The Vulture

"Have mercy on me!" I cried as the vulture plunged its beak deep into my neck, again and again. I had lost track some time ago how many times it had thrust its beak into me. The vulture said nothing; of course it couldn't talk. The air wheezed through my throat and my eyes inflated into two large spheres. I studied my attacker: a large bird, practically naked, with two monstrous wings. Now the vulture moved lower, pecking at my chest. Clumps of tumbleweed lay scattered on the ground. I hadn't noticed them before, but they were of no use to me--and there were no trees or bushes for escape. And yet escape was impossible, because I was unable to move my legs. The only bodily appendages I did control were my arms. These I flung about wildly; I had long ago given up actually trying to hit the vulture and now simply swung my arms in a pathetic display of impotence. Armed resistance was out of the question: I possessed no weapons; nor did words have any effect on the vulture: it had shown no response to the vulgarities I had hurled at it throughout the day.

When a man approaches death he often realizes his life is drawing to a close, likewise I realized my end was probably near. And yet I was truly puzzled at this execution--that was what it was--and throughout the day I held steadfastly to my innocence. I looked up into a torrid, blue sky, searching for an answer to my predicament, something to give meaning to my life's final moments, but I saw only the blinding sun, directly overhead, whose rays scorched the earth.

I looked back down--the vulture was preparing another blow. "You belong to the dead, you damn bird," I cried, if for no other reason than to break the now deafening silence. The vulture moved to my arms, having finished with the chest. My heart had been carefully pecked around so as not to upset its beating. Surprisingly, nothing ached. I had given myself up for lost and was sinking into a pit of despair when suddenly the vulture stopped. I heard a sound off in the distance, and looking up, I saw a huge, black mass descending over the mountains. "Call to your friends..." I said, speaking with as much force as I could muster with my nearly collapsed lungs, but the words froze in midair and fell silently to the ground. Even nature was conspiring against me. The vulture smiled slyly as it studied my decrepit condition. Is it finally full? I thought. Or is this the moment before it sends me to my death? My arms lay on the ground, merely tendons and a bit of rotting flesh. My throat was gone, my brain was gone, my chest was filled with holes. Hardly was I presentable to any woman! The vulture drew up to its full height, as tall as any mountain, pulling its giant head back, its beak razor sharp, and its eyes glowing like two exploding suns. It aimed for my groin. I knew it would not miss. And suddenly all was clear to me, the truth emerging out of the skies like the dawn of a new day: it was not my death that was intended, but my injury, not the loss of my life, but of my manhood.

"Stop!" I cried, half in terror at what this would mean for my romantic life, half in disgust at the ugliness of this creature who would stoop to any low to satisfy its wormy appetite. Much to my amazement, the vulture drew back abruptly. It hesitated a moment--perhaps my cries had touched some vestige of compassion deep within? It uttered a horrid croaking sound and sibilated uncontrollably.

And then, quite unexpectedly, it spoke:

"You have only to say so," it said. Then it flew away.