Crows and Galahs

Jake rested in the passenger seat to the purr of the car’s engine, his head gently vibrating against the window. His father held the steering wheel in one hand and hung his other arm out the window, letting a warm breeze dishevel his greying hair. An endless row of barbed wire and wooden posts separated the highway from the fields of canola, blurring past like a yellow brushstroke on blue canvass.

A kangaroo leapt in front of them. The car skidded, launching them into their seat belts. The kangaroo crossed long before they stopped. The smell of burnt rubber drifted through the car.

Images flashed through Jake’s mind.

The premonition returned.

His mother followed the chain of taillights through the city in her pink hatchback. Piano music played on the radio while rain roared outside. With a half-smile and vacant stare, she was heading home after a long day at work.

Swerving across lanes, the four-wheel drive screeched with each turn. It sped through a red light and slammed into his mother’s car in an explosion of glass and twisting steel.

Slumped through her smashed window, across the blood-smeared white hood of the four-wheel drive, his mother’s sky-blue eyes looked forever to the dark clouds.


His eyes snapped open. “Huh?”

“We missed it.” His father drove off. “It’s okay.”

Jake’s trembling fingers pulled at wisps of blonde hair on his chin. Nothing was okay anymore.

“You looked like you were lost in your own world again.”

“J—just th—thinking about Mum.” The sun flashed in his side mirror, reminding him how far their all-day drive had taken them from home – from the place they had all shared. Every day since, and every mile now driven, pulled him further from the family they once had.

“She’s always on my mind too.” His father wiped a tear from Jake’s eye. “Look at you. Ya know, your mother always said grey eyes were some special family secret.”

“Yeah, s—she always said nice things.”

“I’ve been real worried about you. Your schooling…at home…you’ve been distant.” His father reached over and rubbed his knee. “You’re meant to be upset. But…it’s like there’s more going on.” He shook his head. “I just don’t know what’s eating at ya.”

I wish I could stop these thoughts in my head coming true.

“Jake.” His father shook his leg. “I don’t know what more I can do.”

Jake clawed his seat to control his shaking. “There’s nothing.”

“You and me, we need to work through this together…ya know.”

Jake looked at his father and saw three months of worry written into his bloodshot, dark-ringed eyes. Eyes that once shined with happiness – when they were all together. He wished things had not changed. Guilt stung him inside. If only he had done something. “I just wish I could have been there.”

“I’m glad you weren’t.”

“To help her.”

“No one could have done anything.” His father sniffed. “It was over in a heartbeat for her.”

Jake shifted away. “To warn her.”

“Oh, Jake, they said she didn’t even see the other car coming.”

I saw it coming.

His father grimaced. “We’ve been over this. I love you, but this is killing me.” He sighed. “What could you have possibly done?”

He fixed his father a stare. “I kn—knew it was going to happen…b—beforehand.”

His father strangled the steering wheel. “Are you crazy?” He punched the roof. “I’m sorry…I just don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to help…and with our money situation on top of things…it’s all been too much.” He sighed. “I’m just hoping this trip to the country helps.”

A hot flush coursed through Jake’s cheeks. He folded his lanky arms and turned away. Darkness cast by trees in the setting sun blanketed their journey ahead. He wondered if his father would ever understand him. No one else did.

A storm of stones awoke Jake as they pulled into a gravel driveway. A farmhouse sat on a rise in the distance, surrounded by a sea of wheat. They parked in a work yard adjoining the home.


His father turned and yawned.

“I’ll show you I’m not crazy.”

“I’m sure you will.” His father forced a thin smile and mussed Jake’s curls.

A red-orange glow on the horizon stretched across the fields, lighting up a face weathered by seventy seasons farming under the Australian sun. An old man sat perched on the veranda steps, stroking a lamb curled up by his work boots. A chorus of cicadas kept them company.

He stood with a groan and the lamb bleated. “Now shush, Lucky, you’ve ‘ad your pat,” he said in a drawn-out voice. He stroked the lamb and then extended a grease-etched hand to Jake’s father. “Karl.”

“Good to see you again, Crow.”

“Yep. It was a hell’ava time at Claire’s funeral, but it was great to see you guys.” Crow stroked his beard. “Ten years with nothin’. Now I see ya both again within a few months.”

“Coming out for harvest was a great idea.” Karl rested his hand on his son’s back. “Especially for Jake…ya know.”

“How was your drive, Jakey?” Crow asked.

Despite Jake being sixteen, he stood taller than most adults, yet Crow towered a foot higher than him. Jake dropped his face and fidgeted.

A callused hand lifted his chin, and Crow’s ash-grey eyes locked onto Jake’s. “I’m glad you didn’t hit that ‘roo.” Crow grinned.

Shadows leapt into his mind.

Darkness enveloped Crow. A shotgun exploded with a flash, lighting the night. He doubled-over and fell to the dirt.

The porch light shone off Crow’s white hair and his smile pulled at a cobweb of wrinkles. Fear surged through Jake, trembling his body. He did not want any more premonitions. His legs led him backwards. His father stepped forward, reaching out. Jake sprinted to the car, slapped his hands on the hood, and closed his eyes.

“What now?” his father shouted.

“Leave him be,” Crow said, still calm.

Jake burned inside with embarrassment at letting his father down again. “I d—don’t want to be here.” He glanced at his father. “I w—want to go.”

His father approached and whispered, “Pull yourself together. He’s a good man.”

That’s why I have to go.

A firm hand pressed on Jake’s back. “Don’t worry yerself,” said Crow, “this place will bring out the bes’ of ya. I’ll see to that. Just settle in and make a fresh start tomorra’.”

Jake crept outside at dawn to the screeching from a flock of galahs. An explosion of pink and grey wings filled the canopy of a giant gum tree in the backyard. His father sat in a tilted-back chair, gazing across the fields. A crisp breeze carried the aroma of coffee from a cup held in his lap.

“How’re you feeling today?” His father smiled, pulling out a chair between them.

“Ah…fine.” Jake scanned the empty work yard.

“Something’s on your mind.”

“Where’s Crow?”

“Getting the header ready. How ‘bout you help him today?”

Heat flushed through Jake. “No.”

A corrugated iron shed rattled in the work yard. A harvester rumbled out, leaving a cloud of red dust and exhaust glowing in the morning light.

Jake backed up.

His father raised his voice over the engine. “Well, I think his farmhand, Nick, is out somewhere in the ute. I’d like you to get involved somewhere…ya know.”

Crow opened the cab door and waved Jake in. Jake snapped his head away, leapt down the stairs, and dashed across the back yard.

Lucky stood in the far corner, chewing at withered plants clinging to a rusted fence. A four-wheel drive utility loaded with hay bales on the rear tray skidded to a stop on the other side. The lamb scurried away. The driver wound down his window and shouted, “Bro, Old Crow said you can help ‘im or come out wid me.” He laughed. “But I reckon you better come ‘long wid me.”

He looked from Nick to Crow like a rabbit caught between two foxes.

Nick pushed his sunglasses up onto the stubble on his head and revved the engine. “Oi, get the fuck in already.”

Jake ducked between the strands of fence, catching his shirt on the barbs as he went through. The rust-spotted door groaned as he opened it and climbed in.

“Shut the fuckin’ door, you’re lettin’ the air con out.” They skidded off.

Jake grappled with his seatbelt in the bouncing car.

“Bro, you don’t need to belt-up, you dumb arse.” He snickered, swerving along the road.

Jake clenched his door handle.

“Out ‘ere you can drive how you want ‘n shit. Cops can’t get you.” His tattooed arm wound down the window and he spat outside. “We’re headin’ out to a far paddock to feed some sheep.” He burped up the stench of stale beer. “I’ll let ya know when to get out and open the gates ‘n shit.”

A cry burst into Jake’s head. He threw his hands to his ears and clenched his eyes.

Hobbling in a frantic circle, a sheep struggled to walk. Crying out, its twisted back leg etched a trail of blood along the dirt.

“Oi, what the fuck, bro.” Nick screwed his acne-scarred face.

They sped along the edge of the fields until reaching a barren paddock. A distant mob of sheep marched across the sun-baked earth, chewing at scraps of dry stalk.

Jake looked back and forth between Nick and the sheep.

Nick accelerated.

“H—hey, s-slow down.”

Nick laughed. “H—h—h—hey.” He jerked the steering wheel side to side, throwing Jake around in his seat.

They skidded to a stop, and the mob surrounded them amongst a cloud of drifting dust. “Bro, get out and push the hay off.”

Jake forced his door open against the sheep, climbed into the back tray, pinching his nose at the stench of manure. The utility crept forward. He pushed the bales off one by one into a cacophony of bleats.

Speeding up, the car swayed from side to side. He gripped the bales and squatted. The sheep stampeded behind. Nick braked, launching Jake into the back windscreen. Laughter erupted inside.

Jake slapped the driver’s window. “S—stop it, y—you’re going to run them over.”

The car jolted into reverse. Wailing sheep competed with the roar of the engine. Nick slammed on the brakes, throwing Jake to the dirt.

Bleating frantically, an ewe lay on its side. Jake pushed himself up and wiped the taste of manure from his mouth. The sheep hobbled away, dragging a broken and bloody back leg, before collapsing.

The horn beeped. “Oi, get in.”

Jake knelt by the ewe, reached out to touch it, and hesitated, not knowing how to help. His hands shook. Crying out, the animal stared at him. Jake glared at Nick. “Help it.”

Nick sped off, coating Jake in a shower of stones.

The sun crawled through the clear sky to mid-point as the sheep’s bleats quietened to an occasional moan through bubbling saliva. Jake rested against the sheep’s sweat-soaked back, stroking its head. The sheep vision tormented him, reminding Jake he could not avoid his premonitions even when he tried.

The utility crested the horizon.

Jake sprung up, sending a cloud of flies buzzing around them. His heart thumped in his chest, beating faster as the engine grew louder.

Crow burst out before the car had stopped. “Why did ‘e leave ya ‘ere?” He ran over to them. “He said ya wanted to walk back.” He chuckled. “But I didn’t think you’d wanna trek five k’s in this heat.”

“He ran it over,” Jake rasped through a dry throat. “I knew he was going to.” He looked up at Crow. “But I couldn’t stop him.”

“Hmm.” Crow shook his head. “He’s some piece o’ work.” He went to the utility and took out a shotgun.

A blast of terror shot through Jake. His body locked in place, his mind racing with the vision of Crow.

Collapsed on the dirt and gasping, blood pooled around Crow.

Crow approached, casting a shadow over Jake. “I needa put ‘er down.”


The ewe panted.

“Move back.”

Jake stood and dragged himself away. Decaying fences crisscrossed arid paddocks, stretching to the horizon in every direction.

An explosion blew through Jake.

“Jakey.” Crow raised his voice. “Come back with me.” Crow grunted and the utility’s tray banged as the dead sheep landed inside.

A scorching wind stirred up wisps of sand, stinging his bare legs. Crow drove alongside. “Come on, ya can’t ‘void me forever. An’ besides, too much sun is no good for ya.” He scratched a dark mole on his cheek. “Trus’ me.”

“I’m not avoiding you.” He walked on, scraping his boots with each step.

“Well, climb in.” Crow slapped the outside of his door.

Jake stopped and stroked his sunburnt neck. “I just want a ride back.” He climbed in, burning his legs on the vinyl seat.

“Let me take ya somewhere betta.” Crow wiped his forehead with a sweat-stained hat.

“I want to be alone.” He folded his arms and turned away.

“No, ya don’t. People like us are alone enough already…Trus’ me.”

They drove along a track lined with bush on both sides. A tapestry woven with every shade of green whirred past. Crow gently steered around the holes and corrugations in the track as a plume of dust trailed behind.

A crow stood on the road in the distance, diving its beak in and out of a squashed galah. It watched their approach between bites. Jake looked from the bird to Crow, his heart rate increasing. The crow stepped aside at the last moment, and then strolled back after they passed.

Crow raised his voice over the hot wind howling through the windows. “Do ya know where we get the saying ‘silly galah’ from?”

Jake turned further away.

“Well, in the country ya get an understandin’ of the birds. The galahs are the dumbest. They’re at the bottom of the peckin’ order far as intelligence is. You could be drivin’ along and a whole flock will take flight in front of ya, only to turn back and fly straight into ya.” He leaned over. “They’re stupid.” He focused ahead. “All other birds are just that little bit smarter as ya go ‘long. And then there’s the crow.” He grinned. “Nothin’ surprises the crow. They always see what’s comin’.”

They stopped by a granite rock, sitting like an island in an ocean of wheat. The sunburnt-red monolith blocked out half the sky, casting a cool shadow.

“You’re gonna need to learn ta shoot on the farm.” Crow took the shotgun and climbed out.

Jake’s pulse beat in his ears. He hesitated, before following.

Crow demonstrated how to load and work the action. He fired a succession of shots, interspersed with quick pumps. The blasts echoed off the rock and reverberated through Jake long after each discharge.

He pushed the gun into Jake’s hands. “Just aim at somethin’ and ‘ave a go. Just don’t shoot me.” He chuckled.
Jake clasped the gun and aimed at a tree. It swayed in the sights. The moment before pulling the trigger stretched for an eternity. His breaths grew louder and his eye glossed over. His sweaty finger slid off the trigger and he lowered the gun.

“You can do it, Jakey.” Crow steadied the gun. “Just point ‘n shoot. Ya can’t miss with this one.”

He touched the trigger. The butt exploded back into his shoulder. A pungent burning smell filled the air. He pumped the action, unable to contain his grin.

“Way to go.” Crow took the gun and returned it to the car. “Let’s check on the crop.”

He followed Crow into the wheat. Drooping seed-heads caressed his arms as they waded through a waist-high golden field. Crow broke off a seed-head, rubbed it between his hands, and handed it to Jake. “Eat it.” Jake ate the nutty tasting grain.

“Dry and crunchy? We’ll start harvest after the full moon.” He caught Jake’s eye. “Unless the storm comes.”

Crow turned to the rock. A breeze rustled the field, carrying the sweet smell of sun-baked grain. “That’s where I asked my dear Maggie to marry me.” He took a deep breath. “We came ‘ere every year ‘round this time to check the wheat.” He rubbed Jake’s back. “I know you’re suff’rin’ over your mother. I can see it, and I know how you feel.”

“Yeah?” he murmured. No one knew how he felt.

“I lost Maggie before last seedin’ to cancer. It’s a—” He choked. “It’s a hell’ava way to go. Trouble for me was I knew it was comin’ and there was nothin’ I could do to help ‘er.”

Jake knew that feeling. “I wish I had said something to Mum. It’s like I knew something was going to happen.” He quietened his voice. “But, I didn’t ‘cause Dad thinks I’m an idiot.”

Crow gripped Jake’s shoulder. “I wish I could turn back time too. I wish I had been there for Maggie. I was so torn up before she went that I ignored her. Worst part is I’m now havin’ my own medical dilemma…so I kinda know what she went through.”

Crow wiped his eyes. “Maggie and I had a good fifty seasons. I never…I never wanted to have a harvest without her.” His chin quivered. “I ‘aven’t told anyone this, Jakey, but after she died I came ‘ere and nearly ate a mouthful of lead.”

Jake paused. Finally someone knew how he felt. “I wish I had of done more.”

“Your father tells me you became close to yer mum before she passed on…That’s somethin’.”

“Yeah but—“

“Look at me.” Crow stood in front of Jake, looking him in the eyes. “I know ya feel real bad ‘bout your mum’s passin’. But you’re not responsible.”


“Someone else is.” Crow grinned. “And that someone will get his in the end.” Crow nodded as the sun silhouetted behind, surrounding him in a brilliant glow.

Jake placed a palm on Crow’s chest and a burning sensation radiated along his arm. He closed his eyes and released all thoughts.

Grasping at his chest, Crow lay on the dirt. A shadow cast in the moonlight stood over him.

Sunlight filtered in. He clenched his eyes, turning his head back and forth.

The figure turned away, shotgun hung by its side, its footsteps crunching on the gravel.

He opened his eyes, mouth agape.

Crow smiled. “Come on, we betta check the others.”

The premonition haunted the return journey. Muzzled by doubt, he caged his concern for Crow. His father thought he was crazy, and so would everyone else. Crow seemed to understand him, and he would keep it that way.

They found Nick repairing a collapsed fence where the track bordered a salt lake. Skeletal trees punched through the parched landscape amongst waves of shimmering heat.

“Come ‘long, Jakey, I want ya to see somethin’.” He winked.

Crow approached Nick, with Jake trailing in his shadow. “Hey, ya clown,” said Crow.

Nick snapped upright, throwing down a pair of pliers. “What?”

Crow stopped an inch from Nick, leaning over him. “What’s with leavin’ the boy out there?”

Squeezing his fists and bobbing up and down, Nick shouted, “Bugger off, he wouldn’t fuckin’ get back in.”

Crow stood firm.

Jake stepped back.

“Well, I’m holdin’ off ya pay,” said Crow.

Glaring at Jake, Nick stepped over and jabbed him in the chest with a bony finger. “What did you say, ya little faggot?” Sweat dripped off Nick’s nose.

Jake held up his palms. “I—I—”

Darkness flickered into his mind.

Moonlight flared in Nick’s dilated pupils. With a twisted face, he thrust forward a shotgun, looming over Crow.

Sunlight fluttered Jake’s eyes. “I d—didn’t …”

Laughter burst through Nick’s rotten teeth.

Jake turned and tripped, grazing his hands on the salt-encrusted ground.

“What…the…fuck.” Nick strolled away. “You’ll pay me, Old Man.”

Crow leant down beside Jake’s quivering face. “Don’t worry ‘bout him. He’s jus’ a silly galah.” He lifted Jake with one hand.

Jake faced Crow, unblinking and heaving for air.

“It’s all right, Jakey.”

“N—N—Nick …” Pressure built in his head and the ground swayed. “He—“ His knees buckled and he fell into darkness.

A sizzling barbeque aroused Jake to the smell of cooked lamb. Nick raged in his head. The vision had opened his cage of self-doubt, and now with the final feather in place, his mind flew free on a path to help Crow. He dashed outside and found Crow on the veranda.

“Hiya, Jakey.”

Jake dived onto a chair next to him.

“How ya feelin’?” Crow asked.

He put his face in his hands, not knowing where to start. “Huh?”

“You passed out.”

He dropped his arms. “Where’s Nick?”

“Out fencin’ with your father.” Crow set down two plates of lamb chops and salad. “I was hopin’ you’d eat—“

He pushed his meal away. “Where’s your guns?”

“Locked in the shed.”

Jake scraped his chair back. “I hate Nick.”

Crow grinned. “Me too.”

“Well…why is he here?” He held his breath.

“He has a purpose ‘ere at the moment.” Crow chewed on a chop. “When he’s done his job, he’ll be on his way.” He slapped a fly on the table so hard the plates jumped. “You can be sure of that.”

“But he’s dangerous.”

Crow sipped a beer like time did not matter.

Jake sprang up. “I just know it.”

“Well, I know stuff too, Jakey, and I have a feelin’ we need his help ‘ere.” He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and leant back.

“I have a feeling too…and…and he’s got to go.”

“Listen.” Crow exhaled. “I was passin’ through town a couple of weeks back and I jus’ had an urge,” he picked up his beer, “and stopped at the pub. That’s where I found ‘im. Said he was tryin’ to get away from the city.” He took a long swig. “I hadn’t really been too focused on harvest this year, but I took one look at ‘im and knew he could help me out. Then I ran with the idea and got you and ya dad up too.”

Jake marched into the backyard, trying to contain his frustration, dry grass scratching his bare feet. The sun had just set. He took a deep breath and turned back. The iron roof of the home glowed under a full moon. A chill crawled up his back like a spider.

The rumble of a tractor approached.

He ran back. “The full moon’s tonight?”

“Sure is.”

He spun to the work yard. A tractor drove in, followed by the utility. He whipped his head back. “Nick’s back.”
Crow collected the plates. “Everything will be fine. Trus’ me. Why don’t you get yerself an early night? You’ll need it.”

Jake paused, defeated. “J—just be careful.” He went to his bedroom and peered through the curtains.

Walking like every muscle cramped, his father returned to the house. Nick strutted to his caravan in the work yard.
Jake paced the room.

His father staggered in and slumped onto his bed on the other side of the room. “How’s your day?”

“D—Dad.” Jake stood still.

“Yeah?” His father sat up and rubbed his beard stubble.

He struggled to swallow. “Remember I said I knew Mum’s crash was going to happen?” He dove his fidgeting hands into his pockets.

Karl let his face drop and exhaled. “Yeah.”

“And y—you said I w—was crazy?”

“I don’t think you’re crazy…ya know.” He cupped his hands on his face. “You’re just not well… Not well at all.”

“D—Dad.” His body trembled. “I knew Mum was going to die and I did nothing about it.” He wiped his sleeve across his nose. “Because people think I’m mad.” He threw his arms up. “I see things all the time…Bad things…Before they happen.”

His father shook his head. “Shit, Jake. I’m ready to go home.”

“Dad, Nick is going to shoot Crow…tonight.” He burned with rage.


He stepped closer. “I want your help.”

“What the hell are you on about? We’re not doing anything.” He laid back down. “If I wasn’t so knackered I’d leave now. Go to sleep.”

Jake climbed into his blankets. His body shuddered. He knew he was on his own. He tossed and turned for hours at a loss for what to do.

A tapping at the window cut through the silence. Jake scurried to the bedhead. His hands trembled. He snatched the curtains aside. A crow perched on the windowsill, staring at him with its midnight-black eye. It cawed and flew away into the darkness. Jake jumped back.

Moonlight slipped through a gap in the curtains, lighting Jake’s father snoring in bed. Jake crept past and out of the room. Floorboards creaked and the back door groaned open.

A lightning storm danced on the horizon.

Gravel crunched underfoot across the work yard and into the shed. Jake tugged the cold steel handle on the safe and it held firm.

He crept back towards the house. Shadows cast in the moonlight stretched across the work yard like dark claws. Goosebumps crawled up his arms.

Nick’s caravan door screeched.

Jake froze. Sweat burst through every pore on his body.

Nick swayed in the doorway, the interior light throwing his shadow over Jake. Nick sucked on a glass pipe whilst holding a lighter to the end. He pulled the pipe out. “What ‘cha doing sneakin’ ‘round, you little pussy?” Nick fell back with a crash and laughed.

Jake sprinted inside and pulled the covers over his head, straining to slow his breaths.

Footsteps creaked on the veranda, each step shooting fear into him. He peered through the window. Nick snatched open the back door. Jake leapt off the bed and pressed himself against the bedroom door. Drawers and cupboards opened around the home. A set of keys rattled.

The footsteps disappeared outside. Jake sprang to the window and fogged it with his breath. A dark figure went into the shed.

Just be quiet, just be—

Crow walked outside.

He placed a shotgun by Jake’s window, and strolled into the shed.

Jake launched out of bed, crashing onto the floor in a tangle of blankets. He scrambled outside, picked up the gun, and scurried to the side of the shed. He leant back against the corrugated iron wall. Sweat trickled into his mouth.

The thunderstorm rumbled.

The gun safe clanked open.

“Nick,” said Crow with his calm voice.

“Oi, what the fuck?” yelled Nick.

Jake strained to stand, but his trembling legs collapsed and he slumped to the dirt. The gun barrel shook in front of his face. The smell of oiled metal churned his stomach.

“You’re nuthin’ but a thief…and a murd’rin’ coward.”

“What? Hey…hey, Old Man. There’s been no murder.” A shrill laugh erupted. “Not yet anyways.”

“I know who you are.”

“You know fuck all…Old Cunt. You should’a paid me…I need my fix. I just need it. Okay. Now I’m taking this shit and your ute too.”

“You’re goin’ all right,” said Crow, “but not where you think.”

Nick laughed.

“You killed my niece.”

Nick went silent.

Thunder clapped overhead.

“You killed ‘er in that crash and ran ‘way like the coward ya are.”

Images crashed into Jake’s mind.

Nick leapt from the four-wheel drive into the blood-stained shattered glass on the road and ran away.

“Wh—“ Nick’s voice quietened.

“And I aint lettin’ ya get away with it.”

“You aint doin’ shit, Old Man.”

Jake’s heart pounded.

“Nick, do it,” Crow screamed. “Do it, you murd’rin’—“

An explosion shook the shed.

Jake’s eyes snapped open. Lightning streaked across the sky. He leapt to his feet. He pulled the gun’s stock into his shoulder and steered the sights into the work yard.

Nick wandered between the sights, saw Jake, and stopped. He grinned and lowered his own gun. “Pussy.”

Jake held his aim firm.

The back door slammed open. “Jake,” yelled his father.

Nick looked to Karl.

“Nick,” shouted Jake.

Karl halted. “What happened?”

“Fuck off.” Nick raised his gun at Karl.

Jake snatched the trigger. Nick flew sideways. He yanked the action back and forth, clenched the trigger, and repeated the cycle until the last few pulls ended with empty clicks.

Nick’s twisted body lay face-down, gargling and choking.

Jake’s ears rung. Adrenaline surged through him. He dropped the gun and ran to Crow.

Crow lay on his back, caressing a wound on his chest. “Jakey.” He gasped.

Jake trembled a sob.

Blood trickled out the corner of Crow’s mouth. “You did it.”

“No, I didn’t. You’re shot. I did nothing.” Jake dropped to his knees and put a hand on Crow’s wound. “Yet again.”

“I have cancer and it was ‘bout to kill me.” Crow gasped. “I chose to go on my terms.”

Warm blood oozed through Jake’s fingers. “What?”

Crow’s hands slumped to his sides. “I have visions too, Jakey. Like the crow, you and I always see what’s comin’.” He chuckled.

Jake cried. “I can’t do anything about them.”

“You’re not meant to.” Crow coughed a spray of blood. “Jus’ make the most of the time ya have. You became close with your mum…before she passed. You did good.” He gasped and air sucked through a hole in his chest. “Now, don’t push your father away.” He reached up and caressed Jake’s cheek with a wet hand. Jake laid his hand over Crow’s. “Look after my farm.” His hand fell.

Crow went still.

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