by Barbara Sheldon
A few weeks ago, Old Bob darkened my doorway just before sunrise, looking a lot unhappy—and with what looked like supper still stuck between the few teeth he had left. Knowing I serve breakfast to my flocks of refugees around this time, he was determined to catch me—fresh breath be damned, apparently.
“I believe this is yours,” he said, holding out one dead goose. “Sorry.”
I studied the one-eyed Canada and nodded. “Yep, that’s One-Eye, all right. (Goose naming. It’s a gift.) Is there something wrong with him?”
“Aside from not breathing?” he quipped. (Bob’s gift is stating the obvious.)
“Thank you, Doctor Doolittle. I mean, why don’t you want to eat him? I’m sure he’s delicious.”
He shot me a look like I’d suddenly lost my mind—which makes him the crazy one, since everyone else is convinced that happened years ago, when I turned Flyaway Farm into a wild-bird sanctuary.
“Aren’t you crushed, Sheldon? Wasn’t he one of your favorites?”
One-Eye was special to me. Four years ago, a few days after hatching, he lost his left eye when his dad, Bully, carelessly stepped on his head. Not that Bully gave a damn, which is why his middle name is Bastard. Onward he marched (his standard gait) his other seven kids and mate, Bitchy, to the lake, leaving the injured gosling flailing helplessly on the grass, squeaking in horrible distress. Now that crushed me.
After a week in my infirmary (formerly the dog kennel), One-Eye was well enough to be reunited with his family. And he lived happily ever after until, by the looks of him, yesterday—opening day for ducks and geese season here in Southern Ontario.
Bob wouldn’t look me in the eye. “My son shot him last evening in a field two miles over. Got three more, too. I didn’t recognize the others, but you might want to do a roll call this morning. Here, take your goose.”
I shook my head. “I’d appreciate it if you’d make a good meal of him.”
“Sorry. I can’t. I just can’t eat anything with a name,” Bob stammered, then gently laid the goose on my porch and hobbled away as fast as his 92-year-old, arthritic knees would allow. His shoulders heaving, Bob was crying.