Abirritant

Johnny was walking down the road from his uncle’s farm with a sack of peaches and a jug of goat’s milk under his arm when Old Crow hopped down to a rotten fence post to gab at him.

“Hey there, Johnny!” Old Crow called.

Now Johnny never knew Old Crow his own self but his uncle had told him to leave the bird be, and not get mad. So Johnny turned his head and kept walking down the road to his mother’s house.

“Hey, Johnny!” Old Crow called, hopping between the fence posts, his black wings shining like spilled inkwells.

Johnny took to whistling, hoping Old Crow might buzz off. But the fat bird just kept calling.

“Hey, Johnny!” hollered Old Crow.

“What is it, Old Crow?” said Johnny.

“Give me one of them peaches,” said Old Crow, “and a drop of goat’s milk.”

Johnny wasn’t supposed to give the crow nothing, so Johnny said, “Old Crow, I ain’t supposed to give you nothing.”

The bird cawed. “Johnny, mind your manners! Your mother told me if I left off the harvest she’d give me some fresh peaches for my troubles.”

Now Johnny knew he wasn’t supposed to believe Old Crow, but he knew his mother would be hopping mad if he didn’t believe her. “That does sound like a lie,” said Johnny.

“Let me soothe that flamin’ temper o’yours with a simple abirritant,” said Old Crow. “Just let me take a look at them peaches, that’s all I want. I’ll feed my eyes if’n I can’t feed my belly. My balm is my word, and trust what I have to say. I won’t move from this spot, Johnny.”

Johnny never was too good with fancy words, so he sighed and opened the sack of peaches and uncorked the jug. Of course, no sooner had he done the deed than Old Crow’s cousins, a whole murder of nasty crows, swooped down on Johnny, peckin’ and a’cawin’ until he was chased off the road and left his uncle’s goods to the birds. But of course Old Crow never did move from that fence post.

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