to time I will get some liver, cut it into chunks they can handle, and offer it to them RAW as "roadless kill carrion." They don't complain.

    Lenore's circumstances trouble me. Probably she fell victim to a mousetrap or snare, and I fear her prospects are grim. The blind eye of Jehovah cares not a whit for the birds of the field. They are on their own, as we are.

    In Washington State it is illegal to keep a crow as a pet, so when I hear crows in my neighborhood making unusual sounds - one says "Hello" in a voice like an old lady in heaven and another perfectly replicates the sound of a Coo Coo Clock, I am mystified about how this came to be. Other neighbors are equally mystified. It is a wonderful sacred secret that only the crows know in full.

    Quote the raven, "Evermore!"

  • Listener
    Of course, the storyteller had stopped. This is what tellers of tall tales are expert at doing. At just the right moment--they stop and allow the listeners to clamor and beg for details. It’s some sort of satisfying ego move--a finesse, I guess you’d say. The lady knew her audience. She paused and immediately 6 blue-hairs cackled and begged like hounds with a sniff of dinner at a kitchen screen door. When the last, “Tell us what happened” had rung silent, she nodded and smiled satisfied with herself.

    Great story and I laughed at the way you managed to put that pause in before telling us what had happened, being the true storyteller that you are.
  • TerryWalstrom

    I've never been the guy with binoculars who seeks out birds for amusement or scientific scrutiny.
    If I ride too close to a branch nest, grackles fly down and peck at my head.
    So, my 1st close encounters with a crow seemed more a passing novelty than a fit topic for a story.
    Then, little by little, I was pulled in. The balance between fascination and horror strung me along.

    I detect little in the way of charm in Edgar. He's more like a career criminal or confidence grifter. But that may well be prejudice on my part. I'm more and more impressed by the intelligence of these birds.
    When I watched him stick the point of his beak in my tire valve and let the air out--I have to tell you I was fascinated beyond belief!
    But then, the bullying nature of it crept in, too.
    We're not buddies, that's for sure.
    There is an undertone of connivance. He'd make a great Governing Body candidate.

  • oppostate

    Wonderful story, Terry.

    I liked the vivid imagery your descriptions paint.

    Thanks for sharing the story!

  • Finkelstein

    When I watched him stick the point of his beak in my tire valve and let the air out

    Really ?

    Yes Crows or Ravens are one the most intelligent birds.

    and yes they sure can be aggressive when coming close to one their nests.

    Liked the story Terry otherwise , well written and imaginative !

Share this