Harold flew out of a giant oak and landed with his feet on the ground. Three toes forward and one back. Like a Spartan with a red plume, he raised his head and showed off his vermilion dome. He flapped his wings and propelled himself onward.
The turkey gobbled as he pranced across open ground, searching for grasshoppers.
Children chattered with noisy excitement and stuck their heads out the windows of their school buses. Their eyes combed the fields in search of the bird. Where was Harold?
The local football team’s mascot, dressed up like a turkey, strutted in front of the stands during half-time.
“Go, Harold. Go!” excited fans shouted.
Everyone loved Harold, except Olaf. He would kill for that bird.
Then, if he could catch him, he’d invite his friend Wessel to his lopsided, tin-roofed two-room shack on the edge of town for Thanksgiving dinner.
Wessel had matted hair and a scraggly beard and drank rotgut to excess. He picked up cigarette butts off the ground, scrambled through garbage bins, and slept under a bridge.
At first light, a rooster crowed.
With a gunny sack slung over his back, Olaf crept onto the early morning frosted ground. He looked this way and that, searching for Harold.
He sat on his haunches behind another giant oak. He drew a bottle of wine out of his tattered jacket and took a swig. Then, with a grimy hand, he wiped his mouth.
The turkey appeared.
Olaf got to his feet with a silent stagger, carrying an open bag. And to imitate a bird, he clucked.
Harold studied Olaf with serious eyes. Tail feathers splayed, talons stretched, he scratched the dirt, and dust went flying.
Olaf dropped the bag. “I’ll catch you.”
Drunk and confused, he stumbled and crisscrossed the lot with outstretched arms.
“No turkey this year,” Olaf said. “But we still have this.” He held up a bottle of Thunderbird.
“Yep.” Wessel reached for the wine.
Olaf and Wessel sat on a park bench and watched the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Harold raised his head, showed off his vermilion dome, and led the march.