{word count: ca 2200. read time: 20 min}

Crow woke up from a spirit flight one fresh air, pale blue morning and he knew by the shape his face was taking that he had not smiled in a
long time. His belly sagged from want of a good laughing and a proper
meal. Those darkness eyes of his jabbed the world below, around his
lofty evergreen perch. Crow grumbled that there were no corn stalks to
be seen anywhere.
There was however, a black way cut through the sparse woods next to his tree. This was no hoof trodden deer path. What happened to this country?

Interest quipped, Crow loped casually down to have a closer look at this development. It was a highway that smelled of Hel’s realm. The colour suited him, of course; even the yellow markings down the middle. It looked a kind of snake slithering over the earth. That was good because snakes were wise; they knew how to keep- Crow’s head cocked. What do they call them now? -humans. Keep humans in their place. At least he hoped snakes still possessed that power after all this time. How long had he been ghost flying anyway? Crow mused for a moment. He sauntered off the road, back up to his high seat.

What now? Afar he spied some unfamiliar beast moving along the tar track. It’s going was much too fast, but it’s shell glinted attractively in the sunlight. It came closer. This was no beast! Not even a giant beetle. He saw it was a chariot that had gone and swallowed up all its horses. Passing by in a mighty roaring wind, Crow saw a woman was inside. Crow sense a strange kind of magic here and knew he must understand it.

After a good preening he flew purposefully down. He formally announced himself to the black snake using all his best names and famous titles. He waited for a reply; the road said nothing.

A noise told him another chariot was approaching. Crow did not move. Perhaps he was being tested? When the silver-grey thing came in sight, he could make out a man inside. Crow stood up his tallest and began to declare himself in his most impressive voice. Strange that there was no response. He wondered if he was speaking at all for the chariot kept coming fast. It showed no evidence of stopping. Crow held his ground. The man’s eyes had no expression for Crow. Finally, he saw there was a glimmer of something- passing concern?- But the speed did not alter whatsoever. He was summarily run over.

Crow just woke up.

Crow was hungry.

And now Crow was dead.

Why had he come back from his journey at all? He never had a desire to learn about 30 inch Firestone radial tires in such an intimate way.

Crow floated above the silent road for a moment considering. He thought a wicked curse to lay on the road where he was killed. Then turned himself into Fox-Eyed-Woman. He drew the sounds of his oath in his own blood with his own dark feathers before running on long legs after the source of his death. Cracks like nasty scars began to form beneath the flattened corvine body, but he was already too far away to see them spread.

To be dead first thing in the day means every hour afterward can only get better. He hurried faster because where that man went there would be food. And sport to his liking or so he hoped behind a rueful smile.

Fox-Eyed-Woman forgot about being Crow. She knew that she was beautiful, wily and vengeful.

She easily caught up with and over took the demise of Crow. She stood the road ahead of that massive chariot. This time the instant she came into the line of sight of his pale eyes. They went wide. He brought his conveyance to a hideous stop before a mocha skinned siren in a black summer dress. Stumbling in his rush out to her, loud babble sounds came from his mouth. Noise.
Fox-Eyed-Woman tilted her head to one side, brushing long strands of dark hair into place.

Words- something. Then:

Hey, there. Miss. Uh, lady, are you all right? I am so sorry I did not see you sooner! Are you OK? Do you need help?

Scrutinizing him for a moment she blinked; looked deeper into- into- Spencer. Shaved, clean, average, Spencer.
Yes. Please? Can you help? Came a guileless, halting reply.

He escorted her to the passenger side of an all wheel drive Silverado
pickup truck. The experience of riding inside did not move Fox-Eyed-Woman very much. Her heart already hated it from the outside and now from within as well. Spencer, so he was called because his parents loved old black & white movies, was on his usual morning commute into the city were he worked as a freelance design consultant.

What ever happened to tanner or cooper? Horse tamer, even.

Fox-Eyed-Woman did her best to maintain a level of interest in the Chattering Man’s dialogue. For her the majority of what he said meant nothing, though she was fast learning. So kept him talking with subtle input.

The trees gave way to ugly buildings and open spaces where cars lined up in patterns. These mosaics made no coherent picture to view from above, she knew.

So do you want me to take you- where? Home? The police? Hospital??

No, I am not that bad off, she smiled coyly.

Where then?

I feel like I haven’t eaten in days. Where is there good food?


There was puzzling apprehension was in his voice.

I know a great place. It is breakfast time so try their French Toast. Amazing stuff!

As they went farther into the city proper, the traffic became worse than Autumn migration; twice the headache.

Spencer kept glancing at glowing numbers in the- dash and then at a band on his wrist; then frustrated at the cars ahead of them not
moving fast enough.

Shit- Man! Look, I don’t have enough time to get you there. I’ll be late for everything. Can I just drop you here? OK?

I could drop you right there.

He pointed to a drugstore.

The bus stops just out front too.

That would be fine. Thank you for your help, Spencer, the false words sounded thick in her shapely mouth.

Thank you anyway, Spencer.

He completely missed the renewal of wrath behind that radiant smile.

Goodbye, Spencer.

Goodbye, he awkwardly replied as she slid to the pavement. No man ever fled from Fox-Eyed-Woman as this man seemed to.

How long would it take him to notice the single bloody feather she left in the truck?

Walking and walking on the streets full of gawking men and women Fox-Eyed-Woman endured. She was too annoyed and weary from hunger to flirt back at them all. Miles later, there was the purple building Spencer had envisioned. An elegantly scripted sign over the door read Lethe.

She minced up to the woman behind the counter in a cute way that could not be helped and asked for a pastry and the strongest drink available. To. Go.

That comes to $7.56, the server smile politely.

Ah! Expletive! She had nothing to repay with. Flustered with the concept of money, she left the place ahuff, throwing into everyone a forgetfulness that she had been there; to be in keeping with the name of the place and all. But that wasn’t even worth a half smile at the moment.

In a side alley, Fox-Eyed-Woman remembered being Crow.
At once his wings lifted him up high. He turned inward.

This Spencer had done serious wrongs: firstly, killing him; secondly, granting a stranger less than half the hand of generosity.
Hmm, well, his day was improving after all, but not nearly enough to get his laugh on. Crow flapped absently over the city, rather- around its tall, shining buildings.
Shiny was good. Not so good as?… His thoughts sped off leagues away.
His body stretched to keep pace. They met up together again at an isolated home blessedly made of wood, surrounded by a level front lawn, gardens and stands of well placed trees. Crow landed himself on the rail of the wrap around porch and peered into large window. This here was the house of Spencer. There was Spencer’s woman- girlfriend-not-wife. Another average creature. She sat, one leg tucked under on a couch with a glass in her hand, staring.

Such dull eyes.

North-Man very tall, slim and well formed forgot about being Crow. He ran a hand through vibrant red hair and carried himself with an easy gait to the front door. The woman answered his knock.

Putting all the sweet he dared into his voice, North-Man convinced- convinced Mischele he was an acquaintance who worked with Spencer often and wanted to throw him a little surprise party. He needed her help. He would have called but… more talk. Words to fill the space between the door and the living room.

What were you watching there? North-Man queried aloud.

Then added under his breath, With such a stupid look on your face.

Oh, nothing important. There is never anything good on, but we just got this brand new HD thing. I love it. The picture quality
is fantastic. The old one burned out. I think it was defective. Or something.

He pretended to admire this device. Inwardly, he bowed in respect for he saw Snake in the box. Clever, clever Snake. So this is how to keep them all in check; pacified. The understanding made him grin lopsidedly.

Abrupt, turning to her he asked, I don’t wish to impose myself, but I have not been able to eat all day. Do you have anything?

Yes, of course.?

She led him to the spacious kitchen where he managed to construct a sandwich to suit his omnivorous tastes and ate it slowly with the greatest pleasure while Mischele nattered about Spencer. He did not listen. Ice water as a chaser and North-Man was feeling more like himself. Alright. Enough of this. A glint of wicked passed over him. Mischele saw it and felt a fearful doubt about this man. It passed however, when he stepped closer, looked deep into her and suggested almost sexually-

Now. Let us do some redecorating for that party, as he picked up his plate and hurled it to the wall just behind her.

She didn’t even jump.

Easily under his spell, Mischele transformed into something to match any berserker. Together with savage, inhuman energy they shattered every mirror, window and glass item. Shredded and overturned furniture; casting a few choice pieces out the windows. Smashed the televisions with golf clubs. Knifed everything. Upstairs and down they went. Flooded bathrooms, burned Spencer’s clothes. Drenched rooms with the vintage wine collection. Axed the statuary… Oh the howls and screams they made! The entire house was practically razed in delirious abandonment. Black feathers were strewn among the destruction.

At the end of it Mischele stormed out of the chaos with a few suitcases convinced she just had an afternoon of life changing
experiences so wonderful that she was going to leave her longtime boyfriend for this Red Head. She drove off without a doubt she would meet North-Man at the airport and they would fly to Rio. At no point did she find the thought absurd. North Man, of course, had no intention of seeing her again- if he could help it. He relished the thought of such an insipid woman heartbroken, alone and way out of her depth in a strange land. Because he would make sure she went all the way to Rio before breaking the spell.

North-Man lounged in a disfigured, overstuffed and not gutted leather chair eating corn bread dipped in one surviving carafe of milk. Crumbs fell all down his green shirt. This was excellence itself. A fine dessert.

He couldn’t dislodge the grin from his jaw. Wait until Spencer returns!

Spencer drove back home as a giant state of aggravation after the most preposterous day he had ever experienced. Between project delays, unhappy clients and clients lost he was beyond unsettled.

He had forgotten about the gorgeous knock out he had almost knocked over on the ride in. And the nasty feather he daintily kicked out of his truck. And what the hell happened to the road since this morning? Were they doing construction? No, because there was that same cat or bird road-kill from earlier.

An image of the Fox-Eyed-Woman flashed in his memory, but it meant nothing to him at the time.

Jeez, if he drove this road every day like this, he would have to get the realignment done every week!

At sigh-frigging-last Spencer was home and parking his truck in the garage.

He noticed it was darker than usual which meant Mischele must not have been home. She usually calls about plan changes. Odd.
Fighting down an uneasy churning within, Spencer went to the front door instead of the side entrance. He knew something wasn’t kosher. Up the stairs, fumbling for the porch light, shock nibbled at his toes and fingers, eating greedily to his center. Before he could open the front door, before he could manipulate his cell phone a large, black bird emerge suddenly from one of the windows. Shards of disturbed glass fell in its wake. It kaaawed and to Spencer he thought he somehow heard malevolent laughter.

The laughter did not stop ringing in Spencer’s brains for a long time.

Oh these small beginnings!

Crow giggled into the wind currents- who did not need to be reminded of Crow’s most resplendent names. He let them carry him to a more easterly destination.