CROW’S FEET IN THE SNOW • by Deven D Atkinson

The deputy said the snow where Uncle Jake had broken his neck is interesting. Over by Harper’s cabin a jay is harping and there are flashing red and blue LED lights on top of all of the sheriff cars and trucks just like Christmas. If you squint just right the LED lights are magenta. That’s a computer word for bright purple. I found that out when I squinted to keep the tiny snowflakes from stinging my eyes.

Miss Abernathy my favorite teacher from when I was in school told me about computer stuff like LED lights.

Look at the detail the deputy said. If we could cast this it might help. I accidentally caught a robin with a fishhook last summer when I was practice casting in the backyard. I got the hook out without much blood. It just sat there with its beak open gasping for air even after I let hold of it. Isbeth told me the robin must have been scared and it was lucky it didn’t die of a heart attack from being scared. She is my favorite cousin. Uncle Jake took to shooting robins with Grandpa Herman’s Walther P38 pistol that got surrendered to him. When I was burying them I found the one with the fishhook scar.

The deputy asked if those are crow’s feet in the snow. I didn’t see any crow feet over by where Uncle Jake is laying in the snow. I do remember some sparrow footprints but they are tiny. Sparrows mostly hop like a robin. Crows walk and their footprints are bigger than Yellow Tom’s footprints. I’ve never seen Yellow Tom eat crow but he sure does like sparrow. I saw him cleaning his ears and hiding under the broken 2002 Jeep Liberty earlier. Under the broken 2002 Jeep Liberty is Yellow Tom’s favorite place now. Aunt Yvonne used to let him nap by the wood-stove inside the house.

Such a detailed face the deputy said. Look at that mole. I wanted to go over and look but Isbeth still held my hand. You don’t normally see moles in the winter time. Except for the one that Yellow Tom dug up that lived in the dirt under the porch last week. Uncle Jake shot holes in the broken 2002 Jeep Liberty the same day he shot the robins and broke it. Isbeth had bought it herself to get to work and back and to the store and back. Now we have to walk. Moles don’t walk much, they dig. I only saw its feet in the snow cause I guess Yellow Tom don’t like the taste of mole feet just like he don’t like the taste of sparrow feet. The EMT lady tending Isbeth here on the porch says it is getting colder. I can see my breath in the air.

A state patrol man climbed the porch steps. I know he’s a state patrol man cause he has a hat like Smokey The Bear. He wants to know where I was when Isbeth was hurt. So I tell him that Uncle Jake locked me out of the house and I was over by the broken 2002 Jeep Liberty looking for Yellow Tom. He asks if I saw Isbeth being hurt and I tell him No Sir. When I was in school Miss Abernathy taught me how to be polite. Her name is Mrs. Nestor now. He asks did I hear anything.

So I tell him about Isbeth yelling for help and he asks me if that was when I broke down the door. Isbeth squeezes my hand and tells me it is okay when I ask the state patrol man if he is going to arrest me for Breaking and Entering.

The deputy poured green goop into the snow where Uncle Jake fell down.

The state patrol man asks what Jake did to Isbeth. I tell him that Uncle Jake made her bleed and cause he did I told him I was going to tell Miss Abernathy on him but not Aunt Yvonne cause she drowned in the tub last June. I tell the state patrol man that Miss Abernathy changed her name to Mrs. Nestor cause she likes Mr. Nestor the dog catcher and that he drives a bright red 2013 Ford F-150 Dog Pound Pickup Truck. He also picks up dead skunks on the road. I tell him Uncle Jake got real mad at me and chased me out of the house. I showed the state patrol man where I skinned my elbow when I tripped by the firewood pile. He told me I’d been brave and walked away.

The deputy peeled a face made of hard green goop from the hole in the snow where Uncle Jake’s head fell. I told him I was sorry for stepping on his head cause I couldn’t stop running fast enough. When I rolled him over he just closed his eyes and went to sleep like he does on the couch after he drinks 24 cans of beer.

The deputy said the face looked just like Uncle Jake being scared. I want to tell the state patrol man about me maybe scaring Uncle Jake from chasing him with the wood ax but the EMT lady grabs my arm and says no. I ask if Mr. Nestor is going to put Uncle Jake in the back of his bright red 2013 Ford F-150 Dog Pound Pickup Truck with the dead skunks. Isbeth laughs and so I tell her about the jay harping at Harper’s cabin and she laughs again. Isbeth gives me a big hug and tells me she has to go to the hospital and asks the EMT lady if I can go with her.

The deputy showed the green scared face to the state patrol man and said look at those crow’s feet in the snow. I look as we walk past and I still only see sparrow footprints. And mine.

Deven D Atkinson is a computer programmer living in rural Southern Ohio.

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