by Brian Beatty
Front porch of a broken-down suburban ranch house. Piles of black feathers litter downstage.
Early morning, just a flickering hint of sunlight.
STEVE, Late 40s.
STEVE wears plaid flannel pajama bottoms, a contrasting flannel shirt, a ragged, outdated sport coat, muddy work boots and a hunter orange knit cap pulled down to his eyebrows.
These neighborhood crows know something they’re not telling us—and they refuse to shut up about it. So I’m out here every morning, a bit before sunrise, with my cup of coffee and my shotgun.
What I’m doing is doing everybody a favor. That’s right. A favor. Can’t leave your windows open if you expect to get any kind of beauty rest. That’s what my wife used to say. My ex-wife.
Before all this ruckus, I was one handsome son-of-a-bitch. She’d say that once in a while, too. If she was drunk.
Look at me now. Not a pretty picture. I know it.
So my plan is to blast every last one of these birds to Crow-dom Come. Their smug, smart-ass days are numbered. Nobody appears to miss the couple dozen I’ve blasted so far. Haven’t heard any complaints, anyway. Except that morning some shot ricocheted off a city streetlamp post and beaned Mrs. Nelson’s front door window glass. She got a little upset, I suppose. Then I got upset. That crack cost me a hundred bucks. But the old lady was sweet as can be again, once it was all fixed up. She carried over a pie fresh from the oven the very next day. Old Man Nelson chuckled he wished she’d find it in her heart to be that nice to him sometimes. Then the two of them scooted back over to their house to hide.
I quartered that hundred-dollar pie into four and ate it for breakfast the rest of that week. Brought it out here so the birds could see I wasn’t done with them. Tossed the plates off the porch like clay pigeons. Thought that would send the message. Think again. These are the dumbest goddamn creatures you’ve ever seen. They just keep it up with that same stupid, blank stink-eye. As if I’m the one ought to be scared. I’m not scared. Merely annoyed. We’re not living in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950s around here. Continue reading