Druff and Loco were perched on the branches of two different trees ruminating over the taste of the same meal. They were within three flaps away of each other, indulging in posturing and idle banter until the memory of the human child’s flesh returned, and the tone of their exchange took a different course.

“It was very fortunate,” said Druff, “that the adult who killed her was lazy in his handiwork.”

“Indeed,” said Loco as he pecked on a skittering ant on his oak, “We can’t compete with Dog’s ability to dig.”

“Or the worms,” added Druff mordantly. “No doubt they’re picking her tiny, undeveloped bones clean right now.”

“At least Dog won’t get any,” said Loco. “The oh-so-juiciness of fear was a great indicator of its freshness. It’s a subtlety you sadly can’t taste in bones.”

Down in the bramble amidst the forest floor, any mammal would have barely registered the two birds’ voices, much less been able to distinguish them. An audiograph of their dialogue would have revealed that the variations in their speech were as characteristic and idiosyncratic as the chittering of dolphins.

“Be that as it may, Loco,” said Druff, “humans have proven time and time again to be our most delectable of meals.”

“And you are going to ask next my opinion of why this is so, are you, Druff?”

The precision of Loco’s beak failed him as an ant disappeared safely into the vein of the bark. Someone versed in avian emotional intelligence would have been able to discern within that microcosm of a second Loco’s expression of frustration. The quick enlargement of the pupils from pin to slits. The contemptuous twist of the beak into disgust. He was the slightly bigger bird of the two.

“My charming friend,” said Druff, “Your wisdom is deep and foresight far. Forgive me as I repeat the question: why do you think two-leggers taste so good?”

He held his posture and fixed his stare at Loco, emanating the very picture of calm and quiet danger. His tone was amiable, expressing genuine curiosity and inviting honest discourse. His gaze said that if he was not given a response, that the blackness within would somehow dart out of their sockets, revealing a savagery thought vestigial and forgotten.

“Besides that chemical known as ‘fear,’” said Loco, “I wouldn’t venture any further guesses until I have obtained enough energy from the next meal.”

It was a polite response. It would have ended the conversation, had Druff not been so damned persistent.

“You call it ‘chemical,’” said Druff, hopping daringly onto Loco’s branch, “but that elusive ‘fear,’ you can argue, is prevalent in nearly all the leftovers we’ve consumed. I dare not say that fox or deer taste like man.”

Loco watched Druff from the corner of his eye. His beak pointed dutifully downwards, as if he was piercing the topography in scanning for the next morsel, but his mind focused on the buzzard sharing his branch.

“After consideration, I must admit,” said Loco, “that fox and deer definitely cannot compare to man. In taste, may I add.”

“Do cheer up, friend,” said Druff, exhilarated by what he felt was a mini-victory. “Follow me.” Druff’s figure spread to its full wingspan before Loco was aware of what was happening.

The crow raced North. The manner of his flight encouraged zero delay, as if Druff meant to leave him behind. To Loco, it signified the purposefulness of a bird who has found food, and he too lifted off the branch with a spring.

The deciduous topography passed them at fifty miles per hour. Before long, the flashing red and blue lights from the highway cut through the olive, copper-toned forest like a fence. The crows circled the policemen; a little closer and they could almost hear how loudly the car’s door slammed as they observed a young man storm out into the freeway. His air was youthful, confident, and righteous. This was the detective assigned to the case.

“It is because of men like him,” said Druff, “that we no longer have such amazing meals.” Then he ceased circling and resumed North, and his companion followed.

Loco landed on a young willow whose branches were tangled in Druff’s willow like matted hair. The two crows nested in the crown nexuses of where the newest limbs sprouted, still within earshot of one another.

An old, decrepit RV whose appearance was not too different from that of a mossy tombstone enjoyed the shade cast by these two trees. At their roots flowed a gentle stream which faced the back doors of the vehicle.

“There’s no need to be so uptight about property,” said Druff. “Come perch by my branch.”

“I beg your pardon,” said Loco, “but I am fine observing here.”

A plastic, makeshift clothesline stretched betwixt the two saplings. The human’s grey T-shirt and khaki shorts were already washed of blood underneath the willows, next to the smokeless fire that dangerously tickled the drapery of leaves.

They waited and nothing happened. Loco suffered the slow death of his patience as the embers of his irritation began to flicker.

“Druff, why did you bring me here?”

Just then, the door to the RV opened. The human had no shirt on and sported a burgeoning potbelly that sloshed like a wet water balloon as he walked down the steps of the vehicle. The absence of the hat revealed a crown of perfectly fuzzy hair. In one hand he balanced a mug, and a toothbrush dangled out of his mouth.

“It is because we no longer have men like him,” said Druff, “that we no longer have such amazing meals.”

“You brought me here,” said Loco, voice rising, “to give me another unsolicited lecture?”

“Forgive me for leaving you in the dark, old friend,” said Druff in the most disarming tone possible, “but what can be begotten from this journey will be far more rewarding than even the fattest of elks or the sweetest of roadkill.”

Loco caught himself mid-squawk. Although he would not admit it, the assurance had gripped his attention.

“If this endeavor can fill the pit in my gizzard, I’ll listen.”

“Nay,” said Druff, “not ‘listen!’ We shall talk freely, and exchange lore. For is it not during times of hardship do we carrion feeders derive sustainment from glorious memories of ancient smorgasbord and hoary decadence?” Beneath them, the man swished water from his mug and spat into the stream.

“The ‘collective nourishment,’” said Loco, the words coming out tentatively and pensive, as if it were a religion long ago forsaken. “Very well, I’ll start.

“I would say that the last festival was enjoyed by my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather to the fifth power, and that was in Hawaii, 1941. There were scores of bleeding, fresh humans on land and sea. Slightly salty and smoky from gunpowder and seawater, but it was most enjoyable.” Though unable to drool, Loco had crooned the words as if he was experiencing the afterglow of the buffet from that very year himself.

“You had to eat amongst gulls,” said Druff, making no effort to hide his disdain. “Why, my forefathers ate amongst lions.

“It was the final years of the first Great War. My forefathers fancied a field of flowers had sprung in the veldt from the aftermath of the clash between Turkish and Arab forces. Both were equally exquisite, I can assure you.”

“Swamps, jungles, deserts,” said Loco, not to be outdone, “my ancestors were not picky with their food nor the ambiance. Their craving did not preclude the steppes, so long a meal permitted it. I need not tell you how difficult it was to come across the dead and unburied in the least densely-populated region in the world. Thus did my ancestors enjoy the nearly frozen but abundant slain from a besieged settlement.”

Loco stared dreamily down at the human but did not register him kneeling and washing his porcine face, breathing in husky gasps as the cold creek water splashed against his eyes and dripped down his folds of skin.

“That annihilated tribe could have developed long enough to have their own written language,” continued Loco, “had the Mongols not discovered them first. Now we can only remember their flavor, and not their name.”

“If we are venturing this early into antiquity,” said Druff, “forgive me for my flamboyant remembrance of aged blood and bones. I do not contend with your argument of unwritten language and your lack of proof for that extinct tribe, so it is only fitting that I recount the, dare-I-say, mythical taste of Trojans. It would be fair to say that our joyous abandon was shared by the bloodthirsty Greeks, whose generous, colossal barbecue that night knew no end.”

As the crimson sun sank ever lower, the birds lost themselves in their reliving of the ancestral appetite. The man enjoyed a dinner of smoked bacon and beer next to the fire while the two crows above him exchanged their boastful parley with fervor. Druff and Loco became conscious that their collective narrative was yearning for the gentle closure of similarity: the common feast from which the family tree deviated, where one crow went hither and the other thither.

They settled on Constantinople, thirteen centuries anno Domini, as the epoch of the glorious conjoining of their families’ palates. Both could agree that it was as if heaven had befell Earth. Where humans dreamt of roads paved with gold, never let it be said that crows would not humbly settle for streets of meat. One could wake up, might as well sleep next to your meal. Truly, it had seemed as if no crow would ever starve again. Nor would any vermin, insect, vulture, wolf, or any other carrion feeder need to suffer the brutal pains of competition or scarcity again, even (groan) dog.

The t-shirt and pants were put on again. Loco was in the middle of recalling the delicacy of aristocratic meat when the man began hauling buckets of water to extinguish his fire.

“I beg with all my heart for you to forgive me,” said Druff, “but now is the right moment for us to act.”

Loco’s beak dropped in open bafflement.

“‘Act?’” parroted Loco. “Why, all this time I had thought that your plan was to merely follow this two-legger and reap the benefits of his nature.”

“Oh, Loco,” laughed Druff. “You think I’d bring us all the way here so that we can clean up after his drudgery like dog?”

Loco’s eyes widened, aghast, but it was too late to stop him. Druff had already landed on top of the clothesline, which the human was about to untie.

“Salutations,” said Druff. “Do not be alarmed.”

The human froze his fingers from the knot, as if caught stealing decorations from a Christmas tree. There was a long pause as he pinched his snout; his eyebrows connected in mean scrutiny.

Almost immediately, a second crow joined the one perched on the makeshift clothesline.

“Greetings,” said this one. Perhaps he was going crazy, but did it speak in a sulking tone of voice to him?

“The name is Druff,” the first one said. “My friend here is Loco.”

“I only had three cans o’ beer,” protested the human. “Why are you crows talking to me?”

“’Tis not imagination, hallucination, nor inebriation that is responsible,” said Loco. “We crows have known speech since the dawn of time.”

“But why,” said the human in sudden good humor, “do you guys just reveal that you can talk to us now?” Loco seemed at quite a loss to the posing of this question.

“No one ever asked,” said Druff.

Both Loco and the human grunted an affirmative “huh,” after which the two regarded each other in fascination.

“There is no time to waste,” said Druff. “Inbound about twenty-nine kilometers from here are state troopers hot on your trail, eager to sequester you into the hands of their judicial system.”

“That’s eighteen miles,” said Loco helpfully.

They waited for comprehension to dawn upon the human, when upon the advent of understanding he cursed loudly and threw a tantrum that nearly shook the two crows off the clothesline from the vibration.

“Wait,” he said, calming down, “how do I know you guys ain’t trickin’ me?”

“We had partaken of your most recent game,” said Druff, not missing a beat, “for which we owe you our gratitude.

“A real chef d’oeuvre, it was,” chimed in Loco.

At the mention of his murdering the little girl, the human’s eyes bulged in frightful alarm, swiveling his neck and taking in his surroundings all at once like an owl. Nothing but trees and the stars.

“I don’t hear nuthin,’” he squealed.

“I’d speculate that it’s been no shortage of months the authorities devoted into locating your…headquarters.” Loco said as he eyed the decrepit RV. “Without a doubt, they’ve taken great care to make sure that they do not frighten you away.”

“They’ve silenced the sirens and killed their engines,” said Druff. “They make their way here on foot now…”

“…to catch you by surprise,” finished Loco triumphantly. The human jolted three feet into the air. He disappeared into the RV with superhuman speed. Without delay, he rushed outside, wearing thick winter clothing and wielding his favorite machete.

“I can’t drive the thing,” he said, his voice on the edge of despair. “I never bothered to refuel it. Christ, where do I run?”

“Follow us,” said Druff, and the two crows shot into the darkling sky indicating the Northwest.


For a good hour, the human hiked in bursts of running and plodding. After darkness immersed the forest, he heard the flapping of wings before he saw a blur of shadows descend upon him. He screamed as they gripped his shoulders.

“Quiet, two-legger,” said Loco.

“It is only us, your friends Druff and Loco.”

The man exhaled warm puffs of fog into the night in wonder, struck with the fact that it was neither dream, nor fantasy. In his heart, he could not deny the gladness at knowing that he had not been abandoned.

“You say you’re my friends,” said he. “What’s in it for you two?”

Druff could almost see the words forming on Loco’s beak:

This dense two-legger!

“As we’ve previously stated,” Druff said, “we are beholden to you for providing us a meal.”

“‘Meal’ sounds creepy,” said the man dejectedly.

“Our surveillance would prevent you from ever getting caught,” began Loco.

The man grunted.

“As your eyes in the sky, you would never get lost,” said Druff.

Another grunt.

“We can spy on the law, and they’ll always be two, no, three steps behind us,” said Druff.

“That’s true,” said the man.

“And you’ll be unstoppable,” said Loco.


“Unstoppable,” repeated the man, beaming under the moonlight. “That’s nice.”

“Yes,” agreed Druff. “You will have many, many people to kill, and we will have many, many more meals. Isn’t that nice?”