I am losing control, I know I am, but...
It was on a Tuesday. I went to get the mail and there were six or seven dead crows by the box. I thought, Those goddamn Clark boys have been shooting their B.B guns again! So I resolved to call old man Clark and give him a piece of my mind, except I forgot. That happens to all of us: It's not unusual. I remembered about four o’clock the next morning when I got up. Well, I told myself, Mail comes at ten, I'll get that, then I'll call up and have that talk.
I make deals like that with myself all the time. Sometimes it works out fine sometimes it doesn't. It didn't.
Ten came and I forgot to get the mail. I remembered at eleven thirty, cursed myself and went for my walk to the box.
I live alone. I have since Jane died. That was another hot summer when she went. I used to farm back then. I retired early a few years back. I rent out the fields. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
I walked to the mail box cursing myself as I went. When I got there I realized the Clark boys had either turned to eating crows or they had nothing to do with the dead crows in the first place. There were dozens of dead crows, barn swallows, gulls. The dirt road leading up to my place was scattered with dead birds, dark sand where the blood had seeped in. Feathers everywhere, caught in the trees, bushes and the ditches at the side of the road. There were three fat, black crows sticking out of my mailbox: Feet first; half eaten.
Some noise in the woods had made me turn, but I didn't turn fast enough. Whatever had made the noise was gone once I got turned in that direction, but there were bare footprints in the dry roadbed next to the box. They were not clear, draggy, as though the person had, had a bad leg. He had of course, but I had yet to meet the owner.
I seen him almost a week later.
I was sitting by the stove that night and heard a scrape on the porch.
His leg was bad. Somebody had shot him, but this fella had worse things going on than that. He was dead. What was a bum leg when you were dead? Small problem. But it made him drag that leg. I'm getting ahead of myself again though.
I picked up my old shot gun where it sat next to the door, eased the door open and flicked on the porch light. He jumped back into the shadows.
“Step out into the light,” I tried not to sound as afraid as I was.
“No,” he rasped
“Step out here or I'll shoot,” I tried again.
Nothing but silence, and in that silence I got a bad feeling. Something was wrong. It came to me about the same time that he stepped into the light. There was no sound of breathing. It was dead quiet, that was what my panicked mind was trying to tell me. My own panicked breathing was the only sound until he stepped into the light dragging his leg.
My heart staggered and nearly stopped...