The saga of Mr. Jones

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On The Way

By Olivia Fowler

I nearly ran down a turkey gobbler on my way to church. He was pretty big and was crossing Roanoke Church Road when I came around the bend. I barely missed him. I haven’t seen a live turkey up that close in a long time. Not since the days of Mr. Jones, Grandmama’s prize turkey who strutted around her yard and terrorized all the grandchildren.

Mr. Jones was more vicious and aggressive than a pit bull and would attack any child under four feet tall. We wouldn’t venture out if we spotted him outside. Unfortunately, there were times when he was in the area and we couldn’t see him from the front porch.

Some of the most terrifying moments of my life were spent making a mad dash for the safety of the porch with Mr. Jones running close behind, flapping and gobbling and uttering all sorts of dire threats about what he would do if he caught me.

There are few life experiences more intense than being chased by a large predator. Any child Mr. Jones caught up with would be thoroughly flogged and pecked.

Being flogged by a hen can hurt, but being flogged by a turkey gobbler draws blood and leaves scars.

Matt, my older brother, found that if he armed himself with a leaf rake he could beat Mr. Jones back while we retreated. He would get between me and Mr. Jones and wield the rake in defensive moves until we made it up the steps.

I will give the turkey points for bravery. He was certainly no coward, but perhaps lacked judgment. Or maybe he was just plain stupid. We were always told that baby turkeys were dumber than baby chicks, as they would stand out in the rain holding their beaks open to the sky until they drowned.

At any rate, the duel between Mr. Jones and Matt became even more intense. Mr. Jones was determined to kill us all, and my brother, who tended to be a little reckless, was confident he could take him out with the rake if he could just connect in the right spot.

The feud continued until Uncle Russell and Aunt Emily came to visit with our cousins. They drove up in a brand new car, shiny bright and squeaky clean. This was such a novelty that we all went out to look it over. Matt automatically took the rake with him. He kept it propped on the porch and never ventured out without it.

The adults soon went back inside, but the children stayed out in the driveway.

We were having a pretty good time until Mr. Jones spotted us. He was on us so fast we lost what wits we had and began running around and around the car with the turkey hot on our heels. Matt couldn’t get between us, so he followed behind, swatting at the turkey with the rake. We screamed and squealed. Elizabeth, the youngest, was hysterical, sobbing, shrieking and running.

During the battle, Matt didn’t always connect with the turkey. About every other sweep of the rake hit the car. In our panic, we weren’t really aware of why this wasn’t a good thing.

Until Uncle Russell and Aunt Emily were ready to leave and he saw long rows of scratches on the car’s surface.

We were suddenly struck dumb. Not a single child, and there were eight of us, explained what had happened. The adults walked around and looked, trying to come up with an explanation that fit the evidence. Finally Mama laid the crime at the turkey’s door, and no one disputed this version of events. And so Mr. Jones was tried and convicted without the benefit of an attorney.

Uncle Russell, who actually was a judge, found him guilty. He got the death penalty. Not then, but later on at Thanksgiving. All the children thought justice had been well-served, and we enjoyed him down to the last morsel.