MONOLOGUE: Garden of Crows

by Brian Beatty

Setting:
Front porch of a broken-down suburban ranch house. Piles of black feathers litter downstage.

Time:
Early morning, just a flickering hint of sunlight.

Character:
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STEVE wears plaid flannel pajama bottoms, a contrasting flannel shirt, a ragged, outdated sport coat, muddy work boots and a hunter orange knit cap pulled down to his eyebrows. 

STEVE

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.

[Pause.]

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.

[Pause.]

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.

[Pause.]

Look at me now. Not a pretty picture. I know it.

[Pause.]

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.

[Pause.]

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. 

[Long pause.]

Besides the goddamn noise what annoys me about these goddamn crows is the goddamn mess they make. Policemen may want to hear all about the black feathers I have arranged around the perimeter of my front yard, may wonder what kind of voodoo I’ve been up to—but bird shit, that’s the actual threat. That’s how most human diseases spread. Ask any doctor.

[Pause.]

Maybe they’re not so dumb. Maybe they damn well know the danger they pose to my neighbors and me.

[Pause.]

Feathers. That’s all that’s left after my gun is finished with one of these mouthy little monsters. Scraps of meat or bone that do happen to land in the yard, my dog gobbles up. He’s as pissed as I am the crows show us no respect.

[Pause.]

Some sunrises are pinks and oranges. Others are various shades of blue, from dark midnight to a bright robin’s egg. I’ve seen them all colors out here. What I’ve not noticed is my neighbors volunteering to do anything about this crow problem.

[Pause.]

They say it’s not so bad.

[Pause.]

That I’m overreacting.

[Pause.]

Nobody’s woken me up for a “good morning” fuck in a long time. Which isn’t the solution to this problem, I realize. It’s not. At my age I can’t afford another distraction. That’s how the little things get away from you. Then you look up and the big things are out of control.

[Pause.]

I suppose I could sit out here writing up a bestseller novel called Fifty Shades of Kiss My Tired, Bitter Ass. Out here with my cup of coffee and my laptop computer, like those kids along the downtown sidewalks pretending they’re living in Paris in a different time. Sometimes I feel like ruining the rest of their lives. Shoving my truck into gear and crashing it up over the curb outside one of their coffee house hangouts would be the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to them. Bopping their soft, empty heads along to their little white earphones, they’d never hear me coming. But doing something like that would be overreacting.

[Pause.]

Every woman I ever married accused me of having a rotten heart. Or, worse, no heart at all. That’s a terrible thing to say to the man you love. Plain cruel. Even if you tell him he’s handsome when you’re drunk.

[Pause.]

Then they typically threatened me with leaving. As if I’d never heard that classic before.

[Pause.]

Next time I’m visited by door-to-door evangelicals interested in sharing their savior’s plans for my soul, I’m going to ask them what they would do, exactly, in my boots. Besides pray. On the one hand, I never was a sleeper. On another, neighbors keep their distance because they think they’ve got all the answers.

[Pause.]

About my wives. My ex-wives.

[Pause.]

The stares I get from these know-it-alls aren’t any smarter than the ones I get from the birds. I’m just trying to establish a little peace around here. Some quiet.

[Pause.]

If I could bake pies, I’d try that, maybe. If I believed it would truly put an end to all the gossip and rumors, I would register for pie classes.

[Pause.]

Unfortunately pies would not stop the racket outside my window. The only way I know to take care of this situation is exactly how I’ve chosen to handle it. What these birds keep cackling about, I have no idea. But I do know that I can’t afford to find out one day, out of the blue, that some of my neighbors have figured it out.

[Pause. Start fade to black.]

Because that would be tragic.

copyright © 2012 Brian Beatty. All rights reserved.

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Brian Beatty’s jokes, monologues, poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Bark, Conduit, elimae, Exquisite Corpse, The Evergreen Review, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Juked, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Opium, Paper Darts, Phoebe, Rain Taxi, The Rake, Seventeen and Writer. Brian wrote and performed his solo comedy show, The Big Four Oh, for 2010’s Minnesota Fringe Festival. As a stand-up comedian, he’s performed across the Twin Cities and at the Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles. 

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