At the age of eight he’d taken a hammer to a nest of crows.
When he came back with their blood on his clothes, his mother consoled him, saying that he didn’t know any better, that it was, perhaps, an accident, that he had learned something about life and death.
It didn’t take long for the news of the massacre to spread to the population of crows in his school playground. He had to sit out at recess, behind the glass windows, because whenever he went out the crows harassed him. School officials thought that there was a potential he could endanger the other kids. Older students who recognized him in the halls whispered and called him “The Crow Enemy”.
At home he cried and hugged his mother, and she explained that it wasn’t his fault, that he had made a mistake, that the crows didn’t hate him, they just thought he was a threat to their nests, and he wasn’t anymore, was he?
This continued for a long time.
Eventually his family moved to another town.
As their old house receded in the car window, the boy looked anxiously around him, hoping not to see any crows. He kept imagining that they’d swoop down by the windows, peck at the glass, the doorhandles. That they wouldn’t let him leave. At the town limits, he got so overwhelmed that he hid his face and went to sleep.
He remembered taking the hammer to the bodies of the little peeping crows. How their squat flesh surrendered to the head. He’d planned to only do one, but their shrill cries unsettled him, and in a flurry he killed them all. He had beaten off the mother too, but other crows had raised the alarm and chased him back to the house.
He wasn’t bothered in the new town. In time he forgot his caution and his fear. It was only at night, when his mother tucked him in, that he was reminded of how they had moved to save him from the crows.