Ol’ Sam

The sun rose over the cornfields, casting a soft golden glow over the man’s firm. He sat on the porch of his rundown house obviously needed a fresh coat of paint, rocking on a chair that obviously needed a drop of oil. The old dog at his feet could have been a shepherd dog in an earlier life was now speckled grey with bare paths on his ears. Sipping his morning whiskey with a dash of coffee, he noticed a disturbance in the distance, in the farthest eastern quadrant. Black ravens swarmed the area, dipping and diving, making a god-awful racket.

His first thought, he needed to change the stuffing of the Ol’ Samuel in that particular quadrant. All the scarecrows were named after which of his children had made it. There was his eldest, Jonah, the twins, Samuel and Delilah and his baby doll, Rosemary, but they had all gone away.  Last he was in that part of the field, he had noticed it looked a little flabby and flaccid on its pole. His second was too early to get moving. He usually woke up just before dawn, to watch the sun rise like he used to with his beloved wife. She died 12 years earlier ago and that was when the place and his family fell apart. But he didn’t start tilling the land till mid-morning, when the whiskey kicked in.

But the cawing was racking on his nerves, causing the pounding in his head to start up again. He put down his mug on the porch railings, got up and groaned as his old slipped disk started acting up again. He nudged the dog up with his feet, and picked up the rifle that was leaning against the screen door. Taking the rifle along was more out of habit than a precaution. No one in the town ever bothered him, or even talked to him, except that nice Mrs. Olsen who lived two farms down the road.

The old man pushed through the corn stalks, making way to the furthest eastern part of the field. As he drew closer, he noticed a rancid smell emanating from the direction he was heading. It got worse as he drew closer to where the rooks were gathering. Maybe an animal had wandered into his field and died, attracting the scavengers. But he drew closer still, approaching the scarecrow from the back, he saw that there was no carcass, or really anything else around the scarecrow.

The birds were turning on each other trying to perch themselves on the scarecrow. They were picking away at it, struggling for what looked like scraps of cloth. Gagging on the smell, he walked round to the front of the scarecrow, trying to avoid the ravens that scrambled up to Ol’ Sam’s shoulders and down again when dislodged by the crows. He saw they were picking at Sam’s face.

But it wasn’t like he had seen it that last week. Cocking up his rifle, he stepped forward and shot just above the scarecrow’s head, sending the crows scattering into the heavens. He peered under Sam’s hat, squinting against the morning sun in his eyes. He stepped back and retched his guts out for Ol’ Sam’s face, the face made by his son when he was 10 years old,  the face that was the guardian of the eastern field, looked…

It looked human.


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