Scarecrow


scary scaregrow

I will tell you the story of the scarecrow’s birth. He was born in a small deer farm near where the road passes not far from the second hand tire store. He was born in Bull’s Blood Junction, so small a town that pizza was unknown and meat might be jerky, might be carrion, and might not be had at all. An old town, Bull’s Blood Junction. People said in Bull’s Blood the rain runs red, and every man, woman and child in Bull’s Blood is anemic. This was, of course, because of the scarecrow, his sad life, the cutting, the pain, the heartache, the rotting seeds. That scarecrow, who started out in life just a broomstick and a worn-out petticoat, didn’t scare much of anything until his first Halloween, when Red Duncan brought a pumpkin to the house, and a knife, and a fair amount of whisky.

The first slice in a pumpkin’s head is the worst. It’s like the eyes themselves have been slit open and the first thing they see is the slithering ooze of their own brain’s entrails swimming around behind their eyes. Then with a snap, Red pops out those eye holes and Crow is looking out, scared, into the sight of his own birth. Scarecrows don’t usually have hands, you may have noticed that, but they have the deepest craving for them. Red popped those eyeballs out and wiped Crow’s face with a dampened cloth, wiping away the sweat and the seeds that started running down those new cheeks. Red was a happy man that day, twisting the knife as Crow looked out, looking side to side and down as much as he could, for arms that could reach and hands that could grab. Red’s was enjoying his whisky, and gave Crow a belt about halfway through, as he was cutting a mouth that couldn’t decide whether it was laughing, crying, or snarling. In the background there was the sound of a chainsaw; Grey, Red’s cousin, was cutting wood for the coming winter months. In the kitchen, ma was lighting the woodstove and talking about pies. 

Crow listened, watched and waited for someone to give him a tongue, but no one did. With his nose, he smelled the woodsmoke and the piney air. Blue, Red’s brother, carried Crow’s head out to the field where the last of the corn lay fallow, and put him on top of the old broom stick in the petticoat that’s been there all summer, surrounded by crows laughing, stealing ears, rabbits snickering, stealing spinach, mice stealing grain, foxes stealing chickens.

Crow was born mad, put on this earth to scare nobody but man. That first fall and all through the winter, Crow watched. He watched the harvest moon, he watched the first frost, he sat up through the longest night, and he counted the stars night after night. A scarecrow with a broken heart needs arms, he said, needs legs, and needs a way to get on that sled on a cold winter night and leave. At the end of his first winter, he learned how to curse, and this put Bull’s Blood into a time of sorrow and need, until the day they gave him arms, legs, a hat, a pair of trousers, and a shirt. He waved goodbye as he rode away in a small wooden sleigh pulled by a sawhorse, over the horizon, to that next harvest moon.

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