Rosie and the Killer Turkey

Revised from the original, which appeared in The Gettysburg Times in 1989.

We called him Rosie because of the girl my best friend was dating. We were all in high school, and she was in her early 20s. Now, Georgia was probably one of one of the sexiest things breathing. You take that and couple it with the fact that teenage boys are biologically very little more than hormones in sneakers, and you have a potential for real heartbreak.

Nat and I used to double date, only mine often didn’t show up. I would drive. They would sit in the back. Later, I’d tell them what the movie was about, and think of some clever reason why the steering wheel had gotten tied in a knot.

Anyway, all of us were madly in love with Georgia. I wrote little poems about her. Wise beyond my years, I kept them to myself. I no longer have them; I think that they self-combusted.

Wally, (not his real name) however, forgoing his usual indirection, bought Georgia a dozen Roses. From then on, Georgia would fix him with those big, brown eyes when Wally walked into a room, and say, Well, hey, there’s Rosie.”

The name stuck for a long time, though Georgia didn’t.

So, anyway, one November day, Rosie came across the street to my house and asks me, “Hey, you like turkey?”

Sure, I replied, sensing a trap. Rosie was one of those guys who, when he walked up to you smiling, you wanted to check the location of both your wallet and your girlfriend. I think he works in Washington now.

“A farmer daddy knows just gave him some turkeys. Would you help me get’em ready?”

“Getting ‘em ready” was more involved than I’d hoped. When we got to Rosie’s back yard, there stood two very large turkeys, beady of eye, sharp of beak, and very much alive and unready.

Rosie volunteered to hold the turkeys, one by one, while I took the firewood axe and ushered them out of this vale of tears and into their manifest destiny of stuffing, cranberry sauce, and endless leftovers.

Rosie was not the most steady of individuals.

He held onto the frantically struggling body of the first turkey. I held its head, and applied the axe somewhere in between.

Rosie, never one for long goodbyes, let go of the turkey.

I am not real good with an axe.

The future turkey dinner rose into the air, gravely wounded and furious.

Every one of its feathers stood on end; it looked as big as a Volkswagen. It landed on me, locking its claws into my sweatshirt, gobbling furiously as it tried to peck at my eyes.

Rosie started to laugh.

I hurled the turkey at him. Rosie stopped laughing.

Somewhere in the next few minutes, the turkey expired, probably of natural causes. I walked home. My poor mother almost had a heart attack, as I walked into the house, carrying the axe and covered with blood.

I never learned what the Rosie family did with the other turkey. I never got any thanks for my help, not so much as a plateful of leftovers.

Rosie, who was also famous for his short memory, probably never figured out why I chased him out of my yard a few weeks later. All he did, I’m sure he told his other friends, was walk up to me and ask: “Hey, you like pork?”

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