The Murder of Crows – Short Story
Peer pressure and wayward ways, we were called the Front yard boys. There was Jimmy “Pecker” Peck, he was our leader. The toughest kid in school but the weakest in his household, every time we met up he always had a fresh-cut or shining sable eye. He was always the first into conflict and last to leave our gang when the streetlights flicked on. Troy “Peeps” Epson, he was the brains of our operation, he let us copy his homework which he handed in on time and received full marks. Don’t let the thick rimmed glasses fool you; he takes them off every time we fight for school yard territory or rep.
Stevie “Ste” Banks, he was the fastest runner in our school and always excelled in every gym lesson we had. He was the only black kid in school, so he hung around with all of us so no one got the wrong impression to make fun of his colour when the adults weren’t around. And for the nineteen thirties Idaho, it was rather a big deal for some eyes.
And then there was me. Derek “Mazie” Maze, second in command to Pecker, we were that must have best friends we finished off each other’s sentences and usually saw eye to eye when it came to having fun and causing mayhem.
In a lined formation we four already bored on a gloriously saffron morning of the best day of the week, Saturday. We walk down the dust alley at the back of our neighbourhood, we hung out there, telling jokes, looking at saucy magazines one of us had stolen from our big brothers, or let Peeps come up with a great ways to cause havoc in our town without getting caught.
“God, I’m already bored and barely even weekend, tell me if this is what getting old means then life can keep it, cause I never want to be bored.” Pecker spat, chucking dust rocks at trash cans.
Peeps lay on the grass opposite the trash cans. I sat wracking my brains, trying to figure out how not to waste this perfect day with my friends. Ste dribbles a half crushed coca cola can with his feet.
I pipe up. “Peeps what’s on your mind buddy?” With his hands placed behind his head he stares up at circling birds.
“Did you know when birds hatch from their eggs they imprint on the first bird or creature they see.”
“That’s it!” I leap from the trash can. “I’ve always wanted a pet but my mom is allergic to cats and dogs and money is kind’a tight but she always said I could have a bird.”
With his arms opened in an order to us all. “Well lets go get Mazie a pet bird.” Pecker urges.
We all arrive at the Gershwin Tree, the biggest tree in all the state. My dad used to tell me the story of the Gershwin Tree before bed. Legend has it the tree only homes crows, crows help deliver souls to the other side once they had passed. Hundred of crows flock around the area where we stand; the tree is a shrine for them all. It feeds and homes them. Caws and flapped wings are all you can hear. More than a dozen birds a keeping watchful eyes on us from the floor as they forage in the ground for worms.
“You want it Mazie, go fetch.” Pecker commands with a pointed finger.
Is it a bad time to reveal this is a bad idea?
“Yeah Mazie, good luck teaching a stupid bird anything buddy, why not get a grass snake their probably hundreds in this field to feed this murder.” Ste amps his smirks comment at me.
One or two birds are fine to be around but when I am climbing up a prison full of these murders my thoughts will begin to race. One – two steps; I am standing in the shadow of the godlike conifer tree. The calls of the birds echo deep within my soul, a wild fear takes hold of my breaths. I reach my hands up and take hold of a furry terracotta branch and begin to hoist myself upwards. Every level of the colossal tree no less than five birds flees their homes from this unwary invader.
“Hurry up you wussy!” The hollered yells egg me onwards and upwards. “Just pick one all ready!”
Deep within the confines of overlapping corbeau branches sits a nest; the sunlight peers in ever so slightly to look upon the secret bird which tweets away chirpily to itself. I creep closer, hanging on for dear life.
“Hey there little guy.” I introduce my head, blocking out the rays of light. The tweeter stands shocked, facing away from me, his left eye glued to my motion. I hesitate for a sec before I unwittingly take which is not mine. My hands clamp around the body of the chirper whilst it squiggles his or her jerking head.
“Hey he’s got one, hurry bring it on down here!” Heckles make my mind made up.
I clamber down the maze of shedding bark and cobwebs with one hand, as I reach the last few meters there is a three meter drop blocking my freedom from this cell of bird droppings and screeches from beyond the grave.
“Just Jump it, don’t be a wimp now Mazie, you’re so close.” I can see in Peckers eyes that was an order. I take in a few breaths before I take a leap into gravity but just as I take flight downwards a blur of atrous feathers clouds my judgement and senses, I plunge down, wafting my arms in a frenzy of defence against my attacker from the sky.
“Mazie, are you okay? Damn bird tried to peck out your eyes.” Ste picks me up to my feet as I shake off the bad landing. “Look…” Peeps sputters crouching in the grass, his unblinking eyes fixed into his cupped hands.
“What is it, Peeps?” The boss ponders. We all gather around him and from up here we all see a lifeless crow chick, my mind musters and flutters into one thousand pieces.
“What have I done?” I confess my soul. “It was an accident Mazie, don’t worry about it, death happens” Pecker assures me with his arm slumped over my shoulders. “Let’s split guys.”
Peeps places the chick back on the fingers of grass gently and shuffles away. I stay staring at the bird; I have done a bad deed. The flaps of wings still circle, an immense fuliginous crow lands on an empty branch, the weight of the bird almost snaps the trees arm. The bird doesn’t break eye contact with me I can see her flammeous eyes burn through me. She begins to screech within her caw, it almost bloodies the ear. The clouds curdle and the suns candle is blown away, a storm is coming. I back away slowly, still in shock. The Front-yard Boys have walked on ahead. I cannot escape this ringing of the bird’s cries. I run.
I ravish the sheets; my mind has too much guilt to rest my soul for the night. I squeeze my eyes tight, hoping the discomfort would keep my eyes closed until daylight. I am too warm under my covers and too cold outside of them. All I can daydream about is the chick dying by my foolish actions.
A thud at my window makes me shoot to an upright position, my eyes widened to the possibility of fear. Clicks and taps at my window make me question to investigate or hide under my covers.
I sluggishly tiptoe from my bed to the window; the curtains hide my glass knocker. Shall I gradually open them or swiftly shift both sides. I stick with the second. I promptly push the curtains aside. Sitting upon my windowsill sit the crow from earlier, my heart sinks to the depths of despair and my thoughts lead only to revenge upon me. I attempt to frighten off my terror, roaring and throwing plastic soldiers and socks at my window to make the bird take off. I look in her eyes and with her black eyes she glances into my blackened soul.
I give up.
The bird jumps to the centre of the window and turns around, she begins to caw out into the twinkle night sky. I look over the bird into the distance and see the night blur darker. I squint in scrutiny, what is that? The rumble of noise soon becomes apparent; hundreds of crows are coming for me. I stand in stagger; you cannot run from whatever the sky provides.
The claps of tinkered talons chip on my rooftop, creeks from the shabby ceiling and wood walls elongate through my ears as fingers of noise. All of the crows must be working together to unwrap the head of my house. The top corner comes away from my bedroom. I am opened to the elements of raining crows. The mother bird enters my bedroom from the gaping hole, perched on my chest-of-drawers next to my comics and figurines.
“I know why you’re here.” I caw at the crow, she talks back.
An army of wings and black beaks swoop down and clasp on to my pyjamas. They lift me up into the air, through the bird made break. They carry me in through the clouds over the rooftops of my friend’s homes. I can see the Gershwin Tree in the foreground.
I took her chick from their home and killed it, they kidnapped me to suffer the same fate. This is my own entire fault.
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