Fiction

A Murder of Crows

By: Ken Kapp

Once upon a time, pre-COVID-19 time, there was a clever fox, a vain crow, and a piece of cheese. And if you’re thinking that was a long time ago, you’d be correct. In fact, in those days there were so few people they were able to go about with just first names. Of course, some of those names were strange, Aesop for example, but it didn’t matter. People then were kinder, more PC, and certainly wouldn’t go about name-shaming one another.

            Aesop worked for a weekly called “Early Times.” He was responsible for the animal/human-interest column in addition to his duties covering crime. Occasionally, the two overlapped as when the fox tricked the crow and ran off with the cheese. The crow claimed she was robbed but there were no witnesses – really, no one would want to stay around to listen to a crow sing – and the evidence, viz the cheese, was not to be found. The police dismissed the complaint and never brought the fox in for questioning. There were some who said the police were prejudiced since the crow, after all, was black but that would have been a matter for an investigative reporter and not Aesop.

            He did his best to write up the story, but it was like it was. The fox was smart and the crow was vain and that was that. However, the incident was indelibly inscribed in the genetic makeup of all the succeeding generations of crows. It lodged in their throats, stuck in their gullets, and accounts for their raucous cawing demanding justice and equal rights. Thus, it was only a matter of time until they evened things up with the fox. Unfortunately, by that time Aesop was long gone and people needed two, three, or even four names.

            Which brings us to the present day where this time it’s the fox we find with food in his mouth – a large piece of meat only a little green around the edges – strutting around a small hillock in the middle of a field.

            The crow serving as lookout aimed its beak at the sun and signaled, two shorts and a long – caw, caw, cawwww – flew high about the treetops, and repeated: – caw, caw, cawwww. Two more crows promptly appeared and settled on the ground just out of striking distance of the fox.

            One pecked the other. “Did you ever see such a magnificent piece of meat?”

            The other answered. “No, the green around the edges says that it’s prime.”

            Three more crows alighted alongside on the grass, joining the conversation. “Why this fox must be very brave to have attacked an animal that was large enough to have so much meat on its bones.”

            “Oh, I bet he had help. Probably a pack of his large wolf cousins did the dirty work and he snuck in when they weren’t looking and pulled the piece away.”

            “You think?”

            “Oh, yeah, otherwise he’d be telling us how brave he was and how he took on this beast three, four times his size.”

            The fox was thinking, now’s the time to really impress these dumb birds. He wasn’t going to tell them how he found the meat in a dumpster behind the butcher’s. He puffed out his chest, dropped the meat between his paws and began to explain how he had tracked this vicious-looking beast for days.

            More crows arrived and took up positions farther away, indicating with their heads moving one way and the other that they couldn’t hear.

            The fox was forced to stand so that his voice would carry over the distance. Then suddenly the crows all pecked at the ground in front of them. The fox thought they had found something and started forward.

            But the pecking was actually a signal for two of the bravest, who had been stealthily sneaking up behind the fox, to pounce on the meat. They came in from both sides, grabbed the meat in their beaks and exited in tandem fox-right. The other crows all laughed – caw-caw, CAW-CAW – and flew off to share in the spoils.

            The fox, realizing too late that the crows had tricked him, turned red with frustration – although one couldn’t tell since he was a natural redhead – and fumed, thinking about how he would murder them. Aesop, had he been there, would have titled his story “The murder of crows,” giving them their collective name.

. . .

.****

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Moral: if you’re foxy, it’s best not to crow about it.

Categories: Fiction

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