Crows by BloodySpaghetti
Corvus Brachyrhychos or the American Crow has fascinated me for many years now. It is a magnificent bird; they’re highly intelligent and adaptive, I also like their appearance. For centuries now, people revered the taxonomic crow family, some cultures have also feared it; I guess it’s all because the members of this family have no problem eating corpses of various kinds. Speaking of which, one such lovely bird is sitting on my porch as I’m writing this. I’ve named him Zain, after my best friend. Zain used to love these birds too.
I grew up in a strictly catholic family, my folks may have been a pain in the ass when it came to the belief in God but they were good parents nonetheless, I had pretty much anything I could wish for as long as I ate my vitamins, got good grades at school and said my prayers. I’m originally from Maine but when I was eleven, we had to move to the south. My father inherited a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Texas so we moved there. As a kid I was somewhat disappointed there were no cowboys in Texas but my disappointment was washed away when I met a clique of kids my age, the four fellows had similar upbringing to mine so we had a bunch of things in common. The clique consisted of RR Roy Reznik, Teddy Jackson, and “Red” Trevor Jagodicz who got his nickname for being a hot-tempered ginger kid and there was Mikey Philips. RR was the so-called leader of said group, showing off his golden crucifix as if it’s some novelty jewelry and always wearing a cap on his head, I was greeted by the four kids who were on their way to a game of soccer. Me being the new kid in town, I asked if I could join and Roy told me that if the Lord had put me in their way, it probably meant I am destined to be related to them somehow. In other words, he gave me a religious mambo-jumbo of a positive answer. Judging by the deeply religious answer I should’ve been alarmed by this kid, I mean he was just a kid, fate and Gods shouldn’t be so deeply enchanted into his mind, but what did I know – I was a kid just like him.
Fast forward one ball game, and the five of us became best friends; we did everything together from going to school together and doing all of our school work in a group, to spending the afternoons and evenings doing some group activity, usually mixed with some religious crap like praying or spending time at the local church. It was a lovely time I must admit but looking at it now, I guess I was only around them this much because I did not know anyone else back then.
Two years after moving to Texas, a new kid showed up in town, at first he spoke to nobody and nobody seemed interested in him. I did however notice that he would frequently just sit and stare at birds whenever he could, so me being me I decided to approach him and perhaps make a new friend.
“Hey there” I said
“Hiya” the kid answered to me, not breaking his sight from the birds walking around in front of us.
“So, what are you doing here looking at birds like that?” I asked him
His answer was more intriguing than anything I had heard prior, “I’m kind of jealous of them, they can fly and all… I guess I want to study how all of that works for them when I’m older. By the way, my name’s Zain.”
The kid extended his arm to me while I stood there dumb folded at what he had said to me a second prior, I stared at him confused for a few moments, I guess it make him laugh and his laughter snapped me out of my confusion, I shook his hand and answered, “Alex… and wow, you sound really cool”
He chuckled again and asked, “Why, because I’m interested in the crows?”
“Yeah, the local boys only care about soccer, football, church and cars, but you; you like something else… hehehe, that’s cool!”
You can imagine where the conversation spiraled from there on, soon enough we virtually became best friends, he was my first and only best friend, and not in the sense of a really close friend like a select few, no no, he was the best friend. Like a literal brother from another mother. Soon enough I learned that he spoke a “weird language” (Arabic) at home with his parents and that he was a Syrian immigrant from Aleppo. I also found out that he is in fact a Muslim child, at first I thought it’s weird he and his father pray five times a day but soon I came to accept it as their culture.
With my bonding with Zain, I grew distant from my original clique, I suppose they did not like it at first but once they found out my best friend wasn’t even a white Christian boy, in spite of the fact I’m probably darker than him, they were livid. Again, I should’ve seen the signs on the wall and tell some adult or something but instead I just ignored the guys’ destructive behavior.
I regret this to this day, on one uneventful afternoon while my pal and I were looking around for birds to stare at, we came down to this old empty field. It had high grass and trees surrounding it from every side. We got to have a nice time and saw a shit ton of crows, back then I had no idea a flock of crows is named “Murder” so when Zain told me that’s how they call it I almost lost my shit then and there. On our way out of the field, we came across my former clique.
RR stood in Zain’s face and said, “So, you don’t believe in Jesus huh?”
Zain as was his habit and said, “I do believe Isah, Jesus that is, was a very important prophet in our history”
“Reznik, what do you want from us?” I asked slightly angered at Roy’s actions.
“Not ‘us’ just him…” said Teddy as he stands before me and places his hands on my shoulders.
Trevor giggled and said, “Yeah, we only care about what the heathen pig has to say now, Alex”
Zain dropped his smile and started walking, knocking his shoulder into Roy’s who stood there with his face down for a moment before pulling out something from his pocket – a telescopic bat. He then pulled Zain by the collar and hit him with the metallic bet; I tried screaming for my friend to watch out but just as the words came out of my mouth, I felt a sharp pain surge in my stomach.
“No defending filthy heathens!” I heard Mikey scream.
The next thing I know I am laying on the ground and I’m getting beaten to a pulp by two of my former friends. I swear every bit of my body hurt at that moment, everything hurt even places I did not think could hurt – imagine hearing your bones crack, I heard that a few times during the beating I received there. It is scary as hell, I’m rather unsettled by it now, as an adult, back then It was probably the scariest thing ever. Hearing Zain’s screams of agony did not make it any better. My suffering was cut short by a lucky blow to the head.
One shot and everything went quiet and peaceful.
I woke up in a hospital bed, not remembering how I got there or the past two weeks for that matter, I was told that I was involved in a car accident and that I was lucky to be alive. My friend, not so much… imagine what it does to a thirteen year old kid that gets told his best friend was killed, by a car… and even though the kid was there he can’t remember jack about it.
I had suffered an apparent form of temporary amnesia because of my head injuries; on top of that, there were a few broken bones, mostly ribs. I had a punctured lung and my liver had been injured as well. A compressed skull fracture was what worried everyone the most. It is somewhat funny because I also suffered a severely compressed radical nerve injury in my right arm. I was told I might not be able to use that arm again, and look at me now… kickboxing.
Anyhow, I did not remember shit and I had been sent back to Maine to live with my grandparents to get the proper medical treatment, and hell it was a long and grueling road to recovery, took me almost three years to completely heal up from my injuries. That is the physical injuries, the mental ones; I doubt they would ever go away. You see, around a year after the beat down I began having these nightmares about being on grassy ground and beating beaten up by shadowy figures. At first, I thought these were random nightmares but soon enough they would get clearer and far more frequent than usual night terrors, on top of that, I would also black out during the day here and there to experience these flashes of memory. They were excessively random for me to figure out. They would also come and go so quickly that no one else probably ever noticed me blacking out more than anyone else would. I was having a pretty normal life while recuperating and it’s Important to know that along with the excessive exposure to advanced medicine comes skepticism which eventually leads to the abandonment of faith in the supernatural, and God.
Eventually I’ve decided I should pay my parents a visit, and so I did, I went back to that wretched town and I saw my parents and they were happy to see me doing fine. One day while I was staying there however, I once again was caught up with the crows; I was lying on the roof of my parents’ house when suddenly the birds became restless. It was random, there was no change of wind, no bad weather nor were there any animals in the area that could have disturbed the birds but they just started flying in circles and making a lot of voice. For whatever reason, I called out to the crows and one landed on the rooftop, not far from me and started walking in my direction. Once it reached me I stretched out my arm and it jumped on it. I am probably a mad man for admitting this but I asked the freaking bird, “Hey buddy? What’s wrong?” I guess in response the bird just hopped off my hand and walked a few steps forward, I rose up and asked the bird again, “What are you trying to do? Do you want me to follow you or something?” the bird called out and flew away. I decided to follow its flight path and I ended up following the whole murder of crows above me.
The crows led me to near a local bar, once there they occupied the rooftops and electricity lines. I was about to speak to the birds again but then I heard a familiar voice, “Dude, it’s been six years since we’ve killed that Zain guy”
My heart sank to my socks, all this time I was sure that my best friend had died in a car crash and now I hear that he was killed, I had to know what was going on so I listened closely from the corner I was standing at and I heard another voice yell “It was a fucking accident… I didn’t want this fucker dead I wanted him to know his place!”
“Chill out, Double R, we’re in a public place” another voice called.
By that point I felt like my ribcage was being snapped, rib by rib. I felt like my heartbeat was so high I am about to explode from the inside out. All the pain from that day hit me at once. The pain and the memories, everything simply came back in a single blow. The agony was so bad I felt as if I was drunk and I began laughing to myself, quietly… the laughter soon became muffled tears. My fucking best friend was killed, for no fucking reason, for believing in their god through a different doctrine. I wanted to break down and then walk out and simply beat these people to death with my bare knuckles. Fortunately for me, I was able to hear what they were saying.
Trevor, who’s voice didn’t change much after puberty him, I could clearly hear him say, “I’m still having nightmares, man, I see his face, begging me to stop, but I just see myself beating the shit out of him and I see myself enjoying it in my dreams. The worst part man is that his head suddenly turns to me, like the watching me, with that battered and bloodied face of his and begs me to end it… I’m man… I can’t…”
A forth voice called out, “Trevor, chill, Father Devanport said God forgives everything eventually”
Roy Reznik responded to the previous talker, “Fuck forgiveness, he is punishing us… don’t you see it? We’re all having these nightmares, these voices, that fucking terror. That’s our payment for doing something we shouldn’t have done.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle over the fact that they had attributed the emotional trauma they underwent as children over murdering someone to a divine. What I had to do was not to hurt them, physically at least, all I needed was way to get a confession out of them that is all.
I walked back to my parents’ home and started planning how I am going to force a confession out of them without actually forcing it, it took me three days to set up the whole thing. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Khalili hates me right now for what she is probably taking as mad rumbling about the reason of her dear son’s death, but nonetheless, you’d be surprised what you can do with a bit of wood, a lighter, some rope and a few sleeping pills.
Three days after finding out that Zain Khalili, my best friend, was actually murdered I “accidently” ran into Michael Philips and invited him and the rest of the clique for a few drinks for the sake of old times. They bought into that or simply tried to avoid detection, and whilst my parents were gone from home, I gave the guys a few magic pills to put them to sleep. Once the guys were sound asleep I loaded them into my car and drove them to the same field where they butchered a kid over a different religion than theirs. I sat them all down in a circle around a large wooden cross I had installed in the field and waited with my face covered by a Kaffiyah. Once they were starting to show signs of waking up I lit up the wooden cross and once the heat had awoken them, I let them panic a bit before revealing myself to them.
All four of them were yelling slurs and threats at me until I removed the headdress, at that moment they’ve all gone silent. I turned on the audio recorder I had in my pocket and said, calmly, “Look at your god burn… I am killing your almighty god now! What will you do now without him?”
All I got was a blank and hardly auditable, “Why, Alex?” from Teddy.
“To avoid any divine interventions, Theodore” I answered
“Look, I do not know what you want, Alex, but we didn’t do anything…” said Roy
I crouched down to his height and yanked off his crucifix, “Oh but of course you did something, Double R…” I said, before throwing his golden crucifix into the pyre I had started.
He tried lunging at me and yelled in my face, “What the fuck do you want, you god damned son of a bitch?”
“I want you to tell me the truth about what happened here six years ago, why is Zain dead?” I asked him
He yelled at me in a desperate tone, “I don’t know… man… I heard it was a car… someone ran you both over, they found you lying half-dead on the road not far from here… I swear I have no fucking clue who had done this”
At this point a bunch of crows were ganging up on the trees around the field, as if they were waiting to see what is going to happen next, as if they were waiting to avenge Zain like I was.
I looked up at the crows and then back at Roy Reznik who was about to piss himself, “You know Roy, crows are omnivores and whenever they feel like scavenging they will sit near a site they presume would be filled with corpses, and right now there are many crows here… listen…”
“We don’t know what happened, man, what you want us to do?” cried out Trevor.
I turned to face him and said, coldly, “To piss yourselves and pray to your impotent god that these birds aren’t as hungry as I think they are, otherwise they’re going to peck your guts out while you still breath.”
I stood up and leaned against a tree, and took my time waiting.
They begged, they bitched, they moaned and they cussed, but I did not budge I wanted them to admit that they had murdered my best friend, I had all the time in the world, and so did the crows. I’m not really sure how much time passed but the cross was halfway burned and then all of the sudden, after everything in the area had gone quiet, Michael yelled out, “Okay! Okay! We did it! We killed your fucking Muslim friend, we did not mean to, dude, it just happened... now please let us go… please…”
I pulled out a knife from my pocket and threw it at the pyre; the looks on their faces were priceless, I’ve never seen such a perfect blend of fear and shock on a human face before. I smiled widely and told them, “You’re bound to have scars if you survive a murder attempt, did you guys know that a flock of crows is called a murder too? What a coincidence.”
I started walking away into the woods when I heard a blood curdling scream coming from behind me, one of them must’ve pulled out the knife...I’m going to relay this audio recorder to local police and I don’t really care if I have to face charges or whatever, Zain’s been avenged finally, that is all that matters.
There is one thing I have yet to grasp though, how did the crows know about all of this?