Little Eddie was quickly going through the kitchen looking for some nuts, cereal, stale chips but wasn’t finding anything. Eddie at eleven expected as much. Since his mom had left them, Eddie’s dad was having a hard time knowing that a grocery list needed to be more than just beer and whiskey. Eddie just figured it would take his dad a long time to learn it. Eddie always took longer to learn new things than anyone else. He didn’t have a lot of friends because he was so slow at learning things. He just thought that his dad would take a long time learning to do mommy things.
Eddie missed his mother. She was so pretty and kind. She was very kind to her boy Eddie. She would always make sure to pick up bird seed for Eddie to feed to the crows. “I got snacks for you and your raven haired friends,” she would call as she was coming up from the drive with groceries.
Eddie tugged on his sleeves and pulled the ends to fit neatly between each finger. He always did this when he got nervous. He knew his dad would scream at him for stretching out the sleeves. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. He knew he had an hour and a half before his dad got home from work. He was starting to get a little frantic. He could feel sweat starting to dampen the space between his chest and his shirt.
He looked up past the kitchen toward the living room. He could see an opened, mostly empty beer bottle laying near his dad’s easy chair. Then his face brightened. He could feel his heart jump with joy at his discovery. It wasn’t the best thing to feed his friends but it was something. Eddie never wanted to see his dark, little friends go hungry. They brought such lovely gifts for him. He always made sure that they got food and water.
He ambled into the living room and furiously began gathering pieces of broken potato chips off the floor to deposit back into the bag in order to feed his friends. His favorite time of day was this time. It didn’t matter what the weather was. Eddie lived for this moment. They really were his only friends, now that his mom had left. He got more excited as he filled the chip bag back up.
He was so excited that he stumbled on his feet as he was getting up. That didn’t stop him. He ran through the kitchen and out the sliding glass door to the backyard. He was out on the porch before he knew it. His friends were beginning to gather. Their tiny gifts in either their claws or beaks, depending on the size and weight of each surprise for Eddie.
Eddie wouldn’t accept the gifts until after he had provided his guests with fresh water and something to eat. He was very orderly about how things went in this tiny urban backyard. The trees were saying goodbye to winter with tiny green buds peeking out the edge of branches. The weeds were just beginning to emerge in sporadic clumps about the dry, dirt landscape. The circle of bird droppings on the ground near the old, rustic, broken down wooden table Eddie used to put the food and water bowls for the birds on, reflected the light and warmth coming from the sun.
Eddie giggled as the crows began to touch down next to the bowl. The biggest of the group and Eddie’s favorite was the one Eddie called Iron Man. His favorite super hero. The extraordinarily large example of crow that Eddie called Iron Man was indeed formidable. He was just a tiny little juvenile a year ago. Eddie delighted in his transformation from bottom of the barrel to top of the heap. Eddie used to feed him first because he was so small. Now, Iron Man ate first because he fought for it. He used his beak and wings to beat back any challengers as he stretched forward to accept Eddie’s offering. The mashed up bits of chips did not go as far as he had wanted it. They only reached the middle of the small plastic dog bowl he found in the alley by his school. The chips were gone just as Eddie finished filling their water.
Eddie heard his dad’s car pull into the drive and he began to panic. He began to panic because his dad hated the crows. Eddie wasn’t allowed to use daddy’s words for the crows. He wouldn’t anyway because they were mean, hurtful words.
He was frozen with fear when he saw the silhouette of his father with a shotgun in the sliding glass door. His heart began to beat hard and fast against his chest. “No! Daddy, they’re my friends”
Before Eddie could speak another word a shot rang out. “Get outta here! Fucking birds! Go on, get! Filthy fucking vermin!” Feathers and the bodies of two of Eddie’s crow friends hit the ground with a thump. His father stumbling down the porch steps, running fiercely towards Eddie.
Iron Man quickly swooped down towards Eddie’s father and scratched his face with his claw. Eddie’s father touched his face and looked down at the blood on his hand. It enraged him and he began to swing the shotgun wildly trying to get a shot off at the crow that attacked him. Iron Man didn’t flinch but came at Eddie’s father again. This time missing the face and getting a piece of his shirt in his talons.
Iron Man drew blood once again. The other crows, sensing the tide turning began to follow the lead of the biggest crow and surrounded Eddie’s dad in a cloak of black feathers. Eddie could hear his father’s screams as he attempted to fight off the birds. Eddie just stood there frozen in fear and delight. He delighted at the idea of such small creatures being able to take on such a large and mean man. He was afraid his friends might turn on him but he was stuck in place. Even if he had wanted his dad to be saved from the birds’ attack, he was unable to move.
Eddie could hear his father‘s voice weaken as the crows kept up their attack. His father’s screams turned to pleas, then turned to grunts to breaths to nothing as the crows flew up off of the pile. Eddie’s father lay there on the dirty ground in a heap of blood and guts.
Iron Man flew gently to Eddie and laid his dad’s eyeball on the table in front of him. Iron Man then came to rest on his friend Eddie’s shoulder.