I wrote this story called The Scarecrow a couple of years ago (I think) as a freebie for Halloween that year.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I feel like it is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest and like Sarah McLachlan sang so perfectly, “…come out at night, that’s when the energy comes and the dark side’s light. And the vampires roam…”
However, this isn’t a vampire story. I think vampires have been done to death (Pun intended). So, one day I was listening to Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance (as my music taste change with the seasons) and the song Rhiannon came on. And the magic wrapped up in that song made me want to write a story.
So, without further ado. Here it is.
The Scarecrow F.E. Feeley Jr
Scott stared out the window at mile marker 215 and cringed as the car he drove bucked and shook and rattled to as the engine began to die. The gas gauge had been on ‘E’ for a while, since before he took a wrong turn at a fork in the road. The old Crown Victoria LTD, the land yacht as his friends call it, sailed right over to the curb where it quaked one final time and then gave up the ghost. Scott looked at the world around him as his laugh turned into sobs. He rested his head on the steering wheel as he grabbed for the beer between his legs. The bottle was warm now, the beer almost gone as he raised his head and downed the rest of it, then threw it in the back seat with the others. He heard glass break but didn’t care. Scott wiped away the tears and put the car into park before opening the door.
Darkness had come to the world, inky black and cloudless, pierced only by the vast stars above his head and a heavy full moon peeking over the horizon. A cool, gentle wind swept through the night and landed on Scott’s skin as he stood in the midst of nowhere to evaluate his current state.
“I’m fucked, that’s my current state,” he said to himself as he looked around, hoping to see a pair of headlights or a house.
Scott hoped for some sign of life somewhere, only to be disappointed. Everything was dark from end to end. But as he turned his head from one side to the other, the only thing he noticed was a farmer’s field across the road. He stood there as the moon rose slowly and cast its bright white light on the world around him. In the center of that field, the rows of whatever grew there now long gone from the harvest’s blade, stood a scarecrow. Perched upon the scarecrow were four crows peering silently at him. The only way he knew they were real, was that they would move about as they observed him.
“If I oooonly had a brain.” He muttered as he opened up the fly of his jeans, pulled out his dick and spread his legs. He leaned his left hand on the hood of the car while he emptied his bladder on the concrete between his boots.
“Maybe you shouldn’t lecture yonder scarecrow, Scotty. You followed your dick all the way from Houston to buttfucked Indiana. Bet you wished you used your brain yourself, huh?” he said, stuffing himself back into his pants. Raising his head to look back over at the figure hanging on his pole, he smirked.
“Buddy, you look just like I feel.”
It was true. Here he was, twenty eight. Dumped. Broke. And humiliated.
Hung out to dry.
Scott lowered his head at the thought and fought the urge to cry again. No. He wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t give into the pain that burned his chest and the back of his eyes, but as he closed his eyes, the memory from a few hours ago flashed in his mind. Opening the front door of the bedroom in the house he shared with his boyfriend, he received the truth in one slap across the eyes that shattered his heart like the beer bottle he’d thrown in the backseat of his car moments earlier. After having gotten off work early at the mill, stopping by the liquor store, after having bought a case of beer, secretly pleased to surprise his man, he walked through the door to find his boyfriend balls deep in some random stranger.
He’d backed out of the room, ignoring Brian shouting his name, and turned toward the kitchen, snatching up the case of beer and his car keys. His mind reeling, he made his way back to the front door as Brian’s hand grabbed him. Fury rose in Scott before he could stop himself from swinging, fist colliding with Brian’s mouth. The ‘other man’ stopped dead in his tracks as Brian fell backward against the living room wall and landed on his bare ass. His deflated prick shriveled up and he stared at Scott in disbelief. The ‘other man’ darted into the kitchen and out the back door, leaving his lover and Scott alone in the house. Brian, hand over his bleeding mouth, tears rolling down his face and naked as the day he was born, scooted against the wall as Scott walked forward and knelt down.
“I am getting in my car and I am leaving. You will not follow me. Am I understood?” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“NO!” Scotty shouted in his face. Brian sobbed and pulled back against the wall.
Lowering his voice once more, Scotty said, “Babe is dead. There is no babe, now. Us, we’re over. I’ll send for my stuff when I get to wherever it is I am going now. You will not follow me, you will not call me, I will not answer, understood?”
Brian simply nodded, sobbing. His big six foot frame wracked with emotion as Scott leaned forward and kissed his forehead before he stood up. Scott left the man he’d loved naked and crying as he drove off. He’d been surprisingly calm as he navigated the streets that he’d come to know over the year they’d been together. When he first drove off, he was on autopilot as he broke open the case. One beer led to another, then to another, and before he knew it he was good and lost and drunk
Now, as his gaze fell to his bruised and aching hand, he bit back the tears as he flexed it, knowing Brian’s face would be in as much pain as his hand was. If not worse.
“Fuck him” he growled and flung the driver’s side door open, popping the trunk. Scott bent over and turned on his flashers before slamming the door and heading to the back of his vehicle. The yellow glow of the emergency flashers illuminated the landscape as he reached for the empty gas can. He slammed the trunk closed.
He reached into his pocket as he came to the front of the car and leaned against the huge hood as he looked for a signal for his cell phone. Of course, there wasn’t one, so he shoved it back into his jeans pocket and looked back over his shoulder at the way he’d come. Scott didn’t remember a gas station. He really didn’t remember much between leaving the house and breaking down
here. Scott glanced once more at the farmer’s field and the scare crow before turning toward the road in the opposite direction.
“If there is a farmer’s field, then there must be a farm house,” he muttered. Whatever buzz he’d had had long ago dissolved leaving him sober and crushed under the weight of knowing he was alone. With a groan he began to walk. The sound of his boots hitting the pavement was the only sound he could hear. No that wasn’t right. A symphony of crickets sang in the oddly warm October night. It made him lonelier than he’d ever felt in his life.
“I wish I could just die,”
Scott was five hundred feet from the car when he first heard the sound: footsteps, almost perfectly timed with his own. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he spun on his heels. The street was empty except for his old car that blinked at him in yellow repetition.
He turned back around and walked forward as a cooler wind cascaded down the road, causing him to huddle into his leather jacket. He walked another few yards when he heard the sound again. This time, he stopped dead in his tracks. So did the sound.
He faked as if to take another step when someone else’s foot came down on the ground. With a shout of anger he spun only to find that, again, the street was empty. There was nowhere for anyone to duck if they were tailing him. There was nothing for them to hide behind. His car sat unmolested, still flashing its yellow lights. However, instead of turning around to continue walking, Scott let his eyes stray over to the farmer’s field. What he saw—or didn’t see—caused his blood to run cold.
The scarecrow was gone.
In its place was an empty T where the stuffed body once was. Disbelieving, he closed his eyes for a second, shook his head, and then reopened them. The T was still empty.
“What the fuck?”
His heart thumped so hard he could hear it in his ears. His blood burst through his veins and his breathing ripped from him as he looked around him once more for someone following him. The field was as empty as it was when he got out of his car. This time, when he resumed walking, he quickened his step.
Where did the scarecrow go?
He didn’t know, but he would give anything to go back to feeling lonely. He made a few more feet’s worth of progress when he heard the footsteps again. Instead of turning, however, he picked up tempo. . The footsteps mirrored his steps. He panicked and broke into a run. He was pretty strong and spent many a morning before work at the gym, so when he burst into an all-out sprint, it was quite a while before his legs and lungs began to burn. However, the slap of his feet against the blacktop weren’t the only ones he heard. He tossed the gas can out of his hands as he poured more steam into his escape, thinking whoever was following him could have the car, but it didn’t make a difference. The phantom footsteps dogged him. Pain seared in his side as his muscles began to cramp, forcing him to slow down. He turned to see if anyone was behind him and his foot caught on the other, tripping him. His hands shot out to brace his fall and his wrist snapped, pain burning up his arm as he rolled, quickly trying to separate himself from his invisible assailant. On his back, he was stunned to find that, again, he was alone.
Breathing hard, sweat pouring off his head, and his wrist burning like mad, he took a moment to catch his breath. He tried to flex his wrist but groaned as pain shot up his arm. He cradled it close and gave into tears. Everything hurt, his legs, his guts, his probably broken wrist, and his heart. Instead of getting up, Scotty rolled to his side and wept. It wasn’t quiet either. He wanted to be home, having a few beers, sitting next to Brian on their worn loveseat watching Netflix or playing turns on their new PlayStation 4, or in their bedroom rolling around in the sheets. Instead, here he was, broke down and broken hearted, in the middle of nowhere, lost to the night, with only the sound of his tears and phantom footsteps for company.
Scotty stopped mid-sob to listen. The footsteps. They were back. Walking toward him. His eyes grew wide and he tried to sink into the ground, to flatten himself out. He wanted to give in, to just lay there and die, but his body screamed at him to get up. He rolled back over and was almost to his feet when the footsteps stopped right beside him. Slowly he turned his head to see a pair of black boots, following those up to a pair of ratty blue jeans and then to an old plaid shirt. What he saw farther up made him shout in fear. Staring back at him was a burlap sack with two holes as eyes and a slit for a mouth. He rolled once more and scooted back from the scarecrow that tilted its head as it watched him.
“Who are you?”
The scarecrow just stared at him.
“I don’t have any money.”
The scarecrow tilted its head the other way.
“Please. I’m broke down. I’m just trying to find some help.”
Scotty reached backward to scoot farther away when his hurt wrist buckled under his weight, causing him to cry out. He darted his eyes away from the thing to bring his injury into focus. Before he knew it, the scarecrow knelt before him. Scotty tried to pull away but the creature reached for him.
“Hurt,” it said. Its voice was peculiarly deep, gravely, masculine, and rumbled like thunder.
“What?” Scotty asked in disbelief.
“Hurt.” The scarecrow reached for him with a gloved hand protruding from inside the flannel shirt. Insistently, the scarecrow motioned for him to give him his hand. Scotty raised it for the creature to see. Sure enough, the wrist was swelling, and his hand looked ballooned and bruised.
The scarecrow stood and walked to the side of the road and then down toward the fence. Scotty watched it go, its big frame lumbering as he searched for something on the ground. Finding it, he bent over, picked it up, and came back. Kneeling down, he reached for Scott’s hand. This time Scotty extended it over.
The hand that took his wasn’t rough. In fact, it was rather gentle, and it didn’t feel empty as he figured hay stuffed gloves would feel. Instead, there was bulk inside it. As the scarecrow put a shaft of corn stalk in his palm between his thumb and his fingers and closed Scotty’s hand partially around the stalk. With another, he pulled out a length of cloth and wrapped Scott’s injury snugly, immobilizing his wrist. Scotty couldn’t believe it. He was dumbfounded. The pain in his wrist was still there, but being still and supported, it wasn’t as bad as it had been.
“Thank you.” Scotty said, lowering his hand. The Scarecrow leaned back and tilted his head again, staring at him with sightless eyes.
The scarecrow leaned forward and brushed at Scotty’s cheek. Scotty flinched and instantly regretted when the hand retreated.
The gesture was tender, and despite the insanity of it all, Scott felt his eyes well up again as he tapped his own chest.
“Hurt,” he said thickly.
The scarecrow groaned as he pointed to his own chest. Scotty couldn’t help but chuckle as he nodded. He reached for the scarecrow’s burlap face. The creature didn’t move. Instead, he
raised his own rough hand and touched Scotty’s face as they both wiped away tears, real and imagined.
“Up?” The scarecrow said as their hands came down. Scotty looked around him and realized he was sitting on his butt in the middle of a deserted road. He nodded and the creature stood up and offered to take his good hand. Scotty took it and with strength that surprised him, was lifted to his feet in one solid move.
His knees were a little sore from impact, but not so bad that he couldn’t walk. The creature held up both his hands as it looked at him.
“Wait,” it said as it turned and walked down the road from the direction they’d come. In the distance he could still see his emergency lights and the empty T where the scarecrow once hung. The creature walked a few yards, bent over, and lumbered back to Scotty carrying his gas can. He handed it over and Scotty took it with his good hand.
“Thank you,” Scotty said. The scarecrow turned its head once more like a puppy dog who heard a sound it couldn’t understand. A cool breeze rustled the grasses around them and Scotty pulled his coat closer to him. The scarecrow pointed down the road to some place in the distance Scotty couldn’t see.
“That way?” Scotty asked, turning to where the scarecrow pointed. He turned back to see the head cocked in the other direction.
“Okay. Thank you.” Scotty began to walk away. After a few steps, he turned to see the scarecrow staring after him, alone in the middle of the road. Despite his better judgement, which at this point was fried, he stopped.
“Keep me company?”
The scarecrow stood there, silent for a moment. They both stared at each other. Finally, and surprisingly, the scarecrow approached. Scotty smiled gently as they fell into an easy gait. When he looked at their feet, he saw they had roughly the same stride. It was no wonder he kept up with him easily. It. Scotty turned his head to look at the scarecrow and felt a pang of sympathy. The scarecrow returned the look and Scotty smiled at another tilt of the head.
“Hurt?” It said putting its hand up for Scott to see.
“Not as bad, thanks to you.”
He grunted and nodded, returning his attention to the road. Scotty let his own gaze follow.
The scarecrow tapped its chest.
“That’s feeling better too.”
It grunted again.
“Do you live out there in the field, alone?”
The Scarecrow nodded.
Scotty watched him as he raised one gloved hand to his head where a temple should be. “Hurt.”
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Scotty said feeling his face burn with embarrassment. What a crazy night. He felt bad for possibly offending a scarecrow that had chased him down and scared him after catching his lover….
“It’s okay,” he replied, his deep gravelly voice rumbling. He sounded as huge as he was.
“Do you have a name?”
The creature tilted its head once more as if he didn’t understand the question. Scott tapped his chest once more. “Scott.”
A glove hand tapped its chest. “Uhn unna uhn no. I no name.”
“You don’t have a name?”
The burlap head shook sadly.
Scotty thought for a moment. “You fixed my hand. Kind of. How about I give you a name? How about Doctor Crow?”
The creature stopped in its tracks and Scotty stopped right along with it. It watched him silently as the moon reached the highest point in the night sky. Their bodies cast long black shadows on the ground next to them.
“I hope I didn’t upset you. I didn’t want to be rude.” Scotty said. The Scarecrow stared at him silently. Although Scotty couldn’t see his eyes, he knew they were boring holes into him. His size alone could crush Scotty if it wanted to. That idea made him shiver.
“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Scotty said, pointing at his heart.
“No hurt?” the scarecrow asked.
“No hurt,” Scotty said.
“Doctor Crow?” it asked pointing at him.
Scott nodded. “Yes.”
“Scott?” it asked pointing at him.
Scott nodded once again, yes, pointing at his heart.
“Thank you, Scott,” he said warmly.
“You’re welcome, Dr. Crow.”
Before their walk could stretch much longer, lights became visible in the distance. As they neared, Scott spotted a freeway gas station as the road broke out of the fields, the area becoming a little more populated.
Dr. Crow stopped and pointed at the service station. Its lights were on and there was a car fueling up. “Help.”
Scott stopped, too. He felt a pang in his chest at the thought of leaving Dr. Crow out here alone. Or at all. He looked at his companion with uncertainty.
“No hurt, Scotty,” the big scarecrow said gently.
“But where will you go, Doc? Back up on that old T again? All by yourself?” Scott asked. The car that had been fueling up turned out of the gas station and turned in his direction. If they see him, they’ll be scared, Scott thought to himself. They’ll scare him.
“Not alone. Go. Help. Go.” The scarecrow said once more. Scotty looked at him and then back at the car and then back at him. To his surprise, he found himself standing alone on the side of the road.
The car passed him, its headlights illuminating behind him to reveal an empty road.
Scotty walked the rest of the way to the Shell station and pulled open the door. A lone attendant, an older woman, listened to the radio as she counted change into the register. As he came in she looked up from what she was doing and smiled.
“You made it just in time, I was about to close up,” she said.
“Oh, wow. Glad I did. I broke down a couple miles back. I was wondering if I could get a couple gallons of gas,” he said setting his can on the floor and reaching for his wallet with his good hand.
“Oh no. On the freeway?” the woman asked, concerned.
Scotty shook his head. “No. Back along the road that way.”
Her eyes widened.
“Harvey?” she called out. From somewhere in the back of the gas station someone returned the yell.
“Come here a minute, huh?”
An older man, presumably the woman’s husband came lumbering into view. His gait was a little slow, as if his back pained him.
“Young man here says he broke down a couple of miles back on ol Zacharias Road.” She said nodding toward Scott.
The older man’s bushy eyebrows went up as he turned to Scott, eyeing him suspiciously. “That right?”
“Yeah, I misjudged how much gas I had and took a left at a fork when I should have taken a right,” Scotty said as he rested his injured hand on the counter. The two older people looked at each other.
“Did you run into some trouble?” he asked nodding toward Scotty’s hand.
Scotty didn’t dare tell him about his companion for fear of them calling the police. “I was walking this way, got spooked, and took a tumble.”
The old man snorted. “Got spooked huh? Old Zacharias Crow, I bet.”
“Harvey, hush,” the woman said as she closed the register. There was no conviction in her voice when she said it. Scott figured she wanted the man to tell his story.
“Who’s Zacharias Crow?” Scotty asked, knowing in his gut who they were talking about.
The old man pulled an equally old handkerchief from his pocket, blew his nose, checked out what sort of mess he made, and stuffed it back in his pocket. “Old Doc Crow. Used to be a farmer in these parts back oh, I dunno, June what? Fifty years ago, somethin like that?”
The old woman nodded. “Something like that. You’re not from around here, are you?”
Scotty shook his head. “No.”
The old man continued. “Old Doc Crow was a simple man. Sort of slow, if you know what I mean. He lived alone in the fields out yonder. Legend has it, a stranger got stuck out in front of his property late one night. Sort of like tonight, as a matter of fact. Doc Crow went to help him, but the man didn’t like the way he looked and made fun of him. Doc Crow murdered him and hung him out as a scarecrow. When the police showed up, old Doc led them into the field and admitted the whole thing. Said, he’d hurt him. Made fun of his face.”
“What happened then?”
The couple looked at each other. “They hung him the following morning. The man he killed was some rich man’s son.”
Scotty’s blood turned cold but he kept his composure. “Is that right?”
They both nodded.
“How did he earn the doctor title?”
The woman snorted. “Apparently he was pretty good at fixing things. Had a knack for it. People, animals, cars. The little retard was gifted.”
Scott’s eyes narrowed. He was probably autistic, not retarded.
“Anyway, legend has it Rhiannon, some old goddess, cursed him to walk the earth to make amends for his murder.” The older man said.
“No, no no. She cursed him because he made a scarecrow of the man he killed, not because he killed him.”
Scotty looked between the two. “Rhiannon?”
“Sure. Like that old Fleetwood Mac song? Rhiannon is supposedly the goddess of birds and beasts.”
“And now he is made to walk the earth alone.” Scotty said.
The old man nodded. “Yes. Some folks say, that he haunts the old pastures. Terrorizes stranded motorists. Kids go out there late at night and come back with all kinds of crazy stories. But the problem is, the curse is double edged. He has to help people, but who wouldn’t run away from a freak?”
Scotty bit down hard on the inside of his mouth.
“Anyone ever see him?”
“Some say they do. Mostly I think it’s kids being kids but that legend is true ya know? Hung him right out in front of his property. Poor guy.”
Scotty shrugged. The way he felt tonight, he’d been running real low on sympathy as well as gasoline. His thoughts returned to Brian, to his walking in and catching him mid-fuck, punching him in the face and then walking out. And now, for two old people who were frightened he may have been accosted by a ghost, they sure as hell sounded more likely to fear different people than an old legend. What was it that made them afraid? Karma? Won’t go down that road because they’re afraid something might happen to them? Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
Scotty straightened up and looked the old man in the eye. “Poor guy? Maybe he shouldn’t have made fun of him, then? It’s not very nice to hurt people.”
Surprised the old man looked at his wife and then back at Scotty. “I reckon not.”
Scotty turned to the older woman, “I just need a couple of bucks on one of the pumps out there, if you please.”
He placed a five dollar bill on the counter. She took it and he nodded at the couple as he turned on his heel and left them.
“D’ya want a lift back to your car?” The old man called back. Scotty looked over at his shoulder at the older couple staring after him. The woman’s face was pale.
“Nah, but thanks anyway.”
“You’re walking back there, alone?”
“Sure. I am not afraid of old ghosts. I’m not mean.” Scotty said as he made his way out the door. A few minutes later and a full can of gasoline, he was walking back down the road.
It wasn’t long after, when the gas station was just a glow in the background, that he heard another set of footsteps walking behind him.
Soon enough, Dr. Crow was beside him. Scotty looked over his left shoulder this time and saw the same burlap sack figure staring at him, its head tilted to the side.
“No help?” Dr. Crow asked.
Scotty shook his head and wrapped his injured arm around the waist of the lumbering figure next to him. The scarecrow wrapped an arm around Scott’s shoulder.
“I got all the help I need right here, Doc,” he said with a grin.
Arms slung around each other, walking at the same pace, the two figures treked across the empty road back to the place he’d broken down. He had a feeling as they made their way away from the gas station, there would be more than just his car waiting for them.
The night was long upon them, the moon high, and as they walked Scott’s thoughts were stormy. Something was missing. He worried about his companion who walked silently next to him. He’d seen enough horror movies, had read enough books, and heard enough urban legends to understand he was possibly in over his head. He was, after all, walking with a ghost who, every now and then, glanced his way. In this day and age, if the story was being written by popular authors, the duo would tear off in the direction of forever to have a torrid love affair. Beauty and The Stalk? Fifty Shades of Hay? Scott could just see it. Dr. Crow would go off to work in the fields and when he came home, Scott would have dinner prepared. After they finished Dr. Crow would lean back in his chair.
“Are you full, honey?”
“Yeah, babe. I’m stuffed.”
“Funny?” Dr. Crow asked. Scott turned and looked at him with a grin on his face and nodded. But the grin soon turned serious as he thought of the couple inside the gas station.
“You know Dr. Crow, I don’t know if you’d understand this, but sometimes people don’t change much. As a whole I mean. Sometimes people can be mean for no reason. You and me are more alike than you think.”
“Well, sometimes people don’t like people because they’re different. Doesn’t matter how they’re different. It’s just that they are.”
Dr. Crow tilted his head again, Scott was about to say something else when Dr. Crow spoke up. “People are mean because they don’t know what else to be.”
Scott stopped in his tracks. Dr. Crow stopped as well and turned to face Scott, whose mouth was agape. “What’s wrong?”
“Those people back at the gas station told me you were….uh….well….” Scott stammered.
“Death has loosened my tongue, Scott.” Dr. Crow said tapping his head. “I had a hard time getting words out when I was alive. But I am not surprised that’s their story. No, I was not retarded.”
A wave of anger tore through Scott. “Then why did you play dumb, before? With just grunts and hand gestures? ”
Dr. Crow stared at him in silence for a moment. “You were terrified of me. You threw your gas so you could run better. And then you hurt yourself. I didn’t want to scare you further. I am sorry if I upset you.” Scott exhaled slowly. Dr. Crow voice had softened, he was generally repentant. Scott felt his anger slip away even though his face was still flushed. Something was off. There was something in the back of his head that wasn’t quite right. Like all this was familiar somehow. “It’s alright.”
They continued walking and up ahead he could see the flashing lights of his car and the T where Dr. Crow once hung. Scott’s face burned red with embarrassment and he silently thanked the darkness for concealing it.
“What about the man you murdered? Was that true?”
The scarecrow’s big shoulders slumped. “Yes.”
They slowed their walk and Scott felt a twinge of fear in his guts. “What happened Doc?”
“What did they tell you?”
“Why don’t you tell me your version of events, since they’ve been wrong so far?”
“And if I did, would you believe me?”
Scotty snorted. “I am walking next to a ghost, who—for whatever reason—is dressed as a scarecrow. You didn’t kill me, as I suspected you would when I first saw you, but instead helped mend my hand. At this point, Doc. I’ll believe anything.”
Dr. Crow chuckled low and deep. It wasn’t an unpleasant sound. “I see your point.”
Scott smiled and reached for the man’s arm. Dr. Crow stopped walking and turned to look at him. “No hurt, Doc.”
“No hurt, Scott.”
Dr. Crow reached up, grabbed his burlap sack, and pulled. Scott didn’t expect that and gasped as the ugly burlap was removed. Long blonde hair spilled out, dirty and unkempt, but as the moonlight cast its glow over his face, Scott was almost moved to tears. Dr. Crow was handsome
and his face defined. Although his face was covered in a reddish beard, it was easy to see his strong jaw and full lips. His large green eyes shone like emeralds in the moonlight. He was perfect if but for one thing. Upon closer examination, the right side of his face seemed to draw a little further down as if paralyzed.
He made fun of his face.
Dr. Crow’s eyes were filled with sadness and longing that hurt Scott’s heart. When he spoke his voice was filled with emotion. “It was an accident.”
His mouth worked and he seemed to get frustrated with himself, so Scott reached out with his good hand and squeezed Dr. Crow’s fingers. “It’s okay.”
Dr. Crow looked at him uncertainly. His eyes questioning. “You say that.”
Scott laughed. “Would you like to know how I got here this evening? Remember, you said no judging. No hurt.”
Scott nodded and suddenly felt as uncomfortable as Dr. Crow must have now that he was on the spot. Cautiously, he let go of his hand and took a step back just in case. Scott opened his mouth and nothing came out. He tried to rephrase what he was going to say and found himself bereft of words.
“It’s okay, Scott.”
Scott shook his head. “No. It isn’t. Nothing about this evening has been right. Everything has been cosmically wrong. Breaking down, the people at the gas station, who by the way are jerks. Who said old people have to be nice? Right.”
“They were mean to you?” Dr. Crow asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously. Scott shook his head.
“No. They were mean when they spoke about you. Anyway, okay, I walked in on my ….boyfriend….having sex with another man. I walked out, for good.” Scott said, feeling his face heat up again.
Dr. Crow stared at him for a moment without speaking.
Scott didn’t think about how long Dr. Crow had been hanging on that T. Fifty years, didn’t they say. Oh fuck, what I just said probably …..if he wasn’t going to murder me before, he probably….
“Yeah?” Scott asked, staring down at his boots.
“The man I killed was the man I loved.”
Scott’s head jerked up.
“He was the son of a local mill owner. We had,” Dr. Crow took a deep breath, “…been together several times. I loved him. He loved me back.”
“How could you kill the man you love?” Scott asked and immediately felt guilty.
How could you hit the man you claimed to love?
“He was going to move in with me. We were going to be together,” he said sadly as he continued walking. The emergency flashers cast yellow light as strongly as they had before he left. The sickly yellow glow on the T caused it to appear and fade into the shadows with each flash. Scott found he hated it.
“Someone found out about it?” Scott asked, feeling like he knew the direction this story was going.
Dr. Crow nodded and looked out over the field as if observing a scene Scott could not. Scott however, did see something he hadn’t noticed before. A concrete strip, long since busted up by Mother Nature, intersecting the road right where his car had failed.
“How did you know to call me Doctor Crow?”
Scott leaned against the hood of his car and followed Dr. Crow’s gaze into the field. “You were a scarecrow, and you took care of my hand, remember?”
“Yes. But how did you know?”
“I don’t understand.”
Dr. Crow turned and looked at Scott. “Sure you do.”
Scott shook his head. “It was just a wild guess.”
Dr. Crow looked him in the eye and then placed his palms on the hood of the car. “What else did those people at the gas station tell you about the day I murdered my lover?”
Scott shrugged. “They said it was fifty years or so ago. That you killed him because he made fun of your face and that the Sheriff hanged you the following day.”
Scott thought hard and then suddenly said, “Rhiannon.”
“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, who wouldn’t love to love her ?” Zechariah sang. *
The ground seemed to tilt beneath Scott and he reached out to grasp the hood of the car.
“You didn’t die fifty years ago.”
“They lied about everything else. Why not that?”
From down the road, in the direction of the gas station, came a pair of headlights. Panic bubbled up in Scott’s heart, deep inside, and he reached for Dr. Crow’s hand. “Zachariah, you have to hide, they’ll hurt you.”
The man standing next to him shook his head. “No, they can’t hurt me anymore, Scotty. They also can’t hurt you anymore, if you don’t let them.”
Scotty shook his head in confusion but Dr. Crow leaned in and sang in his ear. “Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, wouldn’t you love to love her?”
Scotty’s mind reeled. That song. What was it about that song?
The vehicle approaching stopped in front of them. Scotty turned his head from the blinding light and raised his injured hand to block out the glare. It was then Scott remembered.
The driver’s side door opened and slammed angrily. Footsteps could be heard before a shadowy figure with a bad gait emerged from the darkness to stand in the light. The passenger door opened and another figure appeared and stood next to the first.
Dr. Crow never moved from where he was standing, but he did place his hands on Scott’s shoulders and braced his body with his own. Slowly, Scott lowered his hand as his eyes adjusted to the glare. He stared angrily at Harvey and June.
“Hello, mother,” Scott said, finally.
“Step away from my son,” Harvey said menacingly.
“Or you’ll what? Kill me?” Dr. Crow asked. “You’ve done that once already.”
June looked on the verge of tears as she clung to her husband. “Scotty….”
Scott shook his head. “No. Don’t you say another word.”
“We tried to protect you,” She cried.
Scotty’s mind flashed back to the house he’d been haunting. To the man who walked in and caught his lover cheating on him. The punch to the face and the other man fleeing out the back door. He’d gravitated to them because they had been like he had been. Their story had become his and his story had been lost. He’d watched their lives play out. Their laughter. Their tears. Their lovemaking. He’d watched them eat together, sleep together, play video games together. And he’d watched as they fell apart. Their story had become his. He’d wanted what they had. What he should have had. And while they yet lived….
“I loved him, mother. It wasn’t fifty years ago. It was thirty five. There is no goddess, it was a song. It was our song.” Scotty cried. The memory of the early 1980’s flooded back. Scotty and Zach driving down the street in Scotty’s new car. His land yacht, as Zach called it. The windows
were rolled down and the V8 growled and the car floated on the roads. Fleetwood Mac sang out from the speakers about chains, tusk, and most of all, Rhiannon. They’d been in love.
Scotty stepped to the side and looked up at Dr. Crow, who looked down at him so mournfully Scott felt his throat catch and his eyes sting. “And he wasn’t retarded. He just had a hard time speaking when he got nervous.”
“He murdered you,” Harvey shot back.
Scott faced his father. “It was an accident, Dad.”
Turning his head toward the house that once stood in the middle of the field, Scott could see the scene playing over again.
The night was replaced with daylight as the memory of himself whipping his car up the driveway with his father’s truck in hot pursuit, followed closely by the Sheriff suddenly came into focus. Scott threw the car into park and jumped out in time to be tackled by his father and his friend. Scott tried to throw them off, to get away, but he couldn’t shake their hold.
The front door of the house burst open and Zachariah stepped out with a shotgun in his hand. He pumped it once and leveled it at the three men who stood there. He could hear his mother scream in response from the passenger seat of the truck.
“G…g….g..et. Aw..aw…awa…awy fffffrom…him.” Dr. Crow had stammered. He started moving down the stairs slowly, one foot at a time.
The hold on him released and Scotty stepped away from them.
“Now, son. Put that shotgun down and we can talk about it,” The Sheriff said as his hand rested on the butt of his weapon, the palm of his other hand in front of him like a shield.
“N..nn…nothing…to…ttttalk about, Sheriff. Gggg….get yourrrr rrrraaggettty B-b-bible beatin ass off my pppproperty.”
Harvey looked uncertainly back at his wife and she at him. “Get in the truck, Harvey. Leave him alone. Just get in the truck.”
“The retard is screwing our son!” He yelled back.
It took less than three seconds. Scotty’s father reached behind his back and brought forward a pistol from the waistband of his jeans. Scotty shoved the Sheriff backward and dove for his father as he raised the gun. Zachariah had already turned the shotgun toward his father.
“NO!” he bellowed as he threw himself in front of his dad.
And then the world exploded.
As darkness once again descended, Scotty turned to his parents.
“There was no legend and no goddess. He wasn’t arrested, otherwise you would have been implicated in my death. There was no trial. He killed me, so he didn’t put up a fight. So you hanged him, didn’t you? You’re the one who made him a scarecrow. You strung him up for the world to see. As punishment,” Scotty said. His mother wept openly in Harvey’s arms and the look on his father’s face was one of shame.
“I loved him. I love him, Dad. Even now,” he said as he wrapped and arm around Zachariah’s waist. Zachariah, in turn, wrapped his arm around Scott’s shoulder.
“No more lies,” Zachariah said. “You no longer have any power here. Your son is coming with me.”
June wept. “Where?!”
“To the place where all souls go when they die. Where we should have gone,” Zachariah said before turning to look at Scott.
“Are you ready?”
“What about them?”
Zachariah chuckled. “They’ll have to go their own way.”
Scott felt himself become weightless, like his body no longer had mass. And in a panic he stopped walking. Zachariah stopped as well. Scotty raised a hand up to the right side of Zachariah’s face. His lover’s eyes closed as he pressed his face into Scott’s palm. It had been so long since they’d touched that his face crumpled up as he began to cry.
Scott wiped the tears away with his thumb, his fears of what was to come vanishing. “Hey, no hurt.”
Zachariah opened his eyes and smiled. “No hurt.”
Scotty grabbed the back of his head and pulled him in for a kiss. As their lips touched, and as they melted into each other’s embrace, there was a brilliant flash of white light and they were gone. Slowly, the car Scotty had driven all these years as he looked for Zachariah disappeared.
Harvey, angrily stepped away from his wife’s embrace and started back toward the opened door of his truck but he halted in his steps when a voice rang out from the darkness.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
His wife shrieked as several crows, once perched on the fence, suddenly vanished and in their place sat a blonde woman. Her long cornsilk tresses framed her beautiful face.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Don’t you know me?”
Harvey looked back and forth between his wife and the newcomer. The woman rolled her eyes, jumping down from the fence.
“You shouldn’t summon a goddess and not expect her to show up. My name is Rhiannon. I’ve been here the whole time. Who do you think kept their souls here till they could find each other again?”
Harvey was terrified. “What do you want?”
The woman shrugged. “I was once falsely accused of something I didn’t do and was made to carry the burden on my shoulders for years, until someone figured out the story was wrong. Even in death, you wouldn’t let the soul of your son be at rest. I don’t think you should get away with that.”
“Harvey!” June cried as she reached for her husband.
“I think it’s only fair that the favor be returned.”
Harvey felt a white hot pain pierce him through the chest. As he felt himself dying and the last thing he whispered before his heart stopped was, “Oh my God.”
As their bodies vanished, two T’s appeared in the farmer’s field beyond the gate. Under the light of the full moon hung two scarecrows with burlap sacks where faces once were. Rhiannon stood with her hands on her hips as she looked at her handiwork. Throwing her head back with a
chilling laugh, she burst into a murder of crows and took to the sky. Just as quickly as she appeared, she was gone. All that remained were headlights, casting their yellow glow on two scarecrows, the sound of their cries ringing like a bell through the night.
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