From the book Free Pecan Pie and other Chick Stories
Amazon-Paperback and Kindle. Purchase or read on Kindleunlimited.
Janelle Meraz Hooper
The following story is among the holiday short stories that are published in my Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories mixed genre book. Illustration is not in the book. I added it just for fun!
Paperback, $12.95 USD, Kindle, $1.99 USD
Sanyo and Hatchet
Sanyo was warned not to make eye contact with the big black jungle crows that roamed the streets of downtown Tokyo. They were not ordinary crows, but huge birds with wingspans of over three feet who flew in large intimidating gangs, tipped over garbage cans, and viciously attacked people they didn’t like who made direct eye contact with them. Hostile and vindictive, the mean-tempered birds were said to never forget a face.
Sanyo, six-years-old, didn’t believe the warnings. They were just birds. From her upstairs bedroom window on the top floor of a deluxe, high-rise condominium, she watched them as they cawed and chased passersby on the busy Tokyo street below. She didn’t think the birds were dangerous, just bad mannered.
One day, Neko, Sanyo’s nanny, put a tray of tea and cookies on Sanyo’s play table and softly closed the door behind her. The young child had dressed herself in her best ceremonial kimono, hoping to have tea with her mother. Sadly, she realized she again would have afternoon tea alone in her bedroom; her mother was still at the office. As she had so many times before, Sanyo lined up all of her beautiful dolls at her tea table and poured tea into tiny china cups. She would have tea with her friends. Her only friends. Neko wouldn’t let her play with the other children in the condominium. It was easier to just keep her in her room.
Uneasy, Sanyo looked up to see one of the crows on her windowsill. Surprised at how large the bird looked close-up, she forgot the warnings from her parents and made direct eye contact with him. The bird stared back. Sanyo thought he must want the cookie, so she opened the window just wide enough to stick it out. The crow rudely yanked the snack out of her hand and swallowed it whole, then forced his way into her room.
Angry and jealous that Sanyo had so many beautiful things, he flew right for her beloved dolls. With a methodical hatefulness, he marched over their laps and plucked the eyes from each one. Each time he moved to a new doll, he looked back at the stunned child who stood paralyzed with fear on the other side of the room. When there were no eyes left to pluck, the crow made a swing past Sanyo’s face and stabbed his hatchet beak toward her eyes. It was a warning: Sanyo had better not ever cross him. He departed through the still open window with a string of caws that ricocheted between the buildings and shot down the street. The other crows answered its call, and soon the sky was black with the crow and its friends. Sanyo ran to her dolls, but there was nothing to be done. The bird’s beak had crushed each eyeball into powder.
The next day, Hatchet, as Sanyo had begun to call him, was back on the windowsill. The small child, alone again, turned her back to him as she served tea to her dolls and nervously ate her cookie. The crow became more and more angry and threatening as he cawed. Sanyo was too terrified to look at the bird. As Hatchet repeatedly stabbed at the glass with his giant bill, she quietly served her sightless dolls another cup of tea.
To make sure the crow never got into the house again, Sanyo got up before the sun rose each day and rushed around the house to make sure all of the windows were shut tight and locked. She was on her own; both of her parents worked, and they were tired when they got home at night. She knew they’d have no patience to listen to her story about Hatchet. Her nanny, who was also the cook, kept to her kitchen most of the time. She had scant interest in Sanyo when she was happy. She’d have even less interest in Sanyo if she had a problem.
Then, one day, Sanyo had to go downstairs for her cookies and tea. Neko halfheartedly apologized for not bringing it up to her, and said she was busy making a special meal for her parents who had been working very hard. The table was so heavily laden with platters full of all kinds of noodles, rice dishes, sushi, intricately cut vegetables, and exotic fruits that Sanyo couldn’t see the countertop.
Too late, she noticed a high window above the cabinets whose curtains blew in the breeze. Neko had opened the window! Sanyo ran for the long crank that was used to shut it, but she was too late. Hatchet flew in with a loud caw and landed on the kitchen counter right on top of the platter of fancy sushi. Neko dropped her knife, screamed, and ran from the kitchen with her arms flailing. She never so much as looked back at Sanyo, who sat frozen in her chair.
As the crow stomped over the elaborate dishes with his grimy, gnarled feet, he never took his eyes off Sanyo’s cookie. Sanyo was so frightened she lost her grip on the treat and it rolled over to the edge of the big double sink and fell in. Caught up in the chase, the crow flew after it, his big black claws slid around on the shiny sink interior as he tried in vain to catch the rolling cookie. Hatchet didn’t stop his pursuit when the cookie spun and slid into the garbage disposal. He barely paused before he stretched out his long neck and went right into the disposal after it. Sanyo saw her chance. With lightning speed, she reached over and flipped on the switch to the appliance. Her eyes widened when she heard one surprised shriek as the blades ground the crow’s beak into a fine powder not unlike her dolls’ eyes. When the giant bird was finally able to withdraw his body and flap headless around the kitchen, he spewed blood, guts, and loose feathers all over Neko’s special dinner.
Sanyo was about to hop down from her chair and run to her room when something in the sink caught her eye. There among the blood and feathers was an egg that Hatchet had carried. She was a mother! Sanyo knew she couldn’t chance another Hatchet. She nudged the egg into the disposal with a wooden spoon and once again, flipped the switch on the wall. Now she would never have to fear another Hatchet. It was over.
Still stunned, she turned her back on the mess and calmly went upstairs; she left her cowardly nanny to clean up the bloody feathers and bones. Halfway up the stairs, the shock began to wear off, and a suddenly confident Sanyo went to her room to pack up her dolls in a cardboard box. Her parents would surely buy her new ones—and get her a new nanny.
When she opened the door to her room she was met with seven pairs of black eyes that stared at her from her windowsill. Eyes filled with pure hate. A cold chill ran down her back as she realized they knew.
Knew about Hatchet.
Knew about the disposal.
Knew about the egg.
By their stares she could tell that they wouldn’t rest until they got even. Sadly, Sanyo realized it was not over after all. That night, she lay sleepless in her bed and shivered with fear as she listened to the crows as they ripped through the shingles on the roof above her room.
Rrrr-ip, rrr-ip, rrr-ip…
not the end