Talking Turkey

“You sure you saw that turkey run into the garden?”  Groover glanced at his companion as he tugged on the leather sling he grasped.

That seemed like a fair question considering that Squinto, a boy around Groover’s age, was probably the most nearsighted Wampanoag in his tribe.  They’d known each other for enough months to pick up on each other’s languages and communicate satisfactorily.

Squinto nodded as he pointed, rock in hand, toward the outer garden where Groover and the other pilgrims first learned how to plant corn, beans, and pumpkins in this new land.  “He must have gone there to hide.”

Hiding wouldn’t be too difficult.  The harvest was generous enough that Governor Bradford called for a feast to be shared with the local natives who taught the colonists how to foster the growth of those crops.  Many dry cornstalks were still veiled with bean vines, and remains of squash plants snaked over the grounds.

But feasts also needed plenty of meat.  Groover and Squinto weren’t quite big enough to go hunting with the men, but when they spied a turkey scampering along the edge of the woods this morning, they decided to make a contribution to the upcoming celebration.

“Let’s look for him.”  Groover stepped toward the garden.

Squinto accompanied him into the tattered crops that crackled as they pushed into the plot.  Sometimes they stopped to listen for their quarry moving about, but the turkey must have found a darn good hiding place that it refused to leave.

Then Squinto tripped.

Colorful feathers and leaves swirled in the air as the large bird leaped up from below him.  Groover was too close to sling a rock at it, but he was also close enough to snatch it by one leg.  He raised his other arm to protect himself from being bludgeoned by the flapping wings.

Squinto jumped toward them and grabbed the turkey’s wings to pin them down to its sides.

“No!  No!  You don’t want to gobble me up, you little nincompoops!”

The two lads stared at each other as they maintained their grips.  The turkey could talk?

Squinto blurted, “He speaks my language!”

“No.”  Groover frowned.  “He spoke my language.”

“Neither!”  The bird squawked again.  “I speak Fowl Language, which everybody understands.”

Squinto’s eyes widened, which he didn’t do very often.  “We might have caught the chief turkey!”

“Which means you must let me go!”  The feathered captive struggled and kicked, prompting Groover to grab its other leg as Squinto wrapped an arm around it.  “If you do not release me, I will cause blight upon your crops!”

“Too late.”  Although Groover was no longer inclined to eat it, there was no way he would give up showing a prize like this to everybody else.  “We’ve already harvested them.”

“I mean next year, you dolt!”

Squinto’s eyes narrowed again.  “Maybe we should heed him.  Offending the animal spirits can bring calamity.”

“Animal spirits?”  Groover stared at him with more intensity.  “Like a poultrygeist?”

“I haven’t heard of this one specifically, but he might lead all the turkeys and have special powers, like affecting the gardens.”

Groover appreciated the friendship he’d been able to cultivate with Squinto, but that explanation only made keeping their prisoner more desirable.  “We’ve got to take him back.  We could, I dunno, have the other kids give us candy to see him or something like that.”

The turkey craned its neck to glare back at him.  “Hey, dingbat, I’d tell you to stuff it if I didn’t think that would give you the wrong idea.”

Squinto tilted his head.  “Do you really want to keep this jerk around?”

The bird’s attention shot to him.  “I’ll give you a jerk you’ll never forget.”

Hmm, Squinto might have a point.  But if they released the turkey, it seemed they should be rewarded with more than simply not getting the crops blighted.

“We’ll make a deal with you.”  Groover grasped its legs more firmly.  “Grant each of us a wish, and we’ll let you go.”

“What do I look like?” their captive screeched.  “A bloody genie in a bottle?  Of all the imbeciles in the world, I had to end up with the two that have the most wind blowing between their ears.”

“Then what are you willing to trade for your freedom?”

“Oh, for the love of – fine, I just want to get your grubby hands off me.  Let me go, and I’ll tell you the secret of how we turkeys can help double your crop production.”

Squinto shook his head.  “If we let you go first, you will fly away without showing us.”

“Are you calling me a liar, lamebrain?”

Squinto shrugged before he replied, “Yes.”

“That so?  Then what reason do I have to believe the two of you will let me go after I tell you?”

“Because I don’t want to keep a scoundrel like you around.”

Their prisoner’s head twitched back and forth for a few seconds and then he said, “Okie-doke, I can actually see some logic there.  In that case, the first thing you have to do is get lots of turkeys to gather around your garden.”

This encounter was only getting stranger.  “And how are we supposed to do that?”

“Turkeys are curious.  You have to offer them something that they haven’t seen before.”

Squinto frowned.  “Like what?”

“A new dance.”

Groover resisted the temptation to squeeze his legs harder.  “You’re putting us on.”

“No, I’m trying to get you off me.  Turkeys are always on the lookout for new moves.  Put me down so you can show me if you’ve got the steps that will make them flock in.”

Squinto pursed his lips.  “Not unless you can promise to not fly away before we show you.”

“I promise.  If I take off before you show me your new turkey trot, may all my feathers fall out.”

“That would really happen?”  Groover squinted this time.

“You’re not from around these parts, are you?  I put a taboo on myself, hayseed, so if my feathers fall off, I’ll be one cold turkey.”

“It could be a potent taboo.”  Squinto nodded.  “He also doesn’t want us to see his dressing, because that would make him blush.”

Neither of them was making much sense, but since Groover had never met a magic turkey before, he was just going to have to follow along.  “Okay, then, we’ll set him down.”

They squatted slightly as Groover set its feet on the ground and Squinto removed his arm from its silvery body.  As the turkey shook itself, its golden tail feathers spread out.

“That’s funny.”  Groover glanced at his friend.  “Now that I’ve got a good look at him, I can see he’s not exactly like the other turkeys.”

Squinto leaned a little closer to the bird.  “He’s a Narragansett.”

“That’s better.”  The turkey looked up at them.  “Now, since I’ve got the drumsticks, do you want me to keep rhythm while you show me your dance?  Or will you just wing it?”

Groover didn’t know much about native dancing.  He looked at Squinto, who pursed his lips before responding.

“Your tribe has probably never seen how Groover’s people dance.  Let’s try that first.”  He looked at his companion.  “You can show me how.”

Well, that might help him feel a little more comfortable, but they still needed some kind of music.  A tune sprang to mind, and Groover started humming Turkey in the Straw.  He started to skip around the bird, and Squinto followed him.

The turkey bobbed its head.  “Hey, I think you’re on to something there.  Those kinds of moves should work.  But after you’ve drawn them in, you have to keep them in suspense so they’ll stay around.  Do you know how to keep turkeys in suspense?”

The lads shook their heads as they pranced around him.

“I’ll tell you later!”  He hopped into the air, flopped over, and then flapped away into the sky.

“Hey!”  Groover tried to grab for him, but wasn’t close enough this time to succeed.  As he watched it veer to the side and disappear into the woods, he glared at Squinto.  “I thought you said his feathers would fall out if he took off!”

Squinto shook his head.  “He stayed just long enough to watch our dance.”

“Great, not only is he gone, we’ve got no proof we saw a talking turkey.”

“At least he shouldn’t curse the crops.  But what was that he did before he flew off?  It looked like he rolled over.”

Groover contemplated that execution, and there seemed to be only one conclusion.

“I think he just flipped us the bird.”


Here is my contribution to this month’s #BlogBattle, and the prompt word this time is Cultivate.  Every now and then I have to go a little off the wall … but be sure to check out all the other submissions!

We Come in Pieces

Bliss ran from hilltop to valley, and through fields and woods.  When she finally lingered near a stream to catch her breath and sip a drink, she cursed the Martians.

Well, the aliens weren’t really from Mars, but many people called them that.

The name game started when some busybodies suggested that calling them aliens was, well, alienating.  But after the attacks began, they got referred to in lots of other epithets.  Folks less inclined to swearing than Bliss was usually refrained from such monikers, but while she kneeled near the stream, she pretty much labeled them everything but Martians.

Wishing she had a light jacket to throw over her tee shirt, she surveyed the currently quiet forest around her.  Patches of smaller brush, guilty of lashing her bare arms and slapping against her jeans, were scattered throughout taller trees still sporting yellow and crimson leaves.

A sneeze from only thirty yards away prompted her to snatch the .45 pistol tucked into her belt at the small of her back.

Bliss swore under her breath as she aimed at the area the sound must have come from.  She had only five shots left, and these *#@%ing Martians were capable of splintering into eight components….

“Don’t shoot!”  The man who walked out from behind a tree swollen enough to conceal him held his hands up in the air.

Bliss lowered the pistol enough to keep him out of direct aim.  “Keep your distance!”

“I have been this whole time.”  His button-down shirt and khaki slacks looked as smudged as her own clothing, and he appeared to be wearing a daypack.

“You mean you’ve been following me?”

“Well, yes, there’s safety in numbers, you know.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”  At least imitating humans was not a feature of these fiends, but she couldn’t assume his motives were entirely altruistic.  “The Martians seem to like swooping in on groups to maximize their harvest.”

“Just two people don’t make a group.  My name’s Brandon, by the way.”

Bliss wasn’t in the mood to introduce herself.  “Unless you’re loaded for bear, I don’t need your help.”

“I was thinking more along the lines we could combine our resources.”  He began to slowly lower his hands.  “For one thing, I’ve got a little food.”

That was one of the oldest tricks in the book.  “I doubt you have enough for both of us.”

“It’s no banquet, but it could stretch berries and roots.”  He reached for his back pocket, so she raised the pistol.  “Easy there, I just need to wipe my nose before it drips.  Bad first impression.”

He pulled a white handkerchief from behind his hip.  It made her think of a surrender flag, and wasn’t sure if that should make her feel relieved or worried.

She waited for him to finish blowing his nose.  “How did you wind up bringing food?”

“I was in a pharmacy hoping to find some marbles that were out of stock in the other store when the Martians attacked the town.  Grabbed some bean dip and granola bars before making my break.”

She lowered the pistol again.  “Why were you following me?”

“I saw you take off after you gunned down an arm and a leg.  I know shooting them only slows them down, but creating an alliance with somebody who’s armed seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“Why did you wait until now to make your presence known?”

A small smirk twisted his lips.  “I had trouble keeping up with you.  Did you run track in high school?”

Bliss shrugged as she returned the pistol to her belt, but still berated herself for never checking her rear flank.  “At least it seems we outran them.  Too bad you didn’t grab any ammo while you were at it.”

Brandon sneezed again, and wiped his nose with the hanky before replying.  “Ammo is probably even harder to find than marbles these days.”

“You sick?”

“Just allergies.  They’re always worse in the fall.  So, shall we form our own militia?”

“I suppose.”  She shrugged again while nodding for him to step closer.  “I just wish the scatter-brained politicians hadn’t pulled our troops out prematurely.  They could’ve at least slowed down a lot more Martians.”

“Well, if you like conspiracy theories, I heard a story they escaped from a lab.”  He strolled toward her.  “Being visited by aliens was supposed to distract us from the supply chain disruption, inflation, and spending bills.”

“Or it’s another crisis to take advantage of.”

Brandon tilted his head as he halted a few feet from her.  “Hey, you got a point there–”

A snap came from behind the tree.

Bleep, he didn’t check his rear flank, either.  Too drained to sprint away at the pace she’d held earlier, Bliss yanked the pistol back out.

The Martian darted into view, and for a second it was reminiscent of a child’s incorrect drawing of a spider.  It had a head and a torso and two legs, but sported four arms.  And then it did that creepy thing.

The body parts disjointed, and a head, a torso, two legs and four arms dispersed into a jagged line and scrambled toward them.

Bliss hesitated, wanting to be sure she got off an accurate shot.  Her new comrade grabbed a nearby limb and gripped it near his head.

“I shoot a part, and then we run for it!” she hissed.

“Oh no, I think this branch triggered my allergies–”

The head was at the front of the charge, and closer to Brandon.  Afraid she might hit him, she didn’t fire as it launched into the air and toward his face.

He should have been able to bat it away like a baseball, but instead, he sneezed.  His swing completely missed the head.

It bounced off his chest and rolled back on the ground.  And then Bliss couldn’t believe what she saw next.

As the head moaned in a high pitch, it and all the other parts ceased their advance and started writhing.  In the next few seconds the color of its skin darkened from a pale pink to a septic green.  The eyes of the head rolled back, the cheeks sunk in, and then everything became still.

They stared at the remains for a few seconds before he murmured, “What happened?”

Laughter rippled in her chest but didn’t break to the surface.  “Wow!  That was like War of the Worlds on steroids!”

His brow furrowed.  “Maybe I’m asymptomatic.”

“I don’t care.”  Bliss grabbed his hand.  “Let’s go Brandon!  We’ve got to let everybody know we might have a way to make these aliens something to sneeze at!”


So here is my contribution to #BlogBattle this month, and the word this time is Scattered.  As you can see, I decided to just have some fun with it….

Have some fun checking out all the other submissions!