This short story was inspired by something I see every day, most times that I leave the house in daylight.
I should introduce myself. I am reasonably tall, dark and (according to my wife!) handsome. My wife and I have been together for a couple of years now, and we live in a small place in the suburbs of the big city. It’s not much, but it was a self-build project (I’m handy like that) and the wife has made it cosy and inviting inside. I always look forward to getting home at the end of a long day. Up with the lark, that’s me, and then out for most of the day. You know, the original ‘hunter-gatherer’ type, working hard all day to provide for the family. It feels like I’m on the go all day, just trying to keep the family fed, although of course my wife does her bit as well. She’s a bit tied up at the moment – we’re expecting additions to the family, you see, so she’s home more often than not now. I’m definitely a family man, and I’d do anything to protect the clan, and the home. And that’s what led me to tell you a little of our story.
Our home is cheek by jowl with this block of flats. The people who live there are quiet though, and don’t bother us. Actually, they have helped us out in the past when times have been a bit hard, by giving us food fairly regularly. We’re really grateful for that, it’s helped us get through many a fallow time. Everything was fine until a few months ago. I was out and about, conducting my normal daily business (as you do) when I noticed this fellow in one of the flats giving me the evil eye. I thought I’d have a second look, and would you know it! As I went nearer, he came right at me! I backed off and thought about this for a bit (whilst keeping the flat in sight – it was a bit near to home to be letting him completely out of my sight). I decided to go up to the window, quietly, and see if he was still around. Maybe I’d been mistaken. I might have imagined it. You know how it is when you have a million other things on your mind, especially with a new arrival expected any day. I slid past the flat, and there he was! Mirroring my movements, from the inside of the flat, it really shook me. I didn’t want to tell the wife, as she has enough on her plate, but I really needed to sort this bloke out. He looked a bit like me – a decent size, and dark too, but far more sinister if truth be told.
I couldn’t have this bloke, whoever he was, threatening the wife and family home, so I decided my only option was to pluck up the courage and chase him off. It might turn a bit nasty, I thought, but if he was like most of the other bullies I’ve come across, he’d be scared off pretty quickly. So I stood still for a bit, the flat in my sights and talked the talk to myself. Then, I flew at the place I’d seen this threatening looking bloke, and gave him my best shot. But blow me, he came straight back at me and hit me just as I threw one at him. Again and again I gave it to him, and each time he retaliated at the exact same moment. I kept it up for a while, but after a bit my head was hurting, my muscles were tired and, if I’m honest, my ego was bruised. I limped away, vowing that I’d be back and I’d beat him next time.
I’ve been back every day since then, and every day we’ve been even. Out of the corner of my eye I notice that he retreats at the exact same time I do, and when I’m a little distance away from the flats I can’t even see him. But he is always there when I arrive. I can’t worry the wife, this is a man’s work and though I might not be the brightest bulb in the box, I’m damned if I will give up my responsibility for protecting me and mine. It’s a tiring situation, but I’m determined not to give in, so I’ll be back. And I’ll keep going back every day until that big, smug, vicious thing leaves for good.
I forgot, I didn’t tell you my name. How rude of me. I’m Mr Crow, and the wife and I live in the birch tree by this block of flats. Third nest from the top left. But I’d appreciate it if you’d wait a while before visiting, or at least give us some notice, as we’re expecting the chicks to hatch any day now.