Edgar's (the local crow) Last Chance
EDGAR’S LAST CHANCE
Have you ever seen a Starbucks patio at night?
The bright, cold moon washes the empty tables, chairs, and concrete with a silver glow.
A still southern breeze sweeps the ghosts of old stories into shadows (and by stories I mean CROW stories.) But some CROW stories, like the crows themselves, just won't go away.
A certain corner of a certain table where a certain Crow is known to cavort, echoes with stories more hideous than the nightmares of POE himself!
This is such a story!
He thinks I don’t catch him poking his sinister face from behind that bush over there.
Oh, I’m onto his tricks.
Not all of them, of course. He’s too changeable in his criminality to fall into a groove of habits easily detected.
Truth be told, he’s on to my tricks as well. My habits are more figure-out-able. For instance, somehow or other (spy network) he knows I bought cashews at the corner store. This is unbearably exciting for Edgar. He also knows I love to tease him with the prospect of eating them all myself while he watches!
This will not stand.
The game is this. His job is to distract me.
I temporarily drop my guard, swift as William Tell’s crossbow bolt split the apple--zing!
Edgar will grab the loot, vanishing in a puff of Mephistophelian smoke. Theatrical and predictable. That’s his game.
I admit once or twice he DID manage to distract me. Cheap tricks.
I’m a fast learner, too.
The game is harder and increasingly difficult for both of us as weeks go by.
Our challenge has turned into a crisis of inter-species rivalry for dominance. The Cashew Wars have escalated and I despair--one day--the feathered felon might well prove my Nemesis is more clever than I.
Last evening, I remained late on the patio.
A friend of mine was to pick me up (bicycle and all) in his truck and we’d be off to the local Pub for Darts n’ Beer.
I had teased Edgar all day long. I made a big show of opening the cashew bag and removing a nugget of scrumptious temptation, placing it in my mouth, savoring it on my tongue and making “Yum, oh Mmmmm, delicious” remarks.
He’d attempted subtle, not-so-subtle and outright fiendish tricks to distract me. None of them worked because (may the record reflect) HE is the bird brain, not I.
At each attempt, the bold, brassy bird redoubled his efforts, cleverness, and resourceful stratagems. Bupkiss!
About eight in the evening, I got a call--plans had changed.
Now, I had to ride home on the bicycle (in the dark) with only my headlight and taillight to protect me from the forces of evil.
Sure, I could have simply made a big show of generosity. I could dump all cashews on the table and yell, “Come and get it, ya bloody Bugger!”
That’s NOT how our contest is structured.
Edgar’s role is to DISTRACT me and he’d failed. So, no reward.
I had scored on the big board and nothing but an embarrassing goose egg in Edgar’s column.
Or so I believed at the time…
The cashews were in a carry bag with TARGET store logo. It was my taunt to select a bag with a large red target. A bit too on the nose, eh. (I mean, “beak.”)
I kept it right at my elbow all the day long. In plain sight. Easy pickings for a truly brilliant adversary, wouldn’t you say?
I hefted my backpack in place, unlocked the bicycle from the fence rail, checked the air in my tires, clicked on my head and tail lights--(while keeping an eye on my cashew bag).
I steeled myself. This would be Edgar’s last chance at the cashews--his beloved, delectable, beak-watering tasty treat. Now or never. Go big or go home, I say.
I could see the silhouette of the bandit bird next to his hidey-hole. The peeping head had darted in and back a few hundred times over the length of the day. I half expected an onslaught of renegade mercenary birds bribed by Edgar or a sudden beak in my eye or---?
Now, pay close attention. I don’t want to have to say this twice. This is what happened.
As a final “I WIN” taunt, I made a showy display of picking up the cashew bag, opening it, reaching down inside for the last taste treat and---YIKES!
A horrifying scream could be heard piercing the evening. It was an inhuman shriek of pure horror. The voice was mine.
Folks inside Starbucks stopped what they were doing and turned to witness a tall, screaming man with a backpack, thrashing his arms about, swatting at one of the tables outside.
What in hell was going on?--I’m sure they wondered.
As we all know, a few days ago Halloween arrived.
There are many ways folks celebrate. Usually, efforts are expended trying to frighten small children who Trick-or-Treat door to door. Some neighbors go all out, don’t they? Sure.
Those folks go to all sorts of trouble to horrify young, defenseless kids dressed as hobgoblins, witches, and Wonder Wimmins. Yes, the more mentally flaky folks might even resort to props of a horrifying nature to decorate the yard, porch, and windows of a house for a scary effect.
Crows, being highly intelligent, observe this annual custom with enormous curiosity.
As I reached into the Target bag, Edgar’s head popped out from behind the bushes. Yes, there was something of delightful interest he didn’t want to miss--no sir-did NOT want to miss!
My hand entered the Target bag and the delicate, tender, innocent fingers splayed and wiggled into the bottom, probing for cashews. I gripped and pulled out the contents--which did NOT exactly feel like a cellophane bag of nuts.
As my hand emerged, my pituitary gland flashed a giant RED light, my adrenal glands squirted two pints of emergency dosage for fight or FLIGHT.
I was holding--not a bag o’ nuts. No.
I was holding--not a stash of cashews. No.
I was holding a monstrous, black handful of BLACK TARANTULA!!
AGGGGGH! I HATE BUGS. I HATE SPIDERS. AGGGGGGGH!
Those who know me well may not know much worth repeating. They do, however, know how terrified of spiders I am. I was once bitten by a brown recluse and went into a coma. I was but a child back then. The fear, the phobia--ARACHNOPHOBIA--to be precise, has never departed.
My heart was pounding a mile a minute as I instinctively recoiled, screamed, flailed, and otherwise made a giant donkey of myself in front of everybody.
Had it been a REAL spider, there would just cause, (Instead, there were just "Caws')
I’m sure you’ll all agree, being laughed at is bullying.
Sadly (not complaining, mind you) it was NOT a real Tarantula at all.
Previously that evening, at some fiendishly undetected instant of time, Edgar had stolen the cashews and substituted a very realistic Halloween prop from God knows where.
He’d hung around to see the fruits of his criminal enterprise come to full blossom.
I looked into his bright yellow eyes where smug victory registered as brightly as the North Star shines.
If he’d owned an eyebrow, he’d have arched it.
He had won the game.
His adversary had been defeated, humiliated, and cowed.
The ride home was a time of dark soul searching for a mere human that evening.
Somewhere else in the city, a Crow party was held, with dancing, munching and backslapping storytelling--tales of stupid humanity--hubris, and a comeuppance for people who think they can tease a criminal mastermind with impunity.
I’m sure at this party, the piece de resistance served was a bag of ill-gotten cashews.
Damn you, Edgar!
This isn’t over!!
I love crows. They are cheeky and they know how to amuse themselves. One time camping, I heard a crow talking to himself. He rattled, purred and made a lot of interesting uncrow like sounds. Then a moment of silence. I swear he started laughing at his own joke. CAW CaaWW CAAAAwwww. Rats and Crows are very much alike in their ways. I love them both.
Uncanny. That's what I've observed. This particular crow has let the air out of my bicycle tire when I rebuffed his panhandling.
I love your stories Terry. I've read this to my family, too.
Love your story. Hate crows.
Crows are like the one person in every family who always seems to be broke, borrowing tools and not bringing them back, forgetful of promises. We know the type.
But, "smart" is smart. Living by your wits only sharpens them.
Although there is a collegial community among these birds; they're pretty independent.
Endlessly surprising, from my POV.