A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Wild Turkey
by Sherrill Lewis (Sep 2013)


“Wild turkey?” asked Jeb, talking around a honking big wad of tobacco in his cheek. “Well, don’t mind if’n I do. Where’s it at?” Leather creaked as he dismounted his horse and let the reins fall to the red-dirt-packed trail.

“You got a one-track mind, Jeb. I’m talking about those dumb birds over there,” answered his neighbor, leaning on the white board fence. Behind him, a gobble of wild turkey hens were clucking around a big tom parading his finery to dazzle his harem.

“Cal, them birds are the ugliest darn things I ever seen. I’m fixin’ to shoot a few of ’em and have a big feed come Thanksgiving.”

“Pretty dang tough eatin’ if’n you don’t do it right, accordin’ to my old Ma,” Pete chipped in, climbing off his John Deere tractor to jaw a spell with his farmer neighbors. He removed his gimmee-cap and scratched his bald pate. Two fingers were missing, compliments of Desert Storm.

“Did you know that ol’ Ben Franklin, way back when America was first borned, wanted the wild turkey to be our national bird?” Pete asked his buddies.

“Well,” Jeb drawled, “I’d like to shake the hand of the man who voted him down. D’ya know who voted ‘im down?”

“Don’t recollect who. But ol’ Ben, he musta thought the turkey, so dad-blamed ugly and stupid, reflected the tenor — ya like that word, tenor?” Pete tipped a water bottle skyward, draining it. He capped the bottle and tossed it in the back of Cal’s pickup truck.

“The tenor of the politicians, more’n likely.” Jeb spat a brown stream of tobacco juice at a blowfly. “Got im!”

“Ugly and stupid,” agreed Pete. “Maybe ol’ Benjy had a point, now that I think on it a while. Considerin’ now, certain politicians gummin’ up the works back there in Washington. Past, present, and more’n likely future, too, I reckon.”

“Yep, ol’ Ben, he had a valid argument there,” said Cal, wiping the sweat off his face with a red bandanna. “Sure wish my jack-fool oldest boy hadn’t stepped into that muck.”

“He’s gotten pretty high up, ain’t he?” asked Jeb.

“Last I heard, he’s fixin’ to run for governor. Sure hope he don’t get his sights set on being president. Cain’t barely hold my head up these days without that mess a-happenin’.”

“You sure you ain’t got a bottle of Wild Turkey under the seat of your ol’ pickup?” Jeb asked Cal.


“Them New Yorkers fuss about the mess pigeons make. They should live out here when these over-sized ‘pigeons’ leave a shovelin’ mess all over my back porch.” Cal climbed up and sat on the top rail of the fence. He chuckled. “The wife pitched seven fits and fell into it the other day.”

“Oh, yeah? What happened?” asked Jeb, absentmindedly scratching his butt.

“Maybelle went out to check on the little ’un. Junior was sitting in a mess of turkey dung using it for finger paints. That big ol’ tom was struttin’ around, his tiny mind bent on impressin’ his women-folk. My Maybelle took exception to that ugly mug staring her down, so she went after ’im with the corn broom.”

Pete waved off a horsefly intent on biting a hunk out of his farmer-tanned arm. “Didn’t Maybelle play softball?”

“Yep,” said Cal, hooking his thumbs in his suspenders and puffing out his chest. “Star batter for the Okie Pokies, she was, right ’fore we got hitched. Well, now, she choked up on that there broom like it was her best bat. She let loose and let that tom have it right in the backside. Feathers went flying everywhere. Junior picked up a feather, stuck it in his diaper and scooted around on his butt making gobble noises. Watchin’ Maybelle in action was funnier than when old pickle-faced Mrs. Jones got her dress caught in the big blower fan at church last Sunday!”

The three friends slapped each other on the back and guffawed. They startled the turkeys, loudly complaining as they scuttled away.

“Well, they are good eatin’ come the holidays.” Pete licked his sun-chapped lips. “The eagle’s a raptor, fearsome and majestic. Prob’ly a better image for the grand U.S. of A. I reckon.”

“In God we trust,” answered Cal. “Even the Bible mentions eagles, but there ain’t no turkeys.”

The three men listened up as they heard the dinner triangle ring. Each one shuffled off in the respective direction of their homes.

“Nope. Ain’t even any Wild Turkey,” moaned Jeb, mounting his horse.

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