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    Musing: Hawk Mafia

    The incident between Landon and our feathered friend wasn’t our first encounter with the Hawk Mafia. The birds of prey believe all rodents and small animals in the yard are fair targets. Many a morning, we watched a hawk swoop down and snatch a vole or rabbit for breakfast.

    The dogs don’t disagree with such tasty snacks, but do debate who gets to target them.

    I wasn’t surprised when the dispute broke out shortly after sunrise the other morning. Landon busied himself handling canine duties in the yard, while a hawk perched in a nearby tree. To express his displeasure about the rude interruption of prime breakfast hunting time, the hawk screeched—a high-pitched shriek of disdain.

    Landon marched to the fence, looked up at the noisy neighbor, and replied.

    Landon’s usual woos and warbles emerge in a melodic tenor, but his vocal range is wide. He can sing bass or alto with ease. That morning, though, he went full soprano. And beyond.

    Apparently, Landon is multilingual. In the search for the perfect retort, he spoke hawk. A full-on hawkish shriek.

    Which, of course, encouraged a noisy reply from the bird. And a follow-up taunt from my furry canine. And back and forth.

    I scream. You scream. We all scream.

    As I mentioned, the sun barely peeked above the horizon. Neighbors waking for the day probably prefer the gentle sound of songbirds, not a shrieking dog and a shrieking hawk debating territory. I told Landon to hush. The hawk flew away.

    I thought no more about it. Until Sunday morning dawned.

    Or, more accurately, it didn’t. Daylight Saving Time hit. My 5 a.m. wake up was decidedly darker. I climbed out of bed and sleepily stumbled to the kitchen for my morning coffee.

    Only, it wasn’t ready. My preparations for the change in clocks failed an important task. I hadn’t advanced the clock on the coffeemaker. No magical elixir waited for me.

    I tapped the brew button and waited. Fifteen minutes would have to pass before my morning fix was ready. I know, First World Problem, but a critical one.

    A still bigger issue appeared. More precisely, two of them. Typhoon and Frankie, my senior canines, pranced by the backdoor, ready for the morning turnout.

    The younger dogs, including the hawk-arguing Landon, remained asleep. Rascals.

    I wanted that first sip of coffee before venturing into the yard, but I didn’t dare deny the demands of senior canine bladders. I would rather not mop a floor.

    Uncaffeinated, I grabbed my trusty flashlight and stepped out into the backyard. Alone.

    A quick aside for those who haven’t followed the tales of my tails over the years. Typhoon, in his dozen years on earth, has chased down far more than his quota of rabbits. In his younger years, his speed, his quickness of paw, and his agility caused the death of more bunnies than I want to admit. Or can count. He considered it his personal mission to control the size of the rabbit population.

    In the middle of too many nights, I negotiated the release of a rabbit carcass from his canine jaws. As nasty as that was, it paled compared to the digestive disaster that followed if he consumed his catch.

    Wanting to avoid such unpleasantries, I acquired one of the brightest flashlights manufactured and began searching the yard before the dog release. Such a habit persists despite the passing of time and slowing pace of my mighty hunter.

    Good thing I took such an effort. My light illuminated a rabbit in the yard that would have been just the proper speed to be caught by the aging Typhoon. He was missing vital parts to make an escape. Notably, his head and front feet were nowhere to be found.

    Thanks to the change in clocks, I was short an hour of sleep, missing my first cup of coffee, and still in the night’s gloom, so I’ll admit it took a few seconds to absorb what I was seeing. My foggy mind couldn’t figure out how a dead rabbit—or, more accurately, half a dead rabbit—ended up inside my fenced backyard. He wasn’t there when we all went to bed, so the dogs weren’t involved in his demise. What animal would go to the effort to catch a rabbit, but leave it—or, at least, most of it—behind?

    I didn’t have an opportunity to sleuth the solution. A glance toward the house showed a pair of dogs staring at me from the kitchen door. Based on the prancing of paws, release of the built-up pressure was imminent. Inside or outside was up to me.

    I couldn’t just let them out. They wouldn’t question the overnight appearance of such a gruesome present. The resulting scene would be ugly.

    But so would picking up a dead rabbit with my bare hands. Specifically, half a dead rabbit, which just made things messier.

    Taking the time to retrieve a pair of gloves would cause a cleanup inside the kitchen.

    With a pair of leashes, I escorted two confused but contained canines to the opposite side of the yard and let them produce their morning showers. With their tasks complete, I escorted those same two canines back inside without giving them time to explore the yard. Miffed, but back in the house without blood on their fur, they settled into my office.

    I eyed the coffeepot, but knew I wanted to finish my chores before relaxing. With a pair of gloves on my hands, I returned to the yard for cleanup duty. I gave the deceased a proper burial. Okay, fine, I unceremoniously flung him over the fence into the woods for scavenger consumption.

    As I turned for the house, I heard a rustling on a tree branch above my head.

    I peered into the shadows and saw the eyes of a hawk. He raised his wings in a display of power, a reply to the previous day’s interspecies discussion.

    Anyone familiar with Mario Puzo’s magnificent novel or the movie version of The Godfather will know what scene flashed through my mind. The hawk mafia wasn’t horsing around. They had left a headless corpse as a communiqué.

    Message received. I’d pass it on to Landon.

    After I got that first cup of coffee, at least. Besides, Landon was still asleep. The rascal.

    Enjoyed the Story? Try a Short Story

    Secrets, passions, and a reunion that changes everything

    Benjamin Walsh sees his wife, Nicole, walking down a city street. With her busy schedule at work, he doesn’t know how she found time to get away, but tries to catch up to say hello.

    To his surprise, she greets an old friend of hers, Eduardo Rivera. Eduardo left town two decades earlier to pursue a theatrical career in New York. What is he doing back?

    Benjamin is shocked when Eduardo and Nicole embrace. They disappear through a door together. With understanding of what is happening, Benjamin realizes he has only one choice.

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    1. Jean Burkhardt on March 10, 2024 at 3:35 pm



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