Monday, January 21, 2008

Chapter 3: Reason #2

As Simon grew, the stress of his family life caused him to develop nervous ticks. He would blink and blink and hunch his shoulders, raising them up to his ears. When he did this it almost looked as though he didn’t have a neck. It almost looked as though he were evolving into what his parents always said he was, a crow’s boy.

Simon’s cry sounded so like the “caw-caw” of a crow that his mother would scold or ignore him whenever he made the sound. It sent shivers up her spine to hear it. Soon Simon learned to believe that he was better off making no sounds at all. No fussing, no crying, no bumbling baby words. Simon, would just look through his silent black eyes, blinking and hunching his shoulders.

Make no mistake, Mrs. Loomin loved her little boy. There was a warm fuzzy place in her heart that ached for him. But Mrs. Loomin could not let him into that warm fuzzy part of her heart because it was barred by her fear of the crows. Every time she thought of Simon she thought of the empty fields, the empty cabinets, the empty warm fuzzy spot in her heart, and she was hurt and angry.

When Simon could walk, Mr. and Mrs. Loomin would let him wander freely about their property. Simon loved to practice his toddling steps out in the open empty fields. The crows watched him. He did not scream at them. He did not swing around wet laundry. He did not try to shoot them with a gun. The crows liked Simon. At first they just watched him. After all, he was a human. He did not look like a crow to them. They could see that he had the soft exposed skin, the long arms and fingers that could be found on boys and girls and that were always absent from the bodies of birds.

As they grew more comfortable with Simon, the crows would follow him. Landing lightly on the ground behind him and lifting themselves into the air with their broad black wings whenever he’d turn around. Soon though, they would let him look at them and walk closer. Eventually the crows and Simon came to be friends. The little boy would play hide and seek, and tag and sit and have silent chats with his crow friends. People began to notice the strange boy with his flock of feathered friends. People began to talk amongst themselves, at first in whispers, growing more bold. People called him “Crow Boy.” Mr. and Mrs. Loomin, when they heard this nickname, did not argue or defend their son. No, they only nodded, as if they’d known it all along.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chapter Two: Reason #1

To understand Simon’s reasoning it will help to know a little of his past.

Simon was the first born child of Mr. George and Mrs. Celia Loomin. The Loomins lived on an old farm out in the hills of eastern Kentucky. Mr. and Mrs. Loomin were a poor couple. They were poor because they could not grow corn.

You see, if you go back a bit in history—before Sheila saw “Crow Boy” on the mountain, before Mr. and Mrs. Loomin gave him his name, before Mr. and Mrs. Loomin were even born—Great-great-great-great Grandfather Loomin stepped onto a piece of land and shouted to the empty space around him, shaking his fist in the air;

“On this land corn will grow!”

That is how the Loomin farm began. It has been a corn growing farm ever since.

But Mr. George and Mrs. Celia Loomin could not grow corn. They blamed it on the crows. The fact is crows had lived on this farm as long as any Loomin and corn had always grown before. This fact did not matter to Mr. Loomin. He insisted, “It’s them crows makin’ us poor, Mrs. Loomin, or my name is Prince Charmin’!”

Well, Mrs. Celia knew her husband was not Prince Charming, so she too began to blame the crows. When she saw them, perched on her clothesline, staring black eyes and dark iridescent wings, she shivered.

“It’s all your fault,” she would yell, swinging at them with handfuls of wet laundry, “it’s all your fault!”

The night when Simon was born his father said to his mother,

“Mrs. Loomin, thems stolen this from us too. Thems blasted crows.”

“What could he mean?” Mrs. Loomin wondered out loud.

The midwife timidly placed the baby boy in his mother’s arms. Mrs. Loomin looked at her baby. She said nothing. The baby, Simon, began to cry. Mrs. Loomin looked at her baby. She said nothing. One of Simon’s little hands with curled finger tips reached out from his blanket. Mrs. Loomin looked at her baby. She saw in him the crows that perched on her clothesline. Mrs. Loomin spoke,

“It’s all your fault. It’s all your fault.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sheila the Wonder Dog and Crow Boy: Chap. 1

Chapter One: Camping

Sheila was black and tan with pointy ears and blue eyes. She was very young, only five months old (that’s about four in human years). Sheila didn’t know what it meant to be a wonder dog. She knew that she liked to chew on rocks. She knew that she liked her humans to take walks with her. She knew that she liked to have her belly scratched. One weekend Sheila learned of more things that she liked. These things were camping, climbing mountains, and flying.

When Sheila was a new born puppy she had lost her family. This was before she had her name, before humans had found her. The other animals called her “Blues” in those days, because of her bright eyes and sad heart. Sleeping outside was nothing new to Sheila. She’d made a home of bushes and meals of garbage that people had carelessly thrown from their cars. The garbage made her feel quite ill.

Camping was very different from those cold lonely nights sleeping on scratchy ground with a sick belly. At camp, her human gave her a delicious bowl of food and plenty of fresh water. She even had her own sleeping bag to snuggle into when the sun slipped behind the mountains. Those mountains. That was the best part of camping. That is where the adventure began.

The first day the humans loaded a pack with water bottles, cameras and sweatshirts. Sheila followed them all over camp, wondering where they were going; hoping she could go too. Finally, one bent over, rubbed her ears and said,

“You ready to go hiking Sheila?”

“Yes!” Sheila barked, jumping around in excitement.

Climbing the mountain was tough work for the puppy. There were steep, dusty trails. There were also delicious rocks and strange exciting animals – little tiny ones that scurried into the crevices of rocks and ones so big that humans could sit on their backs as they walked down the trail. The paths were lined with leafy trees that the sun shone through creating lacy shadows across the ground. There were parts with maroon leaves that had fallen from their branches and lay over the earth like carpet.

Sheila was amazed by everything. Most amazing was when she looked up and saw through the trees to the top of the mountain. There, bare white rocks stood out against the cloudless blue sky. Near the edge of one of those huge rocks was a dark figure. Even though the cliffs were still very far, Sheila’s keen eyes could see this figure was a human. She wondered if the humans that walked on top of mountains were the same as hers who she’d only seen living on low ground.

The human standing near the edge was a 12-year-old boy, “Crow Boy.” His real name was Simon. Simon was born with thick, jet black hair that lay smooth against his scalp like feathers. His eyes too were black, and beady. He had a sharp nose and his fingers and toes curled, ever so slightly, at the tips.

Simon stood at the edge of the white rocks that wrapped around the mountain top. He thought, “Perhaps I am more crow than human. Perhaps I can be like a crow in one more way.”

Simon thought this way for two reasons:

Reason #1: He believed crows were responsible for his birth.
Reason #2: He believed he acted more like a crow all the time.