By Bill Turner All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Humor

Chapter Twenty Three

Griffin figured the toughest part of choosing an outfit for his big date would be trying to match a nice pair of slacks with the appropriate shirt. He hadn’t planned on having to take into account pockets filled with acorns or shirts recently adorned with bird poop epaulets. Some members of his new woodland fan club had found their way into his closet and had started setting up house.

He selected one of his favorite combinations, black jeans and slate blue mock suede button-down shirt. He thought it to be dressy, but not too dressy; comfortable, but not sloppy. Besides, it was one of the few shirts that were shit-free and didn’t clash with the purple stripe that traversed his forehead. The jeans had been folded and near the bottom of the stack so they were in good shape as well. One of his shoes had become a storage container for nuts and berries but that situation was easily remedied.

Griffin held the hangered shirt beneath his chin as he checked his look in the dresser mirror.

“Yeesh,” he groaned as he was once again reminded of his current forehead situation. He hung the shirt off of one of the dresser drawer knobs and leaned in for a closer look.

The bruise was still very purple. He expected that. What he hadn’t expected was the new greenish spots that bookended the stripe. There was another colorful manifestation happening at the bridge of his nose. It had turned yellow. Not the yellow of jaundice, but the vibrant yellow of something that cut much closer to the bone.

“Great!” Griffin huffed, exasperated. “It looks like I have a fucking beak!”

He gently prodded the area as he considered borrowing some cover-up from Hannah. The pain behind his eyes made them water.

“No make-up it is.”

Griffin checked the clock. He had a few hours to kill before picking up Jayne and Lil’ T. Getting dressed now left too much opportunity for a wardrobe mishap so he decided to deliver the case of wine before his shower and shave. He checked his reflection once more, sighed, shook his head and headed downstairs.

As soon as Griffin stepped through the door and onto the porch, he could hear them. The harsh, grating caws came from the branches that stretched over the patch of lawn between the house and the shed. Below them Lewis barked and paced frantically. He was dead set on protecting the seafood buffet the crows had come to savor.

They perched shoulder to shoulder and seemed to be discussing a plan of how to acquire this feast that lay just below them. The crow closest to the end of the branch launched upward, just enough to be clear of his compatriots, then snapped open his wings and dove at the fish just to the left of the guard dog. Lewis snapped at the mass of iridescent black feathers as it swooped past him, successfully blocking its attempt. With the ease of an acrobat it arced upward then returned to the branch completing the loop. Lewis shifted his weight from forepaw to forepaw, mirroring the crows as they shuffled on the branch. After a brief huddle with the first attacker, the crows prepared for their second attempt. Lewis scanned the flock searching for a clue as to who his next adversary might be. As if on the count of three, not one, but all of the crows nosedived at the beached pile of fish sending Lewis tumbling backward as he attempted to fend off the fowls at the front of the squadron. He, himself, resembled a fish wriggling at the end of a fishing line as he twisted and snapped at the winged scavengers that dive-bombed at him. There were just too many of them for one determined corgi to fend off.

“Good job, little man! You show them who the boss is!” Griffin cheered.

To be at Griffin’s side was far more appealing than guarding dead fish, so Lewis abandoned the mission in favor of a congratulatory pat on the head and a scratch of the chest. Griffin squatted to greet him and give him a vigorous rub.

“Who’s a good boy, huh?” Griffin baby talked. ”You wanna go for a ride?”

Griffin opened the passenger side door and motioned with a swing of his arm.

Lewis sprung forward but stopped abruptly after one hop. The scent of “not alive but not dead” smacked him in the nose.

“C’mon,” Griffin urged.

Lewis whimpered.

“It’s okay, boy.”

Lewis cautiously walked toward the door, ears back. He sniffed the bottom of the door panel and felt a little less anxious when he smelled the scent of that very loyal dog he smelled earlier. He reared back and bounded into the passenger’s seat. Griffin closed the door behind him. He reached through the open window and scratched the dog’s head.

“Silly dog. “he said, “What’s there to be afraid of?”

Lewis peered through the rear window as the El Camino circled the top of the driveway. He growled as he watched the crows feast on the aquatic carrion he tried so valiantly to protect. He shifted to the side window to continue watching them as the truck entered the roadway. “I’ll get you next time!” he barked as they drove away.

The crows picked at the fish until there was nothing left but skeletal remains. A couple of them that had had their fill flew up to the second story window that the tree branches and creeper vines were struggling so hard to reach. They perched on the sill and pecked at the screen. They wanted whatever was in that room as well.

The remaining members of the flock felt restless. They yearned for something. Their bellies were full yet they still wanted more. The last of the grape harvest didn’t interest them, nor did the ground squirrels that scurried around the yard. It wasn’t a hunger they felt. It could be best described as a desire, a conscious craving for affection.

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