Scaring The Crows Away
“Gather it round!” said the man called Deets whose land it was. His jaw moved in a fast chew, a grin around a curling stub of cigarette. With some hesitation they came closer. Some of ‘em seemed afraid to come too close, though my mouth was full of straw. “Don’t be scared folks!”
“He don’t bite!” another followed. A man I didn’t know the name of nearby to me, seated atop the piler straw massed on the waggin where I was laying down. He had him a rifle, though it was propped like a cane, knowing there was to be no shootin’, was hard to see sense in shootin’ a feller who don’t got no bones in his arms. He pointed to where a small girl was stood with her pappa. “Make room for lil’ miss!” He began movin’ em aside with a sweep of a hand. “Come on, you! Make room!”
“Wanna touch him Carlyn?” that little thing’s daddy asked. He lifted her, her dress billowing like a flower. Had a good wristwatch on him, buried in hair-curls. Must’ve been one of them rich folks from out Taunton River. “Touch him!”
The little thing’s eyes bugged wide, seeing herself, her reflection, in me I guess, though what she saw and how she saw it I don’t know. That feller with the rifle moved her hand, stroking my face, and I sensed her flinchin’ at how rough it felt. How strange I was to her. She ain’t never touched one like me before, I guess. Lord knows none of ‘em hardly had. Wasn’t really touchin’ they was doin to bring me to this place. Wasn’t really nothin’ they could feel.
“Funny ain’t he?”
“Put me down poppa!” the little thing squawked.
The others laughed. Boy, there was a lot of laughin’. Like a day at the fair, I guess. Even down to the whiskered man over yonder by the stalks settin’ a camera. Never seein’ no camera before, I turned my head to watch him, but it was hard to move like that. Straw spilled from my lips. Another man with a rifle began tuggin’ me about.
“Well folks, who’s ready?” Deets called, beamin’ about. “Who wants to see’m mounted up?”
With that, I was wrenched up to standing, held that way by three – four – of them burlies and a bunch others. Yet more of that durn straw spillin’ from my lips, the cold air all enterin’ its place. They held me there a moment or two in which I remember the sunlight and the little girl down below, huggin’ at her daddy’s leg.
I shook my head. Tried to. Hard to move like that.
“Any last words boy?” Deets was askin’.
Fingers went in, pulled out summore of that durn straw. Now summavit even went the wrong ways, and I admit to retchin’ a little in Deets fingers. There was laughter at that, but Deets wasn’t laughin’ none. For a moment I guess I figgered he’d whip me, but he didn’t, only wiped his hand down the rags of my shirt. Suppose he wasn’t mad, knowing what was comin’. I spat down my chest..
“Last words, dummy! Talk!”
“Don’t got…” I went mumblin’, sweatin, though it was cold, “…I’m sorry.”
“Hm?” the man with the rifle snatched at the cloth clung about my throat, pullin’ my head round to see him. I heard that camera. Stutterin’ and poppin’. “What you sorry for, boy? You wanna apologize for somethin’, that it?”
I nodded. “For what I do…an’ what I is.”
“You know what you is?”
I didn’t say.
“Why, my new scarecrow occourse!” Deets smiled up at me. “Gonna make sure you scare the rester them crows out of Clay County.” He turned. “Mount him up!”
With that I felt the tug and heard that camera. Heard it go a pop-poppin’ away.
About the author
George Alan Bradley: With stories inspired by a broad spectrum of science fiction, suspense, fantasy, and horror, the world of George’s writing is one of dark shapes, distressed landscapes, and sharp objects. It is a world in which ordinary people find themselves confronted by monsters – both real and imaginary.
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