Montezuma’s Feathers
By R. M. Hicks


The populace of a small west Texas town has been plagued the past couple years by attacks from crow-like birds (Grackles) causing them to fear going outside and avoiding their favorite past-time:  picnics and BBQ’s. 

A young couple passing through the Texas town of Grand Molé are attacked by Grackles while stopping at a burger joint just outside of town.  The girl’s uncle, a chef and an avid bird watcher, decides to investigate the incident.  After suffering an attack by the Grackles and learning the source of the problem, he comes up with a novel solution allowing the populace to return to their picnics and BBQ’s.  



Charley and Maggie:       Young couple who get attacked by the grackles.
March Gutton:                  Main character who visits Grand Molé to try to understand what has happened to his niece, Maggie.  A square shouldered stocky, matter-of-fact guy who wears a gentleman’s attire of the time, a suit and tie.
Rood:                                    The heavy set bald owner of Rood’s Burgers.
Agnes:                                  Roods gangly awkward wife who is also the waitress at the burger joint.  She is the first person attacked by the grackles.
Trudy:                                   A thin elderly lady who’s the  owner of the Motel. She’s snarky with a mischievous sense of humor.
Captain Jack:                      The first doctor from (-) to come out and investigate the grackle attacks only to be attacked and blinded by them.
Marty:                                  A pretty young local girl who helps March with his investigation. She’s a modest plucky thing with a new found insecurity now that her face has some scaring after being attacked by the grackles.
Badger:                                A slovenly young man who is now a chicken breeder but had originally bred the grackles that are attacking people.
Flek and Jeff:                     A couple of obnoxious teenagers who befriend March.



Page 1

panel 1:
Close up of a 1950’s chevy car radio and a girl’s delicate hands with long polished fingernails tuning the dial.
Sound of car radio           ‘Schtzz sk sk schzzz’

Maggie                                 Geez, come on already.

panel 2:
Pan out to show Charley driving and Maggie fidgeting with the radio dials.
Radio                    ‘bop bop Maggie Sue….Maggie Sue…shctzz sk’

Maggie                 Look it’s that song about me….dang it!

Charley                 I don’t think that song was actually…..

Panel 3:
Maggie banging on the dashboard trying to tune the radio.
Radio                    Schtzzzz

Charley                 ….hey

Maggie                 Come on dang radio.

Charley                We’re out in the middle of nowheres, bangin’ on the radio ain’t going to get rid of the static.

Panel 4
Pan out further to show the car on an empty highway.
Maggie                 It’s not the middle of nowheres it’s west Texas.

Charley                Like I said…now why don’t you do something to keep you occupied, something healthy like smoke a cigarette.


Page 2

Panel 1
Inside the car Maggie toys with her hair while Charley grins looking sideways at her.
Maggie                 You know there’s only two reasons why I smoke a cigarette and being bored isn’t one of them.

Charley                Well, I could pull over…..for a bit.

Maggie                 Like what? A minute…or even two?

Charley                 Geez, come on now, that only happened once.

Panel 2
Out the front window is a sign for Rood’s Burgers and Maggie’s hand is pointing at it.
Maggie                 I meant that I am hungry.

Panel 3
View from the front of Rood’s burger joint which is nothing more than a counter and a covering with a couple picnic tables.  The car is parked and the couple is already standing at the counter.
Maggie                 Charley, what’s pulled pork?

Charley                Well, it’s not a burger.  Let’s do cheeseburgers.

Panel 4.
Charley taps on the glass window of the diner.  Charley is looking around while Maggie is reading a menu taped to the window.
Maggie                 You want to share fries?

Charley                It’s pretty empty in there.

Panel 5
Charley pulls the window open and leans over the counter to peer inside.
Charley                Hello? Anybody there?  Can we get some service please.


Page 3


Panel 1
An awkward, gangly waitress peers out around the corner of the kitchen
Agnes                   Yeah, what’s you want?

Panel 2
The couple standing at the counter with Agnes still standing in the shadows of the back room.
Charley                Hi, we’ll have the cheeseburgers and…..

Agnes                   No burgers.

Panel 3
The couple looking at her a bit surprised.
Charley                You don’t have any burgers?

Maggie                 Um, then what’s a pulled pork sandwich?

Panel 4
Agnes standing in front of them.
Agnes                   No sandwiches.  Have a milk shake.  They’re filling.

Panel 5
Maggie showing off her form, Charley looking confused.
Maggie                 Ma’am, does this body look like it does milk shakes?

Charley                You’re a burger joint without any food?

Panel 6
View from the shadows of the back room looking toward the waitress and the counter.  There is a shadowy large bald head in the foreground and Agnes is looking with frightened eyes towards the shadow.
Chef (Rood)        If they want burgers we sell ‘em burgers.

Panel 7
The couple in the foreground, with Agnes staring at them.
Charley                …and an order of fries...

Maggie                 ….and two sodas...

Agnes                   Fine, but y’all have to eats on yer way.


Page 4


Panel 1
The couple carrying out their food to a picnic table.
Agnes                   I said you gots to eats on yer way.

Panel 2
The couple sitting down at a picnic table.  The waitress is peering out the window, not looking at them but up in the sky.
Maggie                 What does she mean? Is this creepy or what?  Maybe we shouldn’t eat this food.

Charley                 Smells good to me.

Panel 3
Charley with a big mouthful of food.
Charley                um….tathes great, too.

Panel 4
Grackle on top of Charley’s car is in the foreground and others are on top of the restaurant.  Other Grackles are arriving.

Panel 5
Maggie putting a French fry in her mouth but looking sideways at the birds gathering on the tables.
Maggie                 Is that a crow?

Charley                I didn’t think crows got long tails like that.

Panel 6
Charley yelling at the Grackles that are landing on his car.
Charley                Hey!  Get off my car!


Page 5


Panel 1
The Grackles fluff and cackle.
Grackle                geeet kk.

Panel 2
Maggie looking worried at the Grackles now on their table.
Charley                Stupid birds.  Go away!

Maggie                 Charley….don’t ….don’t.  Let’s just go.

Charley                 yeah, maybe you’re….

Panel 3
The birds attack.  Maggie and Charley scream.


Panel 4
The waitress, with a terror stricken expression, holds the window closed as birds thud against it and others swarm Maggie and Charley.


Page 6

Panel 1
Exterior view of a small hospital just outside of Grand Molé.  March is speaking, but he’s inside so we don’t see him yet.
March                   Yeah, hi, my name is March Gutton and my niece was involved in some kind of accident.  Her name Maggie.

Panel 2
Interior view, Maggie and Charley’s room. The nurse that escorted March to the room is exiting.
Nurse                    The attending physician will be here shortly to answer any questions.

Panel 3
March looking down at Maggie and touching her shoulder.
March                   My dear Maggie.  What they said happened didn’t make any sense.  Were you actually in a car accident and not some kind of animal attack?  I know your mother was scared to death of you driving out here with that boy, so you can be honest with me, honey.  I won’t tell your mother, but I have to know….

Panel 4
Close up of Maggie with tearful eyes and band aids all over her face, some spotted with blood.
Maggie                 Oh, Uncle March, it was terrible….so terrible. So many birds.

Panel 5
Maggie covers her face with her hands which are also bandaged, March looks quite perturbed as the doctor enters the room.
Dr.                          I’m sorry to intrude Mr. Glutton but I thought maybe I could answer some questions and offer some reassurance.

Panel 6
March shakes hands with the Doctor.
March                   Thank you Doctor.  It’s Gutton.

Dr.                          Eh?

March                   I’m March Gutton.

Dr.                          Oh, of course.  My apologies, Mr. Gutton.

Page 7


Panel 1
The two of them standing next to Maggie who’s looking up at them.
March                   And what’s the prognosis then?

Dr.                          It’s good.  She’ll heal up fine, but I’m afraid her comeliness is going to suffer a setback.

Maggie                 NO!

Panel 2
Maggie sobbing in her hands, the doctor patting her on the head.
Dr.                          Whatever attacked her took its pound of flesh.  Well, more or less.

March                   And what exactly did attack her?

Panel 3
Maggie staring at them with wide frightened eyes.
Maggie                 Crows!  It was Crows!  The most evil hate filled Crows I’ve ever seen!

March                   That….that doesn’t make any sense.

Panel 4
Maggie pulling at her Uncle’s lapel.
Maggie                 Their tails were long, oh so long.  And those icy cold eyes.  Those unblinking blue eyes.

March                   Maggie,….Maggie are you sure they had blue eyes, not black eyes.

Maggie                 Oh yes, the most ice cold soulless blue eyes you ever could imagine, Uncle March.

Panel 5
March looking quite seriously at the doctor.
March                   That’s no crow.  That’s a grackle.

Doctor                  Is….is that worse?

Panel 6
March stands there touching his chin thoughtfully.
March                   Huh?  Uh, no.  It makes probably even less sense.  I’m a bit of a bird expert you see.

Dr.                          Are you an ornithologist?

March                   No.  I’m a chef.

Panel 7
It was a response that made no sense to the doctor and his expression shows it.
Dr.                          I don’t understand……well, I guess you might have some unique expertise with birds.

Panel 8
March looking every bit as confused as well.
March                   Huh?  Oh.  Uh no.  I’m an avid bird watcher.  Belong to the Audubon Society and other such affiliations.  Though I have cooked my share of fowl and pullets.


Page 8

Panel 1
The doctor leading March over to Charley’s bed.
Dr.                          Well, as I stated, your niece will do fine, but the boy suffered much worse injuries.  Particularly to his mental well-being.

Panel 2
The doctor waking up Charley who’s eyes are glossy and dilated.  He has even more blood-stained bandages on his face and his mouth is wrapped up.
Dr.                          Charley. 

Charley                Mmm.  Aye….aaattt….tttt…..almmm.

Panel 3
March looking at the doctor quite concerned.
March                   What did he say?

Dr.                          The only thing he’s said since they brought him in.

Panel 4
Close up on the doctor’s face.
Dr.                          ‘They ate it all.”

 Panel 5
March standing alongside his car.
March monologue
I told the doctor, in the most certain of terms, that this was unheard of.  Wild birds simply don’t go around attacking people.  Well, mockingbirds can be kind of aggressive especially when protecting their nest, but grackles are as tame as sheep.  Like the pigeon they’re found all over the southwest.  The Northern Great-Tailed Grackle was originally domesticated hundreds of years ago by the King of the Aztecs, Montezuma.  Ever since then they have lived quite comfortably among people. 


Page 9


Panel 1
March driving in his car.
March monologue, continued
I pointed out that there has never been a single instance ever recorded of a grackle attacking a human being.  “Not so,” said the doctor. “I know for a fact that they have attacked other humans.  I started here at this very hospital just over a year ago.  I was replacing the previous doctor who had his eyes plucked out of his skull by grackles.”  I was aghast and still am.  Even from a reputed erudite such as a doctor I find both my niece’s and his assertions, quite impossible. “Dozens of reports and photos were circulated about these attacks and the resident physician went to inquire.  And now he no longer practices medicine.”  Well, I should think not if he doesn’t have any eyes.  Regardless, my curiosity having got the better of me I inquired as to the location of this town, “Grand Molé.  “Your niece was attacked at a burger restaurant just outside of the town.” I told him I would go and see about this myself.  “Good luck with that.”  He said.  “Locals are a bunch of rural superstitious hicks.”  I took some offense over this and conferred that I’m from Texas.  Innocently and sincerely he added, “then you know what I’m talking about.”  Begrudgingly, I admitted that I did.

Panel 2
The car passes a sign “Entering Grand Molé.”


Page 10


Panel 1
March’s car parked out front of the Molé Market.  It’s an old fashion marketplace where everything is in bins and barrels. 

Panel 2
It’s a small market with the checkout in the back of the store along with a few refrigerators.  The clerk at the register is manned by a square shouldered woman with short hair and what looks like a hair-lip.  She’s sitting in a chair and reading a magazine so we can only see the magazine and her head.
March                   Hello.

Clerk                     Howdy….oh my gawd.

Panel 3
The clerk stands up leaning over the counter.
Clerk                     Thank gawd a doctor has finally arrived.  I tell you my corns is bigger than me toe.

March                   Oh, uh no.  I’m March Gutton and…..

Clerk                      Dr. Glutton I tell-you-wat. I don’t get them bone knobs shaved I’m gonna have me a heart-tac.

Panel 4
March                   No ma’am. I’m a chef….not a doctor.

Clerk                     Then what’s with the suit?  If you’s a chef, where yer hat?

Panel 5
March just stares at her completely confounded as he pulls out a pack of cigarettes
Clerk                     Well?

Panel 6
March lights up a cigarette.

March                   Listen, yesterday a couple of out of towners stopped by for a burger….

Clerk                     Yup.

March                   ….and were attacked by some birds.

Clerk                     Yup.  Not just any birds.  But crows.  Crows from the vast hoary wastes of Valhalla.

Panel 7
March blows out the smoke with a slack jaw confusion not believing what he just heard.


Page 11


Panel 1 – 8
March and the clerk continue their conversation.
March                   The hoary wastes of what?

Clerk                     Valhalla.  That’s what Captain Jack says.   Says it all the time.  If any person knows about that kind of thing, would’st be him.

March                   And you think they’re crows?

Clerk                     You’s can tell by them eyes.  Cold blue eyes.

March                   That’s a grackle.

Clerk                     If grackle means devil bird then alrighty.

March                   Well, do you know where they were attacked.

Clerk                     Where who was attacked?

March                   Where were the young couple from yesterday attacked?  Here in town?

Clerk                     Nope.  Couple miles yonder, Roods.

March                   Well, my apologies, I didn’t mean to be.  Guess I’m a little impatient.

Clerk                     Huh?  Just a go that away.  You’ll sees it.

March                   Oh, um Thank you.

Panel 8
March exiting the market.

Clerk                     What should I do about my corns Dr. Glutton.

March                   Don’t eat them all at once.


Page 12


Panel 1
March’s car parked out front of the burger joint.  March is standing at an open door next to the windowed counter.
March                   Hello?

Panel 2
Interior view of March standing inside the open door at the entrance.
March                   Hey, anybody here?

Panel 3
Agnes appears from a door leading out of the kitchen.

Agnes                   We ain’t got no burgers.  Just milk shakes.  That’s all we serve now.  If you’s don’t’ want that then get.

Panel 4
March holding out a set of keys.
March                   What I want….is the car that these keys will start.  And to know what happened to the kids that owned that car.

Agnes                   I… I, don’t….

Panel 5
Chef (Rood) appears from the back.
Rood                     Yeah, them kids was ‘ere.  Got attacked by them devil birds.  Don’t know a thing about their car.  Guess the authoritees tooks it.

Panel 6
March scowls at him.
March                   Give me back the car or I’m calling the sheriff.


Page 13

Panel 1
Rood puts his hands on his hips in a cocky gesture.
Rood                     You wanna calls our sheriff.  You go ‘head.  See how much he like you city slicker, carpet baggin’ know-it-alls infringin’ on his turf.

Panel 2
March stares at him sternly.

Panel 3
March heads toward their wall phone reaching to pick it up.
March                   You know what?  I will.  I want to know just how damn far the corruption goes in this back-water town of yours.

Panel 4
Rood and Agnes waving their arms and moving toward him with scared expression on their faces.
Agnes                   No, no!

Rood                     Wait, wait. Look see here!


Panel 5
March standing there with the phone in his hand and a confused and irritable expression on his face.
March                   Wait for what?

Panel 6
Rood grinning humbly and timidly.
Rood                     Look. See. I just stored it.  You know for safe keepin’

March                   Stored what?

Rood                     Look.  Just don’t call the sheriff and I’ll show ya where I stored the car for, you know,  safety.

Panel 7
March hanging up the phone and looking at Agnes standing next to him.
Agnes                   Sheriff hates his guts.


Page 14


Panel 1
Rood holds a flashlight shining it on the car.

Panel 2
Close up of car with white bumps all over it.
March                   What’s this?

Rood                     Bird shit.

Panel 3
March touching the bumps.
March                   They really were attacked by birds.

Panel 4
Rood holding the flashlight under his chin for that creepy look.
Rood                     You bet your ass they was.  The crows here have gone evil.  They swarmed all over them.  Lucky to get away with their eyes still in theirs faces.

Panel 5
March staring with perplexity down at the hood of the car.
March                   This isn’t normal.  It’s….bizarre.

Rood                     Yep, welcome to Texas ass’o.

Panel 6
March getting into the car.
March                   I’m from Texas dipshit, now open the garage door.


Page 15


Panel 1
March getting out of Charley’s car in front of the Molé Motel and looking up at a bunch of grackles lining a power line as the sun sets. 
March monologue
‘My disbelief has ended.  I no longer think reefer propagated some delusion in my niece’s mind.  She may really have been attacked by birds.  Not just any birds, Grackles.  Those simple beautiful birds up there.  A child may just have well been bitten by her hamster.  It makes no sense but here it is.  If I was closer to White Sands New Mexico or Area 51 then maybe some wild science fiction theory may be relevant here. 
I’ve decided to sleep on it.


Panel 2
Inside the hotel there is no counter.  There is a lobby across from the entrance and a man is sitting in a chair with his back to March and he’s watching a TV.  There is a chair on either side of him and in one of them is the owner, Trudy.
March                   Excuse me.

Panel 3
Trudy looks casually over at him.
Trudy                    Um, do you’s know where you’s at?


Page 16


Panel 1
March feeling a little confused.
March                   This is a motel right?

Trudy                    Oh my yes it is… would you like a room mr…..?

March                   You’ve got a television?

Trudy                    Captain Jack gives it to me.

Panel 2
March holds out his hand to shake hers.
March                   March Gutton.

Trudy                    Well Mark I’ve got a very nice room available.

March                   March.

Trudy                    Sure thing right this way. Its five dollars a night and you can pay when you check out.

Panel 3
She let’s March into the room.
March                   So, ms….

Trudy                    Trudy….just Trudy

Marsh                   Trudy, do you know anything about a young couple who was attacked by a flock of birds yesterday?

Panel 4
Trudy looks at him skeptically.

Panel 5
Trudy closes the door on him without responding.
March                   Well, alright then.

Panel 6
March lying on his bed.

Panel 7
March still lying on his bed
March                   What the hell is going on here?


Page 17


Panel 1
March lying on the bed on his side, a faint morning light shines on his face.

Panel 2
March opens his eyes.

March monologue
Dreamt of a mule bucking around inside a house like a rodeo horse.  Then watched a coffee pot melt and slither a door where I then saw my mother washing dishes….but it wasn’t my mother.  It was the waitress from the burger joint…..dreams are stupid.  And if you got any asinine theories about what Freud would say I’m going to punch you in the crotch.

Panel 3
March standing in the foreground downstairs in the lobby, the unidentified man sitting in front of him with his back still to us watching cartoons and Trudy sitting next to him drinking coffee.
March                   Good morning.  I am famished, anything for breakfast?

Panel 4
Trudy looks up at him with pursed lips holding up the cup of coffee.
Trudy                    Coffee.

March                   How about some eggs.

Trudy                    Huff, poached good enough for you Mark.

March                   March.

Trudy                    Fine, no need to get bossy.

Panel 5
In the kitchen Trudy is about to crack an egg on the skillet and March stops her.
March                   You know, why don’t you let me cook us breakfast.

Trudy                    Since when does a doctor knows how to cook an egg.

March                   I’m…just have a seat Trudy.


Page 18


Panel 1
They are sitting at a table set with glasses of milk, coffee cups, ashtray and a plate of omelets.
Trudy                    Mighty good for scrambled eggs

March                   It’s an omelet.

Trudy                    Tomato, tomoto

Panel 2
March laughing
March                   hhh,heheheh

Panel 3
Trudy smiling
Trudy                    Ain’t never heard a doctor laugh before.   Pretty funny ain’t I?

March                   Yeah, Yes you are.  Let me ask you, why does everybody here keep calling me a doctor?

Trudy                    ‘Cause.

March                   Because?

Trudy                    We all just tryin’ to be polite.  Only two kind a folk wear suit and tie in Texas degree hot.  Doctors and city ass’o’s.

Panel 4
March looks at Trudy
March                   Trudy my dear, I’m no doctor.

Trudy                    I know.

Panel 5
They look at each other with stoic serious expressions.

Panel 6
They burst out laughing.

Panel 7
March taking a swig of milk.
March                   Let me ask you, who’s the quiet fellow in the lobby.

Trudy                    Inda where?

March                   Watching TV?

Trudy                    Oh my, that’s Captain Jack.


Page 19



Panel 1
Back of March in the foreground, Captain Jack in middle ground and tv in background.
March                   So you’re Captain Jack, did you serve in the Navy?

Jack                        Nope.

March                   Oh, did you own a boat?

Jack                        Nope.

March                   Okay, then….

Panel 2
Jack                        I used to be a surgeon in the army.  Captain rank. Stitched together many a fine young men in WWII.  Hell, March I’m doctor Mcgillicote from the local hospital.

March                   I understand you decided to retire here after being attacked by the birds.

Jack                        Those damnable devil birds.                                       


Panel 3
Jack looks up at March who is taken back at the blind snowy eyes of Jack.
March                   Oh!!

Jack                        Haha, oh if I could only see your expression.  I’m sure it would be like mine the first time I saw a poor bastards face blown away and the only thing I could do for him was stop the damn bleeding.  I’m done bleeding March.  Now all’s I got is this shitty tv that’s more banal than a radio, and the evening cackle of the grackle.

Panel 4
Jack grabs March by the lapel.
Jack                        They’re demons March.  They get louder and louder each evening.  They get more and more.  They’re going to eat us all!

Panel 5
He laughs.
Jack                        Haha, they’re going to eat you March.  Hahah They’re going to eat it all!  Hahaha



Page 20


Panel 1
March runs out of the motel gasping.

Panel 2
He looks down at a male grackle courting a female.  He’s fluffed out with his head high.
Grackle                Greeee tktkt

March                   You’re a damn bird.  I know you don’t care about anything but bird things, like matting with a pretty little girl bird.  But what’s happening here?

Panel 3
A young lady (Marty) walks up to March.
Marty                    You’s the new doctor aint cha?

March                   I’m March, what can I do for you sweetie?

Panel 4
She gets really close to him.
Marty                    I’m Marty, I’s just comin’ by to talk with Captain Jack, but since you’s here I reckon I can just ask you.               

Panel 5                       
March pulls out a pack of cigarettes
March                   You want to ask me something? What about?

Panel 6
He shakes one out of pack and Marty holds out her hand for one.
March                   Little young for these.


Page 21


Panel 1
She takes his cigarette anyway.
Marty                    If I’m old enough to marry, I’m old enough to smoke.

March                   I don’t know that’s entirely true.

Marty                    Well, I’m 18 so trust me I am.

Panel 2
March                   Alright then (he lights the cigarette) so what was it you wanted to ask me?

Panel 3
Marty                    My spotting.  Been two weeks now.

March                   What did you spot?

Marty                    My spotting you know.  I’m still bleeding.  Say what kind of doctor are you?

March                   I’m not a doctor.

Panel 4
Marty                    You said you was.

March                   You said I was.

Marty                    Then what is you?  And why you trickin’ me.

March                   I’m a chef.


Panel 5
Marty                    Well, BBQ’s is dead here, so you ain’t gonna make much money here.  It’s the birds you see.

March                   And that’s why I’m here.  They attacked my niece two days  ago and I want to know why.


Page 22


Panel 1
March and Marty conversing.
Marty                    Oh, I know ‘bout them birds, ‘cause they got me.

March                   Do you have any idea why?

Marty                    It’s a curse.  See them grackles were domesticated by long ago by Aztecs so it’s a curse.

Panel 2
March                   I….I honestly don’t follow.

Marty                    Well I know where the first attack happened.  I can show you.

March                   Yeah?  Let’s go.

Panel 3
They walk over to the park.
March                   So you were going to visit Captain Jack because you know he’s a doctor.  You also know he’s blind right?

Marty                    The birds took his eyes not his brains.  You‘splain it to him, you know the  symptoms and he can tell you whutch yer problem is and how to fix it. 

Panel 4
Marty points to the rows of picnic tables.
Marty                    But I wouldn’t want him to remove my tonsils…..over there….whole town was present 8 people got injured.

Panel 5
March shares another cigarette with Marty as she tells the tale.  Flash back images of the maid being slapped and the birds attacking.
Marty                    That day, Mrs. Reedy’s maid, a Mexican gal, accidently spilt BBQ sauce all over Mrs. Reedy.  Well, Mrs. Reedy up and slapped her in the face in front of everybody.   Mrs. Reedy, who was a school teacher, told us later that her maid had been some kind of Aztec witch and so’s she put a hex on everybody who’d laughed at her.  Though I was actually laughing at Mrs. Reedy but that Mexican gal and the birds didn’t care.  They didn’t get me then, but they got me later.


Page 23


Panel 1
Marty and March standing opposite each other with a tire swing between them.
Marty                    So, that’s what happened and how it all started.  Did you get your curiosity satisfied?

March                   No.  I’m afraid it’s like a UFO.  I’d have to see it to believe it.

Marty                    You don’t believe in the curse?

March                   Well, I don’t believe a curse would make a grackle attack somebody.

Panel 2
Marty                    And what makes you think them grackle’s are friendly.  You’s a bird expert?

March                   Well I kind of am.

Marty                    If you say so.

Panel 3
March pointing out a couple of birds around the park.
March                   That’s the mourning dove, Zenaida Macroura, her song is a wonderful cooing sound.  And quite the opposite of that is the Blue Jay Cyanocitta Cristata that is an obnoxiously loud squawker capable of mimicking all kinds of sounds including machines.

Marty                    Yeah, I knows all that, except that phony Latin which may mean something to you, but for all I know you’s just making it up.

Panel 4
Marty                    So what’s that one called with the raspy twa-twa-tweed.

March                   Oh, that little fellow is a Titmouse.

Panel 5
Marty leaning into March and looking up at him skeptically.

Marty                    Now you’re just playin’ with me.  Ain’t no bird called something so indecent.

Panel 6  
A pair of teenage boys, Flek and Jeff, see March and Marty and head over to them.  Marty pointing at the boys.
Marty                    You know what kind of birds them is?

March                   No, what kind are they?

Panel 7
Marty grinning at March.
Marty                    Jail-birds.  They still juveniles though and haven’t got all their plumage yet.

March                   Heh, now that I believe.


Page 24

Panel 1 - 6
The boys lounging about a picnic table.  Marty is sitting on the tire swing and March is leaning against the tree.
Flek and Jeff      Howdy Marty.

Marty                    Howdy boys.

Panel 2
Jeff                        Lookin’ mighty purdy t’day, Marty.

Marty                    Keep movin’ on Jeff.

Flek                       Who’s the Doc?

Marty                    This is Mark.

March                   March.

Panel 3
Marty                    And he wants to know about the curse.

Jeff                        Best leave doc, this curse’ll get you’s like did our Captain Jack.

March                   Does everybody think it’s a curse or just you kids with your big imaginations?

Panel 4
Flek                       Everybody does.  Don’t believe us you can ask the first person who got attacked.

March                   Mrs.  Reedy?

Jeff                        Nah, she made sure the whole town got cursed. 

Flek                       Agnes was the first.

Panel 5
March                   And who’s that?

Flek                       My neighbor.

Marty                    Agnes Is Rood’s wife, the waitress at the burger joint.

March                   Is that so?  I met them.  It didn’t go so well. Perhaps you could give me a proper introduction.

Panel 6
Flek                       Sure thing Mark.

March                   March.

Jeff                        Demanding ol’timer ain’t he.


Page 25


Panel 1
Inside March’s car, Marty is in the front passenger seat and the boys are in the back.
Jeff                        So’s why you here Doc?  You worried about them crows causing a disease or something.

March                   No, but…has anybody become sick after being attacked.

Flek                       Me and Jeff were sick for two days afterwards

Panel 2                                   
Marty                    Sick with fear.  Same as me.

Panel 3
March                   A young couple that included my niece was attacked.  Grackles attacking people is ludicrous.  My niece was so beautiful.  They pecked at her face so terribly….so terribly.

Panel 4
Marty touching the scar on her lip.
Marty                    I too used to be pretty.  The belle of the ball.  Until….

Panel 5
Jeff leaning over the car seat
Jeff                        Come to the dance with me and you’ll still be.

Panel 6
Marty blows smoke in his face.

Panel 7
Marty                    I was at work, taking a smoke break….when it happened to me.


Page 26


Panel 1
Marty’s memory of her attack.
Grackle on top of the building looking down at Marty leaning against a stack of crates.

Panel 2
She’s lighting a cigarette and on the crate next to her is an open box of crackers and a soda.

Panel 3
Grackles land on the ground around her.

Panel 4
A grackle lands on the crate.

Panel 5
Marty’s eyes wide with fear as the cigarette drops from her mouth.


Page 27


Panel 1
Grackle flies right into her face.

Panel 2
Marty stumbles back with a bloody wound on her face.

Panel 3
Multiple grackles attacking Marty as she tries to get back indoors.


Page 28


Panel 1
Back inside the car Marty looking at her reflection on the window.

Marty                    I used to think they was pretty.  Now there are monsters that haunt my nightmares.

Panel 2
March offers her a cigarette.
March                   The boy may be a doofus, but I have to agree with him.  You’re still a very attractive young lady.


Panel 3
Flek leaning over the car seat trying to reach for a cigarette.
Flek                       Oh, are we sharing.

March                   No.

Panel 4
Jeff also crowding in over the seat and has a block of chewing tobacco in hand.
Jeff                        Trade a plug for a smoke.

March                   Absolutely not!  Where’d you get that!

Jeff                        It’s my allowance.

March                   Give me that.

Panel 5
Jeff and Flek putting a wad in their mouth.
Jeff                        Absowootwe not.  I wo’k ha’d fo’ this.

March                   Marty, do you know how to drive?

Flek                       I do.  I’ve stolen….

Jeff                        Barrowed.

Flek                       …yeah, barrowed almost every car in this town.


Page 29


Panel 1
Marty                    Yeah I know how to drive.

March                   Good.  Can you drive my nephew’s car back to the motel.  I left mine at there.

Panel 2
Flek                       Dang, doc your niece and nephew are a couple?

Jeff                        What kinda family you come from?

March                   It was just easier than saying, my niece’s fiancé.

Panel 3
Jeff                        You see, Doc comes from a verrrry close family.

Flek                       heheh  Real blue bloods they are.

March                   Would you two just shut…..

Marty                    Don’t.  Telling them to shut up just encourages them.

Panel 4
The car pulling up to the burger joint.
March                   Yeah, I know the type.

Flek and Jeff      Heheheh, hahaha


Page 30


Panel 1
Inside Rood’s everybody is standing in the kitchen.
March                   These kids seem to think the town is cursed and that it started with you.

Agnes                   ‘Course it is and I am.

Panel 2
March                   And did you have a run in with Mrs. Reedy’s maid as well.

Agnes                   Huh?

March                   Were you cursed or not?

Agnes                   Oh, I definitely was.  It was punishment you see.

Panel 3
March                   No I don’t.  Punishment for what?

Rood                     She found out Badger was stealing bread so we had to fire him.

March                   And who’s Badger?

Flek                       My neighbor.

Panel 4
Flek poking March in the chest with his finger 
March                   There’s like fifty people in this town.  Everybody’s your neighbor.

Flek                        And we’re all real friendly too.

Panel 5
March                   What does firing Badger have to do with a curse?

Agnes                   He was feeding the grackles.

Rood                     Not just feeding but breeding them, for that Mexican witch.

Panel 6
March                   What happened to them after he got fired?

Rood                     Guess you’d have to ask him.

March                   Does Badger live close by?

Flek                       Yep.

March                   Well, let’s go visit him.

Panel 7
Jeff                        I don’t know, been walking around all day.  Feeling kind of thirsty, what about you Flek?

Flek                       Oh, yeah, mighty thirsty.  Not sure I can walk arounds some more being so thirsty.

March                   Can I get a couple of sodas for Tom and Huck’fin here.

Panel 8
Marty                    Good thing I ain’t here.

March                   Is them soda’s….Are the soda’s cold?

Agnes                   Does a sow got teets?

March                   Make it four then.


Page 31

Panel 1
Exterior view outside of Badger’s ramshackle home.  Everybody is inside.
Badger                  Y’all can’t prove nothing.

Flek                       Ain’t nothing to prove Badger.  Me and Jeff been over lots of time to help you feed them.

Panel 2
Interior of Badger’s home.  It’s just as cluttered on the inside as on the outside, more-so even.  They are all standing around his living room.  He’s on his chair smoking.  The end table next to Badger is full of empty beer bottles and an overflowing ash tray.
Badger                  Fine but they ain’t never hurt no one.

March                   Do you still have any of them?

Panel 3
Marty is standing next to March and is pinching her nose.
Badger                  Nope.  Once Agnes and Rood canned me I couldn’t feed them no more.

Marty                    Badger, your house smells like butt.  Show him where you kept them so we can get out of here.

Badger                  Fine, but I’s gots chickens out there nows and they’s smells worse than anything.


Panel 32


Panel 1
Badger’s backyard is cluttered and full of covered pens.  Chickens wander around and there are stacks of empty cages.
Badger                  Once I got rid of them black birds I gots chicks.  They almost pay for themselves.  And       good eaten.  Can’t eat a grackle, they ain’t got no meat on them.  And you can’t sell them.

March                   Then why did you even have them?

Panel 2
Badger                  Oh, ‘cause they was cute.

Panel 3
March                   And you fed them bread?

Badger                  That and fries and burgers in general.  They’s eats almost anything.  I tried not to steal buns from Agnes, but if the customers was slow, or you know, if they ates all’s they’rs food then I got nothing for my birdies.

Panel 4
Jeff                        They was so cute and friendly.  We’d feed them straight from our mouths like we was mama birds.

Flek                       Yeah that was swell.

March                   How would you feed them from your mouth?

Badger                  Oh like this.

Panel 5
Badger puts a cigarette in his mouth like it’s the food and hunches over one of the empty cages.
Badger                  See, I’d just do this and they would take it right out.  All a squawkin’ and geetn.

Flek                       And show him how’d you’d flap your’s arms like you’s one of them.

Panel 6
Badger bent over, standing on one leg and arms bent to his sides like short wings.
Badger                  Yeah, I do this and step one foot to the next….Geet  Geet

Panel 7
Jeff                        Just like them see.

Flek                       heheh heh.

March                   Wow…The smell here is just awful.  Let’s go.


Page 33


Panel 1
Driving back to the motel, March is driving his car and the boys are in the back seat.
March                   You know something about this is starting to make sense.  In fact I think….

Panel 2
March sees in the rearview mirror that the boys are stuffing their face with some food.
March                   Hey, what are you doing back there?

Panel 3
March looks over his shoulder. 
March                   Hey, that’s my lunch.

Panel 4
The boys have an open lunch pail and are eating the food.  Flek is holding up a sandwich like it’s contaminated and Jeff is holding a brown banana.
Flek                       Well, the crackers is still good but,

Jeff                        The banana looks like poop.

Flek                       And this sandwich smells rotten.

Jeff                        Bet it wouldn’t stop Badger from eating it.

Panel 5
Flek and Jeff      Teehee.

March                   I’m sure it is, It’s tuna fish and its’ been in the car since yesterday morning.  What about the other sandwich?

Panel 6
Flek is holding up the other sandwich and March is taking from him.
Flek                       This un’.  What’s it, peanut butter and jam.

March                   Peanut butter and pickles.

Flek                       Yuk.

March                   Tastes better than it sounds.


Page 34

Panel 1
Both cars are pulling up in front of the motel.
Jeff                                        Can I have a bite?

March                                   No.

Panel 2
They’re getting out of the car.
March                   Thanks for your help today boys.

Flek                       Sure thing Mark.

Jeff                       See you ‘round Marty.

Marty                    Unfortunately.

Panel 3
March leaning against the car eating his sandwich.
Marty                    So what now?

March                   I’m quite doubtful about this whole curse thing.

Panel 4
A grackle lands on the car.
Marty                    Oh!

Panel 5
March turns around sandwich in hand.
Grackle                 Greeet kk


Page 35


Panel 1
More grackles arrive.
Marty                    Run

March                   Wait…

Panel 2
Marty flees tripping. Grackles flying to them.

Panel 3
Marty collides with a trash can and the grackles attack.

Panel 4
March tosses the half-eaten sandwich. 

Panel 5
March covers his eyes with his hands, the grackles pecking at him.


Page 36


Panel 1
Marty on the ground back against a tree holding the trash can lid in front of her for protection.

Panel 2
Grackles converge on the trash spilled out of the can.

Panel 3
Marty cowering under the lid and a bloody hand grabs the top of it.
March                   Marty,….Marty it’s ok.

Panel 4
He pulls her up.
March                   They’re not after us…see…

Panel 5
Grackles converging on the sandwich.
March                   See.  They’re just hungry.

Marty                    You…..You’re right.


Page 37

Panel 1
Marty kisses him.

Panel 2
He pushes her away.
Marty                    You think I’m ugly.  You think I don’t know about kissing.  You think cause them birds got me that I’m ugly.  But I know about kissing and ugly ain’t got nothing to do about kissing.

Panel 3
March                   Listen, ugly has nothing to do with scars.  Ugly is you being stuck in this town and having no future anybody would ever care about.

Panel 4
March                   Listen, out there, scars don’t matter.  Look, you see that horizon, grab it.  It might hurt you, but it won’t leave scars and the scars you do have, it won’t care about them at all. Grab it.  It’ll scare you at first but it’s only because you don’t know the lay of the land.  Once you learn that map, there isn’t any place you can’t go. 

Panel 5
March                   Of course you might have to do something about that accent.

Panel 6
Badger rides up on a bike holding a baseball bat in one hand.
Badger                  So they got you too.  Where’d they’s go?

March                   They ate it all so they left.


Page 38


Panel 1
March                   I think I know how to fix this.  They’re birds of the Aztecs, so maybe what we need is a sacrifice.

Marty                    You think so?  You can end the curse.

Panel 2
Badger                  You know what Mr. Mark…..

Panel 3
Badger clobbers March in the back of the head with the bat.

Panel 4
Badger                  …..I’d been thinkin’ the same thang.


Page 39


Panel 1
Marty trying to get help.  She bursts into the Motel.
Marty                    Trudy…Trudy.  Get Help!  Call the sheriff!  Badger is trying to kill March by feeding him to the grackles!

Panel 2
Trudy making her way to the door, Captain Jack can be seen sitting in his chair in the background.
Trudy                    Oh my goodness…the sheriff is in Reno gambling away speeding ticket bribes.  Go get Jenkins, he should be working at the market.

Panel 3
Jack excitedly looking over his shoulder shouting after them.

Jack                        Don’t go!  You don’t want to see that Gertrude.  They’ll eat him up.

Panel 4
Jack taking a long drink from his flask.
Jack                        They’ll get you too.  Get us all.

Panel 5
Jack pulling a cigarette out of his pack.  We can see he’s got it by the wrong end holding the unfiltered tip.
Jack                        Geet, Geet!

Panel 6
Jack lighting the cigarette.
Jack                        Eats our eyes.  Eats our livers. Leave nothing but our bones….uck!

Panel 7
Jack holding the cigarette with a look of anger and disgust on his face.
Jack                        Damn you woman you’ve ruined another one.  I’ve told you a hundred times to stop putting my cigarette’s in upside down .

Panel 7
Jack yelling angrily over his shoulder.
Jack                        It’s not funny anymore!


Page 40


Panel 1
March is sitting on the ground tied up to a tree and Badger is standing in front of him with his back to us.   Badger is holding his bat in his left hand loosely at his side.  We see something being squirted onto March’s chest.  Though it’s not visible to us in this panel, about a dozen other people have shown up to see what the hullaballoo is all about.

Panel 2
March wakes up groggily to the sound of arguing.
Marty                    You kilt him.  Why’d you kill him!

Badger                  He ain’t dead, but if you steps any closer Marty I’ll brain him but good.

Panel 3
Marty                    But there’s blood all over him!

Badger                  Nah, it’s ketsup.

Flek                       Uh, whys you doin’ this?

Badger                  Because I know this swine.  I know how he’s gonna spin this. 

Panel 4
Badger                  He won’t shut up till he’s convinced the whole world that it’s my fault.  But ya’ll know it’s that witch.  This bullsheet is a witch’s curse.

March                   There is no curse.

Panel 5
Badger squirts more ketchup onto March.
March                   Stop that!

Badger                  See I think he was right.  We’s need a sacrifice.  Once these birds eats him all up, they’ll stop attacking us.

Trudy                    How can you possibly believe that will….


Page 41


Panel 1
A grackle appears on a table next to Trudy.
Trudy                    ….oh my!

Grackle                kk  eeeeet.

Panel 2
Everybody steps away from the grackle.

Panel 3
It pecks at a twig on the table.
Marty                    Oh my gawd no!  Run!

March                   Wait, just wait, it won’t do anything.

Panel 4
Everybody watches in apprehension.  It picks up a few small twigs.

Panel 5
It flies off.
Jeff                        So, where’s the rest of them?


Page 42


Panel 1
Badger squirts more ketchup on March.
Badger                  What gives?

March                   It doesn’t care about ketchup you idiot.

March                   I know how to fix this.  But first somebody needs to untie me and we’re probably going to need Agnes and Rood’s help.

Panel 2
Flek unties March.
Flek                       I’ll set’cha loose.

Panel 3
March straightens himself.
March                   Thank you.

Panel 4
He promptly punches Badger in the face.

March                   That’s for hitting me in the head you ass’o!

Panel 5
Change of scene to the exterior of the burger joint - grackles line the roof and are all over the tables and cars.


Page 43


Panel 1
Inside Rood’s, Rood is carrying a tray of burgers and Agnes is looking out the counter window at all the birds. 
Rood                     So, we’s just gonna toss all these burgers.  What a dang waste.

Agnes                   The Doc says it wouldn’t be a sacrifice if there’d be no cost.  Sides, says he’ll pay up if it’s a bust.

Rood                     Then let’s just eat them up and tell him it failed.

Panel 2
Close up of Agnes and Rood in the foreground with March in the background standing next to their phone and holding a half-eaten burger.
March                   I can hear you, you know.  Now toss them.

Panel 3
Agnes opens the door and Rood tosses them outside. 

Panel 4
The grackles descend.

Panel 5
March on the phone.
March                   Yeah, do it.


Page 44


Panel 1
March taking a big mouthful of burger.
March                   You know, this is pretty good.

Panel 2
Rood looking at us (March) and Agnes looking through the closed windows of the counter.
Rood                     ‘course it is.  That’s pure Texas steer…..And just a little bit of road kill armadillo.

Panel 3
March absolutely aghast as he glares at the burger.
March                   Gak!

Panel 4
Rood and Agnes laughing.
Rood                     What a maroon.

Agnes                   A complete sap.

Panel 5
Exterior scene of the motel.  Flek sitting on his bicycle in the foreground and Trudy leaning out of the door.
Trudy                    He says do it.


Page 45


Panel 1
Flek rides off
March monologue (to be spread over the panels)
This is a situation that I believe can be attributed to the maxim, “Don’t Feed the Bears.” 

Panel 2
Flek                        He says do it.

March monologue
At issue is the domestication of a wild animal that once freed, it didn’t know how to care for itself. 

Panel 3
Badger puts a burger on a BBQ.

March monologue
It’s a sad and pitiful situation when a dog or cat is suddenly released and has no idea how to survive.  Without handouts or readoption, they end up dead or killed by predators. 

Panel 4
People watch from the windows of the market.

March monologue
The grackles didn’t really have much in the way of predators so adaptation for them was to go to the source they were familiar with, the food out of people’s mouths.

Panel 5
Jeff, Flek and Badger eat their hamburgers.

March monologue
I think, at the very least, that I have successfully dispelled these folks of their superstition that they were cursed by the whim of a vengeful spiritualist.

Panel 6
March arrives in his car. 

March monologue
And yet, on some level, perhaps due to the extreme aggressiveness of the grackles shark-like feeding frenzy….


Page 46


Panel 1
March walks with Marty to the BBQ. 

March monologue
....I can’t help but to wonder maybe whether there was some malice in their actions. 

Panel 2
The people come out of the market and there are no grackles around.

March monologue
Nonetheless I don’t believe it was a hex but simply the misguided act of generosity….

Panel 3
Badger with his head tilted back squirting ketchup into his mouth.

March monologue
…..of the local buffoon.

Panel 4
March driving down the highway.

March monologue
I’d complain about all this.  I could go on about it all being a waste of time.  I could say I wish I never had to bother with any of this.  And I certainly wish that Maggie hadn’t gotten injured, but you know, this was probably one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.


Page 47

Panel 1
Police car races up behind him with sirens on.
March                   Now the sheriff arrives.  Good grief.

Panel 2
Sheriff walking up to the open window of the car.

Panel 3
March looking up at the pudgy sheriff.
March                   Good morning sheriff.

Sheriff                  Are you Marc Glutton?

March                   Uh, sure, I suppose I am.

Sheriff                  I’m going to needs you’s to step out of the car.

Panel 4
March                   Uh, ok.

Panel 5
Sheriff                  Hand on the hood.

March                   Um, what exactly is the problem?

Panel 6
Sheriff checking March’s ID.
Sheriff                  Well Mr. Glutton,                              


Page 48

Panel 1
Sheriff                  I’m going to have to take you into custody.

March                   What?  For what?

Panel 2
Sheriff hand-cuffing March.
Sheriff                  For assault and battery.  Badger claims you punched him in the face.

March                   But….that’s….He hit me in the head with dang bat!

Panel 3
Sheriff escorts March to the police cruiser.
Sheriff                  Well, that’s you’s word against his.

March                   That…that Ass’o!

                THE END.