HUMAN TRAGEDY

For some years now, my two grandsons have enjoyed the company of their pet turkey, a handsome gobbler named Herky. Having grown up with the boys, the turkey has become a family member of high standing, often exhibiting human qualities. Training the bird was a natural process, and Herky quickly adapted to his human siblings and grew to mirror their actions.

Herky would come when called, always gobbling a brief reply. In addition to posing proudly for family photos, the bird often joined in games with the boys. He could field a ground ball or jump up for a pass, grasping the ball in his feathered wings. Uncanny as it may seem, Herky possessed human qualities. His emotions could be seen to reflect the mood of those around him. Up when happy, down when sad, Herky the turkey was friend and family, as if he were indeed of my daughter's womb.

In the spring, nature sometimes summons up the male of the species to perform certain rites. Innocently Herky was called to help facilitate God's divine plan, and to go forth and multiply. He left on Good Friday, never to return.

Troubling news has broken that a proud bird, of similar description to Herky, was struck down this weekend by a hunter's bullet. Early reports indicate that Joe Crane, one known to exhibit a level of hunting skill sufficiently low to fuel my suspicions, shot and killed the bird after summoning the beast with a mating call. The puzzled bird stood motionless as he sought the source of the Sirens’ Call.  Crazed by the moment, trembling and sweating as the bird stood proudly before him, Crane lacked the power to resist as he squeezed his finger about the trigger. Then it was over, and both hunter and bird slumped into lifeless repose. Crane's faintness, however, was only temporary, as he was merely spent by the climactic fervor of the kill. He would rise again to stalk another prey.

The turkey was unarmed, and will not rise again.

Upon hearing the news, my grandsons immediately responded to the coincidence of Herky's straying, and the slain bird. Knowing that Herky would report when called, posing innocently as would a child, they concluded that he became the victim of his innocence.

Angry and vengeful, they set upon the town in a fit of rage. They set fire to stores and automobiles, ransacked and looted stores, and were subsequently arrested. Police have established a curfew in their neighborhood in an effort to restore order.

The chaos quelled, the boys are back in the custody of their mother, but the scars of the wanton killing are scored deeply into their souls. Though it cannot be proven that it was indeed Herky that fell to Crane's weapon, that nagging innuendo pervades their every thought. No peace will they find until they have settled the score with Joe Crane. Though I have taught them that revenge is not man's burden, it is obvious that these lessons have given way to the overwhelming emotion of their loss. They will, I fear, seek closure by act in kind. Moreover I fear, too, that my friend Crane will suffer a gobbler's fate.

Please take this as my call to all men to lay down their arms and reside ever peaceful in the union of nature and mankind. How 'bout spinach souffle and soy balls on Thanksgiving?