I'm no crow, I'm only a field toad!

Prompt: The crow and the toad. Inspired by Aesop.

Caine brought in fresh cut wood, fastened into five-foot by five-foot crates. At the open end of the box, he fastened a tunnel of chicken wire that funneled into the belly of the box. He held three of the contraptions as he trudged past me across the watered dirt seed and into the corn.

“Say Caine, old boy, what are you doing with those finely crafted items?” I said.

Caine stopped before the stocks and offered a wide-eyed smile; crusted with golden germ. “Gonna catch me some Crow son,” he said. “I set one last night. I wanted to set out first thing.”

“Catching crows?” I said. I scratched my rough cheek and spit. “Do those things work?”

“I’m about to find out,” Caine said. Then he was gone into the corn.

I was entirely intrigued by this, and without thinking how hot the mistress would burn about it, I followed the old man in. And God as my witness, I tell you you truth now, all of it, so do not question me on it.

Caine struggled in the stiff plant and thrice nearly dashed his traps on the ground. After the length of a football field, we came to a ten foot clearing in the crop. In the center stood a stuffed man of straw. Something Caine erected years ago. On the flattened earth I saw the first trap that Caine spoke of. The wood was darkened with moisture and nails protruded from one corner.

“There,” Caine said. He hopped and ran to the trap, dropping his load as he went. “You see, I’ve caught some!”

I kept my distance, but stood on my toes to see better. “What is it?” I said.

“My Christ.” Caine said.

“Please, sir!” I heard.

“What is that?” I said.

“Don’t kill me sir!” It said again. “I’m no crow, I’m only a field toad!”

I ran to Caine’s side and immediately spotted the dark blood that stained the cage and the the black feathers and lifeless form of a single crow dispatched by Caine. Then I looked to his hands. And there I saw a brown toad as big as an orange. The creature was opening and closing it’s beak and making faint gasps.

“I am harmless,” the toad said.

“Then why are you caught here with this criminal?” Caine said. He gestured to the dead crow with his knife-point.

“I am on a great journey!” The toad said. “Please sir, I am harmless.”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t make a noise to stall Caine. He drove his blade into the toad and it growled against its death.

“Oh my God, Caine,” I said. “What have you done?”

“Protected the corn my boy,” Caine said, wiping the knife against his boot. “Protecting the corn.”






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