CROW, BUZZARD, MULE
I lay there quietly in front of the fireplace—warmly and cozily wrapped in my swaddling clothes—the fire crackled busily while Gramp and Aunt Vulla chatted, cackled and busily flitted about my mother’s bedside. Dr. Patterson was on his way to check on us—Mom and I—but his visit was just a formality. The real work had already been done efficiently and effectively. “Did I ever tell you how the Crow tricked the Buzzard into losing all the feathers on his head?” Aunt Vulla asked us as she and Gramp spread a recently Vulla-made quilt across mother’s bed. “Well this how it happened”, continued Aunt Vulla, not waiting for a response from Gramp, Mom, or me.
“This story, about the trickery of the crow, is from Alabama. Seems the Crow and the Buzzard were sailing around the sky one day looking for food. Both of ‘em like dead meat but the Crow likes a fresh kill and the Buzzard likes his a little more ripened. Well, they came upon a mule laying in the sun. The Crow didn’t want to approach the mule because he wasn’t sure if the mule was deceased yet. Crow knew the old Buzzard had a keen sense of smell for anything dead so he convinced the Buzzard to fly down and check out the mule to see if it was dead yet.
So, the Buzzard goes down and circles over and saw that the mule’s eyes were open, but anybody who knows anything about mules knows that that’s how they sleep, with their eyes open.” “That’s sure right now!” Gramp interrupted. “And when he dies his eyes still be open.” Aunt Vulla crowed in agreement and continued her story. “So, he goes back up and tells the Crow, ‘Well I can’t smell him but his eyes are open. I wonder if he is dead?’ Then the Buzzard went on down and lit on the mule’s back and walked up to his head, and the mule didn’t move. He walked around and tried to peck him in his eye; the mule flopped his ear and scared the Buzzard off. The Buzzard flew away—the mule still lay there.
Flapping his wings to beat the band, the old Buzzard flies back up to where the Crow was sitting, watching and waiting. The Buzzard, still breathing hard from the fright, says to the Crow, ‘He looks like he’s dead but I don’t believe he’s dead!’ Crow said, ‘That was just the wind blowing his ear. Go down and peck him again’. The Buzzard looks at the Crow like he was thinking, ‘That joker is Crazy if he thinks I’m going back down there’, but sho ‘nuff, back down there he goes. He alights on the mule’s head again, and tries to peck him in the eye again—again the mule’s ear flopped and the Buzzard took off again.
This time when he gets back up to where the Crow was watching, waiting and smirking, he says to the Crow, ‘Every time I go to peck him in the eye he flops his ear.’ Crow tells him, ‘He can’t be asleep with his eyes open. There’s only one thing left to do.’ Buzzard wanted to know what that was. Crow told him, ‘You go down there and peck him in his ass.’ So, the Buzzard cuts on back again, alights on the mule’s side and walks on back to the rear.
The Mule had his tail laying stretched out behind him. Buzzard reared his head way back and pecked hard on the mule’s ass. This triggered the Mule’s instinct to cover his sensitive parts with his tail, but when he did that he trapped the Buzzards head in between his tail and his ass. Mule jumped up and started running around the barnyard—still had the Buzzard’s head under his tail.
The Crow flies down and sits on the high fence post, and watches and laughs. Every time the mule would pass by him, he’d squawk loudly, scaring the mule and causing him to run faster and pull his tail in tighter. The Crow hollers until the mule run himself to death with the Buzzards head under his tail and everyone knows when an animal or a human dies, its muscles spasm. The Mule’s butt cheeks clinched down on the Buzzards head tighter than Dick’s hatband. Crow felt bad for Buzzard so he went down and pulled on Buzzards legs until his head popped out the Mule’s ass, but when it popped out, all of the feathers stay in the Mule. Since that day, Buzzards ain’t had no feathers on they head. Well, the Crow crew with laughter while he feasted on fresh mule, ‘cause you remember I said he likes fresh meat. Buzzard went away to sulk, but returned when the mule was ripe.”
With that, Aunt Vulla ended her hilarious story. Gramp crowed, Mom crowed and I crew. Dr. Patterson walked in during the ruckus and stood at the door for a long moment, scratching his bald head and looking bollixed; very bollixed indeed!
Author’s Note: As I rub my bald pate and contemplate that date in ‘61—in my mind’s eye I spy the little bald-headed “I”, laying there on the home’s hearth stone. I realize and cannot forget that I started with nothing and I still have most of it.