A Dead Turkey and Blueberry Gas

By Cameron J. Kirby

“Sterling and I are waiting in the emergency room,” my wife paused; I could hear the swell of emotions rising as she described our four-year-old’s condition over the inconsistent reception of our cell phone network. “He’s been screaming in agony for over an hour now, and I don’t know what else to do.…”

A hundred miles to the east, spring had awakened the valley; the trees were no longer bare, and their verdant foliage provided a limited view as I coursed down the two-lane road. With springtime comes turkey season, and I was well into an extended weekend of battling ticks and poison oak while hunting for the elusive red-headed gobbler.

The hillside below was steep and naturally directed my feet toward a large pond I had previously scouted. Between the snowmelt and the spring rain, the animals had plenty of watering holes to choose from; hopefully routine would play into my favor. From the numerous semi-velociraptor-looking footprints, I knew a rafter of turkeys had passed through the basin recently. I staged my decoys and called with a sultry siren song that any tom would find irresistible… no dice. They were playing hard to get and wouldn’t give me the satisfaction of a casual gobble.  

Working  my way back up the gradient, tracing along a holler looking for signs, I found a feather stuck to a small oak sapling and picked it up. It looked fresh. Out of my periphery, I sensed movement and scanned the woods as three beardless heads bobbled 40 yards up the hillside. Still crouched, I lifted my Benelli into position and waited … out of the tall grass came a redheaded tom, his beard bouncing up and down like a painter’s brush traversing a green, brown, and yellow pigmented canvas as he followed his small harem into the clearing.

BOOM—the report of my shotgun filled and then subdued the atmosphere; my ears were still ringing as I thumbed the safety and advanced toward the lifeless bird. The three hens quickly faded into the woods, never looking back at their fallen lover.

I set my pack on the ground and dug through the front pocket for my transport tag, it was nestled next to my phone. There was service on this hillside, and I soon discovered four missed calls and multiple text messages from my wife. My youngest son was in the emergency room. I needed more information. Fortunately, there was just enough signal for an outbound call.

She brought me up to speed with the situation and told me about his immense abdominal pain, and that he had been screaming for well over an hour; they had rushed to the hospital and were waiting to see a doctor. I knew I had to get there as soon as possible; the miles be damned.

I slung the tom across my back and bounded up, and back down the abrupt terrain; my eyes scanned several paces ahead as the ground blurred. Adrenaline fueled the rise and fall of my legs as compacted dirt trailed behind me. Each footfall relied on intuition as my movements quickly switched to a primordial instinct.

I was out of breath when my SUV came into view, a million thoughts were fomenting in my mind, then they quickly solidified. I threw my pack and the tom in the back hatch, the decoys stiffly bounced in a false mimicry of the deceased bird. I’ll need more fuel, I thought, detaching the jerrycan and filling my tank. “No need to stop for gas,” I said aloud, glancing toward the tom, his blood dribbled along the red folds and onto the rubber mat below.

The gravel scattered as I launched forward, the dust stalking me until my tires grasped the pavement in a welcomed embrace. Each corner became a solemn prayer and the straightaways a hymn of road, rubber, and machine. In time, I made it to the highway and was well on my way toward civilization. I rolled the windows down to subdue the smell of fresh death as the other cars streamed behind me and I pushed the limits of my brick on wheels.

My phone buzzed; looking down at the lock screen I saw it was my wife.

“Any updates?” I asked her.

She paused, “Yeah, it’s just poop.”


“The doctor just got the x-rays back, and it’s just a lot of poop and backed-up gas. He ate a carton of blueberries and apparently, they didn’t agree with his digestive tract.” She let out a relieved laugh, “He’s been farting like crazy and feels a lot better now.”

“That’s going to be one expensive poop,” I said, decreasing my speed and moving over to the right lane. “How does turkey sound for dinner tonight?”

“I’m down for anything… just no blueberries.”

From the FE Films Archive

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