When I was 11, my dad ran over four turkeys. One died. Two were maimed. One clucked off, unscathed.
Dad didn't look back. He just shrugged and smirked. There's never any traffic there.
I saw the one, clucking down the shoulder. Later on I asked Dad what he thought of the one that didn't get hurt.
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," he spit with a huckered unfurling of his mucus cavity.
The next morning, really early because I couldn't sleep, I went out.
Dad was gone. Working, I imagine.
Mama was sleeping. She stayed up late, I'm sure.
I kissed Amber on the forehead. She gets warm when she sleeps. Been like that since we were little.
Felt like I'd just kissed her when I was halfway through the woods. It's a good quarter-mile jog to the other end of 'em. But I move fast.
Specially when I got purpose.
It opens up, like it do, and I looked out. You can see everything out there on mornings when the season is changing. Poop from chocolate milkshakes to tar icicles.
And at this time of year, birds. Every kind of bird, we got them all.
This is commuter season for nature's airplanes.
I walk right up on 'em. It's gotta be the biggest swarm of turkeys between me and Canada. They hardly move. Shit-for-brains just sit there.
So I move through 'em. Easily. Cause I got purpose.
I look for the one. May find him. I may not.
I'll know those spots, though. In 7th grade I did a book report on turkeys. Different kinds. What that means in the way they live, where they like to stay, and so on.
I prolly had a close eye on turkeys since I was 4. I 'member the first time I saw one slaughtered. For BLTs with white cheese. I can still hear that stupid son of a bitch popping in the Lodge cast-iron skillet my granddaddy flipped up right away when he took it out his truck, and slapped it down on those metal grates.
I know turkeys. And I know how to watch for the one I want.
He ain't here. Not today.
I'll wait. It's what I do.
This isn't passion. It's not excess.
They aren't victims. They aren't deserving.
They're just the backup singers in my orchestra. I don't like acoustic guitars or MTV Unplugged.
I like plump cheeks that explode like pierogies microwaved 30 seconds past their due.
I sit and wait. Sometimes I do this because I'm asked to. Other times it's other reasons.
Don't ask no questions. Nothing to see here.
Yesterday I was witness to a circumstance which made me feel needed. I so rarely feel that way.
It's lonely out here. But it's clean. And there's a hierarchy. It must be respected.
If things are allowed to get out of order, then we must restore it.
Otherwise things forget to work. This was supposed to happen yesterday. It didn't. It's okay.
The important thing is to stay calm.
Otherwise things get messy.
Move calmly and, if you drive to Milwaukee for work, carry a big stick for tinted windows and don't forget your pipe if you happen upon a fireside chat with an old friend.
I love old friends almost as much as news ones. Of course, the way my job goes, I end up with more news friends than new ones. But that's okay.
Keeps the fire going.
Friends are eager to swap recipes. Especially when it's something new. And if you cook, friends usually wanna try it. Specially if it's something you caught yourself.
Like Brunswick stew with turkey that, you should be forward in warning your guests, has an assertive gamey-ness.
Almost medicinal. But organic.
People love organic products. Especially wild-caught and hormone-free.
"Oh those? Those are meatballs," I tell 'em.
And please: no tips.