Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Entry #181

The Passing
by Patricia Agnew


Eli watched the bird tumble out of the gray Missouri sky as the sound of the rifle shot faded. He ran forward and picked up the bundle of feathers, already dulling in death.

“Pa, it’s that old passenger pigeon folks talk about livin’ in the forest back of the Dawson place.”

“Pretty good shot. He was high, movin’ fast,” the man shucked the shell out of the chamber and caught it in his hand.

Eli stroked the rosy breast feathers, then drew back his hand, realizing he could not brush the dust from the creature’s scarlet eye.

“What if there ain’t no more, Pa?”

“Then I reckon we’ll eat them little Bob Whites. Takes a lotta them to fill the pot, though.”

“Is it true there was once so many of them passenger pigeons that the sky was black when they flew over, Pa?”

“Yep. They’d fly over for hours at a time, just one flock, back in your granpappy’s day. Used to be fun to shoot up into that bunch and see how many would fall. He talked about seein’ piles as high as a man’s head.”

“How could they eat that many?”

“Well, they couldn’t. They just took what they wanted and left the rest.”

“How come they shot ‘em all, Pa? How come they didn’t keep some? Like we don’t kill all our chickens. We keep some and they make more.”

“Well, it jes don’t work that way with wild things, son.”

“How come?”

32 comments:

Aniket said...

Some questions just don't have simple answer to them...

I love dialogues and I love this. I love father-son stories that have parts of wisdom and curiosity embedded in them.
This is just perfect. Thank you for such a good read.

Laurel said...

Great glimpse into pre-extinction mentality. No way we'll run out, right?

I like the way you used the voice to orient the time, too.

Nice job.

wrath999 said...

Very nicely done

Bernita said...

"How come?"
Damn good question.

Jean Ann Williams said...

I like this story. I, too, love dialogue and you've done that well with this piece.

And to end it what such a question? Perfect!!!

Jean Ann

Preeti said...

How i loved the father-son relationship. there is such an easy camaraderie. it touched my soul.

there is something about fathers who listen to their children and interact with them in such a manner.

i LOVED this. very very much.

lena said...

I love the dialogue too. And I love that you ended this with a question. Loved the piece.

laughingwolf said...

a vivid reminder, thx patricia, but i fear it's too late for many wild critters :(

Deb Smythe said...

Great voice, spot-on dialogue. I really enjoyed this story. Thanks for sharing.

Leah said...

Really good stuff, good dialogue. I saw this sort of thing as a kid, and I wondered how people could just blow living things away like that and not care, especially when they weren't using them for food.

the walking man said...

The buffalo hunter mentality. Really an excellent piece of teaching and learning for them with eye to see.

Well done.

kashers said...

Re what the above walking man said, could also be the fisherman's mentality in many parts of the world too.

PEOPLE, PLACES, VOICES, FACES... said...

I'm not very good with conversations, Patricia, and I admire people who can write effortless dialogues.

I could hear the pitch and modulation of your characters' "voices" as they talked.

Ranee

Anne. said...

You did this piece so well.Great dialogue. A great lesson in mindless behaviour passed on from one generation to the next until one asks...why?

Crafty Green Poet said...

very well created glimpse into a particular mindset that seems all too prevalent even now.

Craig said...

Sometimes a child is able to percieve truths an adult is too blind to see. You've captured this perfectly.

Marji said...

A wise and touching scene. I love it when children ask questions that put adults to the test. Your dialogue is both realistic and lean. Thanks for a sane moment in a seeming insane world.

Kartik said...

Curiosity is never a sin. The dialogues are very realistic and bring out the child's inquisitive nature

raine said...

Don't suppose Pa had a rational answer for the kid.
Sad.
Nice dialogue!

Dolors said...

It's a good story about a child's questions--which are not always easy to answer. Well written!

K. Soles said...

Nice job. I like the innocence of the conversation. You captured the scene and delivered it withnease.

truevoid said...

read a similar entry, this one too made a fine reading. works for me!

pjd said...

Sounds like Richard Pombo. It was a happy day when he got voted out of Congress.

James R. Tomlinson said...

Nothing like shooting down the innocence of a child.

JaneyV said...

The simple truth spoken from a child. It shows the hunt-for-sport-without-considering-the-consequences mentality for what it is. Plain dumb.

Love it Patricia. Really nicely rendered.

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

Fabulous colloquial dialogue, interaction between father and son, moral-without-being-preachy - nicely, nicely done

Something I Might Tweak

I didn't understand the not brushing dust from the eye significance.

Thomas said...

Just a point of clarification, Pat. A rifle has one projectile and about a million to one chance of hitting a flying bird. A shotgun, depending on the gauge has 200-350 pellets and would have been used to shoot birds.

A very good piece none-the-less.

Sarah Laurenson said...

How come - indeed.

Great dialect and setting. Drew me in beautifully.

Aimee Laine said...

Oh, poor birds! So many question in life that one must realize for oneself. You did a great job on this!

Sharon Poppen said...

Very effective dialog in a very thought provoking piece. Most enjoyable read. Well done.

Chris Eldin said...

Reminds me of a book called "Wringer." Good job with the writing!

catvibe said...

Aerin captured my only question. This is excellent if not so so sad...