logo image a digital codex of contemporary pan-american writing

Issue 19, Prosa | September 2016



The tormenting began in the spring. He would stand behind a wall or beneath a tree, always hidden, waiting for one of us to come close. Without warning he’d let loose a loud noise, or hurl a stone. As word spread about the problem a few came to see for themselves. Our increased presence seemed to make him even bolder, to the point where he began to wait in clear daylight for a chance to threaten or harm anyone in reach. One had to be always on guard. It was annoying. It was dangerous. We hated it and accepted it.

By late summer a few of us had been lost. Poison has a distinct smell but takes a while to recognize, especially disguised as something edible. There could be no doubt as to who was responsible. A meeting was held to collectively consider the options. A few wanted to leave. There were plenty of places to go where we could be left alone. Others sought a more dramatic solution. As was customary we voted and developed a plan. The well he frequented every few days was an easy place to return his favors. We dropped in what we could as the opportunities arose and if the sun was right our efforts were rewarded with a small sparkle that would flash back at us as we hurried away. We watched and waited.

Mornings and evenings passed. Then one hot afternoon we saw him stagger out of the place he slept. At first he paid no attention to us. As we slowly gathered, sitting on the fences and walls that surrounded the property, he began screaming and cursing as if, by incantation alone, he could make us all vanish. This time no one moved. He moaned and fell to the ground, rolled on his back and shuddered. A swirl of black dots filled his vision.

The logic of crows can be ruthless. We gathered, chose our spots carefully and swept in.

Linocut by Richard Trauger