It might have been a raven, but I don’t know the difference. One is bigger. I don’t know which. But I killed it. We were hiking in the Italian Alps, and my sister-in-law called to me, “Oh, McPhedran!”
I didn’t know why she called me – except that I post dead animals on social media – but there it was, not a dead crow but a struggling, gurgling crow. It squawked and flapped terribly, on the verge of the abyss.
“No problem,” I replied. “I will take care of it.”
Everyone in the family continued on up as I looked for a rock to bash its head in. I found a good one, the size of my fist, and realized I didn’t have to bash its head in but only had to place it over its neck and step down hard on that. Much easier and much less gory. It struggled against me. I had to replace the rock a number of times, but then I had it in place and stomped hard. And it was dead. Easy. I looked up to see two small girls – maybe ten years old – aghast. I smiled back, trying not to appear a serial killer, and flicked the dead crow down into the bushes.
“Morte,” I explained.
“Morte?” One of the them, tiny eyes wide, clarified.
“Morte,” I repeated. I continued up the hill, after my wife’s family. Done. I didn’t think about it much at the time – oh, maybe a little – but then, later, I did consider the ramifications of my actions. It was a mercy killing. That was how I saw it. But I had killed a crow. Or a raven. Whatever. The portent of bad things and all of that. No, I didn’t really think that. I conjectured vaguely or something about that. And I knew it was ridiculous. Life is life, and death is death, and there is nothing other. You live and then you die.
And then my life began to unravel. It started with my stepson, who doesn’t like me at all, snapping some nasty retort in my direction, and then me overreacting to that and retreating, feeling hunkered and stupid, hiding in my room, writing, and then arguments with my family ensued, followed by me getting overly angry. And so I would not partake in anything with them the next day. I needed to be on my own. That was the thought in my head.
And, amazingly, it was a wondrous day. I went up alone, straight up, no pausing for food or water, and found myself in an alpine meadow. I sat there, remarkably content.
And I am rarely – never – content. I sat and looked out over everything, the air and sun and sky perfect as it was – alone but for some sort of Italian Marmot squeaking for its mate, and thought I could die here. It was a weird thought that I half embraced but didn’t do that and returned to the town. I vaguely thought that I might have cleared the air in myself, and everyone else would see me as so. But it did not go as that. England were playing Italy in the European Championships, and I got too intense about that. I am used to backing a team that never wins and did that too much with the Saxons and everyone got mad at me again. I sent wildly inflammatory messages to a close English friend about the Italian squad, and those were seen by the family, and nothing went well after that.
My bag was thrown from the car, and I was told to find my own way back – which I did – and found a hotel and thought about how I should never have killed that crow – or raven – even if it was going to suffer a bit.