Down a narrow dusty road far out into the country there lived a farmer named Mr. John Tidwell.
He was a heavy set man who raised various animals on his farm. He had chickens, ducks, pigs, horses, cows and several turkeys. Every morning just before daybreak Mr. Tidwell greeted the new day with a fresh pair of blue and white stripped overalls. As he sipped on his mug sized cup of coffee he scrambled four brown eggs and fried a large slice of ham. Every morning began the same way it had for forty years.
Once Mr. Tidwell’s’ belly was filled he headed straight to the barn to feed the animals and milk the cows. He took the freshly laid eggs into the kitchen and put them in a bright red straw basket Mrs. Tidwell kept them in. He left the bucket of milk inside the refrigerator next to a blue jar of bread and butter pickles Mrs. Tidwell had made. She would strain the milk and get it ready for lunch and dinner.
It was on this little farm far out into the countryside that a yard full of turkeys lived. A tall wired fence surrounded them making sure they stayed in the yard and not wandering around in the cotton fields surrounding Mr. Tidwell’s property. There was Holly, Polly, Dolly and Molly all females. With names like these one would surely know these were indeed female names. Then of course there was Larry, Barry, Jerry, and Harry the male turkeys. Mr. Tidwell had been careful to name the turkeys with names that sounded alike. This way when he called one, they all came running. Day in and day out the sound of the turkeys gobbling could be heard for a long distance.
“John you need to be thinking about getting a turkey singled out so we can have him for Thanksgiving. It’s only a few more days and I want him kept in the wooden crate for a while. This year we will have all the children and grandchildren.” She smiled but her eyes sent him a message of urgency.
“I know! I’m thinking about one of the males. We really don’t need four males you know? Perhaps I will catch ole Harry but lord I just hate getting pecked by him. He still has some wild bird in him I am afraid.” He stood to his feet and sipped the last few sips of coffee from his tall brown mug. “Yes sir I suppose I need to get on the ball around here. There’s no one to help me so I guess I’ll get pecked half to death before I can corral one of those mystic birds.” He said as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
“Coffee makes me sweat like a pig.” He commented as he crammed his bandanna handkerchief into his back pocket.
It was a day to be remembered at the Tidwell farm.
“I’ll be back in about noon time. I have to put new shoes on the horses and feed the chickens. I have gotten behind this week. No rest for the weary”. He signed.
So it came to be that the turkeys heard about Thanksgiving and wanted nothing to do with the great day.
“I’m going to run away tonight!” Barry the Turkey spoke in a soft voice. “I will not give up my life to be eaten by strangers. I know my ancestors would want me to be more than just a meal. I’m going to college so keep your eyes open. I need you all to create a diversion. He gasped.
“Sakes alive!” Polly blurted out as she rolled her big eyes back and forth. “You are not smart enough to go to college.
She lifted her chin sending forth a message of disbelief to all that might be watching in the barnyard.
“Well I’m not going to school but I am going to fly out of here. I reckon I can run as far as I can and then hide under the cover of darkness. No one will think to look in the dark woods tonight for a turkey.” He winked his eye in the direction of the other females.
“Yes, I’m sure you will go and hide you coward. If we have to stay here and watch this horrible display of violence then you all should too. People need to play fairly! Always play fairly!” Molly ranted loudly.”
“You could be captured by a fox and eaten boy. Did you ever think of that?” Polly asked.
“Well I am going to gobble as loud as I can to protest all of this violence. No bird needs to have to give up his life just for a special day for a few people. It sounds utterly preposterous. So beginning right now I am going to start letting folks know about our horrible plight.” Larry screamed.
Immediately the air was filled with a ear bursting series of gobbles. Hour after hour the loud noise continued.
“What in the sand hills is wrong with that turkey?” Mrs. Tidwell called from the back porch. She had been sweeping off the steps and heard the awesome screaming.
“I don’t know what is wrong with that fool turkey. He must be sick or something. I guess that means I won’t eat him on Thanksgiving!” Mr. Tidwell answered as he turned quickly to notice the birds head stretched upward into the air.
The treacherous sound rang from pillar to post as Larry continued his gobbled announcement.
As the sun began to lower in the sky ending another day Mr. Tidwell gathered the items he would use to killing the Thanksgiving bird. Suddenly he turned around as if someone had poked him on the shoulder.
“My word I guess ole Larry made someone mad out there in the pen. He has finally stopped screaming those horrible gobbles. “He said out loud as he began walking towards the pen.
“Oh God here he comes!” Jerry cried as he scrambled to get to the back of the pen. “My legs are getting weak and my nerves are a total wreck.” He continued.
“What is wrong with Larry?” Dolly asked. “He has stopped gobbling.” She questioned.
“I think he must have lost his gobble.” Holly stammered.
Sure enough Larry was trying to sound his alarm but nothing was coming out. His voice was gone and he could no longer say a word. His gobble had been silenced by an invisible force.
Larry stood there trembling as Mr. Tidwell approached the pen.
“Oh, I just can’t watch this.” The cow mooed.
Mr. Tidwell reached out his big arm and seized the neck of a bird. There was a frantic squawking sound. Feathers large and small filled the air. It was over. Silence fell across the barnyard. The cows stopped mooing, the horses stopped neighing, the chickens stopped cackling and the pigs stopped their oinks.
Mr. Tidwell began pulling feathers from a lifeless turkey’s body. Everyone watched as their friend’s body lay limp upon the picnic table. Holly would no longer nestle with her friends on the cold winter’s nights or gobble at the break of day. Another Thanksgiving sacrifice had been made by and innocent victim.
Question: Why did Larry’s voice stop?
Story written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved