Nov 10, 2010 | Shelburne, VT
Nov 10, 2010

It was late in the day and Frankie was in the woods, mulching fallen leaves.

"You been to the new Sirloin Saloon?" he said.

"Not yet," I said. "You?"

"Went once," he said. "Nice in there."

"They still have the buffalo heads and Indian stuff?" I said.

"No, Perry took those with him when he left," he said.

"What's it like now?" I said.

"Same kind of atmosphere, 'cept there's talk they're gonna put in a dance floor."

"A dance floor!"

"Yeah — I don't know," he said. "I think that'd really ruin it. Whole place'd fill right up with rowdies."

He kicked some leaves with his foot.

"I sure hope they don't do it," he said. "You see, you put in a dance floor and before you know it in come the rowdies."

Frankie shook his head and turned to watch Virgil, who was chasing what he thought was a squirrel. But it was really just the wind.

"Oh," said Frankie, turning back to me. "I saw something very strange this morning — something very very strange."

"What's that?" I said.

"Well, I was out on my morning drive, just like usual, just checking things out, you know? And I was coming up to the ditch near the turn to the beach — you know, the one on the way to the Sterns' place. Anyway, I see all these feathers out in the field, and I see two birds standing over the feathers. As I get closer, I can see they're hawks and they're standing over the carcass of another bird, but I can't quite see what it is."

"Maybe a turkey?" I said.

"Coulda been, but couldn't say. And so I round the corner in the truck, and I get real close to these two birds. And one of these birds, he flies off — up into a tree across the field. But the other one, he doesn't fly off. He just keeps standing there. And so I get closer, and pull up right next to the feathers, just a few feet away from the bird, and you'll never believe it — this bird, this hawk, he just keeps standing there, and he puffs up his wings and spreads 'em out and stares right up at me as if to say, 'Stay away from my bird!' You know, the kind of thing a bird would do to intimidate another bird. But this hawk was doing it to me! Me and my truck!"

"So what happened?" I said. "Did he fly away?"

"No, he just stood there, glaring at me for a minute, and then I drove right past him, down to the lake."

"Confident hawk," I said.

"I guess so," said Frankie. "I guess he sure was."

He shuffled around in the leaves.

"I guess he knew he had something."