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15 of 52 Weeks – Bloodstained Crows

15 April 2014 No Comment

I really can’t think of anything nice or encouraging or even… well, human… today. We’ve still got snow, we’re still well below zero. Spring sprung, one day. Summer happened, one day. Then fall, and now we’re back into winter.

Instead, I’m giving you another work in progress, although this one is closer to finished than the last. I hope you enjoy, and if you’d like to leave a critique, it’d be welcome!

Bloodstained Crows
Above Wayward Gentleman

© 2014 Jodi Lee, all rights reserved

“Bradley! Yer brekkie’s goin’ cold! Get yer arse down ‘ere now!”

My aunt’s voice grated every last nerve. I’d risen with the dawn, done the chores required of me, and only came up for a bit of a wash before eating whatever scraps she’d thrown together and claim was a meal.

I descended to the kitchen slowly, taking my time, making sure to annoy her for as long as I could. I unlatched the front door as I passed, making sure to hook it open a bit before moving on. It drove her mad to think anyone could just walk in; ten kilometres from town, and she never understood folk didn’t wander about, seeking shelter or thieving from just any old house.

The woman sitting at the head of the table was not much more than skin and bones. Her husband, sitting to her right, was a monster of a man. 6’8” tall, and at least 300 pounds, Uncle Henry was the absolute opposite of Aunt Bea. Where she was so small, he was large – and that included in the heart department. She never let him forget that, either. He could snap her like a twig, one-handed, but I doubt the thought ever crossed his mind.

Across from Uncle Henry sat their precious son, Albert. More like his father than mother, thankfully, Albert was probably the closest thing I had to a friend.

The breakfast she was so worried about me spoiling was nothing more than grey lumpy oatmeal, a slice of tomato, and toast. For Aunt Bea, this was an amazing accomplishment. Usually it was warm cereal, because she always served it with fresh milk, rather than the day old stuff from the fridge.

After breakfast it was the same thing, every day. Lead the cattle to the pasture, muck out stalls. Sometimes they’d let me kill a chicken, so I supposed she’d set Albert to do it today.

“Bradley, I have a wee favor to ask ye. Could ye run inta town an’ drop off the deposit with the bank? I’d go, but we’ve a tire on the tractor needs seein’ to.” Uncle Henry’s voice was so quiet and low, I barely heard him. I hadn’t even realized he’d come up behind me.

“Of course, Uncle. I’d be glad to go. Now?”

“If ye want. Here’s a five for a bite in town, eh? Don’t tell yer Aunt Bea, she’ll throttle me. And make sure yer home for tea, yeah?”

I nodded, taking the five pounds gratefully. Trips into town were rare for me, rarer even than Albert’s or Uncle Henry’s. I always hoped he’d be up to no good, chasing a skirt or some easy money at the casino. Anything to give a bit of happiness in the man’s life.

The deposit was heavy with coin. I tossed it on the seat of the van, and listened to the jingle as they slid together in the bag.

After the bank, I visited a roadside chippy and had some truly excellent sole and chips for a snack. I watched the girl inside put potato after potato into the chipper, her shoulders graceful with every downward thrust. Her hair, bright red, was the perfect complement to her freckled skin and pretty blue eyes. Certainly not as anorexic as my aunt, this girl looked like she could eat a healthy meal. Or two. Still, I didn’t have time for making eyes at beautiful girls today, I had an errand to run.

I left all of the change I had in her tip jar, gave her a wink and a nod, and left. I’d certainly be visiting her in future. For now, my mind was on the painting I’d seen at the local fair a month ago. A dark painting, in greys, blues and black, there was a man standing in a field, looking lost and alone. Behind him in the distance was a dead tree, one that looked eerily similar to the old oak in the far pasture at home. Above the man circled a murder of crows; very realistic yet fantastical, it had taken my fancy and now with my savings in my pocket, I was going to pick it up.

The artist had it all ready for me, and didn’t even quibble when I handed him only two-thirds of the asking price. He took the money, and returned to his house, closing the door rather abruptly, interrupting my thanks.

Upon returning home, I ran into the house, up to my room and placed the painting on the wall. I’d prepared a hook specially for it, and it suited the spot perfectly. As I knew it would.

At tea, I handed Uncle Henry his deposit slip which he took, glanced at, and nodded. I finished the grey meal in a few bites, and excused myself, citing plans for the evening. Albert moaned, but I explained I wasn’t heading back into town, simply taking a quiet evening to read. This earned a scoffing huff from Aunt Bea, of course.

I didn’t care. All I wanted was to get up to my room, and look at my painting.

And I did. I watched it for so long, I ended up falling asleep.

* * *

Jude woke with a start, sweat clinging to his face and chest. He could have sworn someone was watching him, and that was the last thing he needed, right now. He shook his head, trying to shake off a horribly boring dream he’d been having. Obviously his painting was a priority, since it was the only redeeming feature of that… nightmare of normalcy.

Since he was up, he decided he may as well add some more colour to the painting he’d found. The boy on the table in the cellar was providing a lovely shade of red to tip the beaks and claws circling the man in the field.

He thought he’d call it Bloodstained Crows Above Wayward Gentleman.

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