When I was a kid, I had a pet turkey named Tom (creative, I know). Tom was little when he came to live with us. He was the odd ball out. The one turkey in a yard filled with lots of chickens; the only male in the hen house. If you have never lived with a turkey day in and day out, you might not know what large egos they have. This was the case with Tom for sure. He could strut across the yard better than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. It was almost impossible not to be enamored with him.
I had just gotten my drivers license when I discovered that someone had broken into my truck one night and stolen the Alpine Radio I got for Christmas. I was so upset, so mad. I had never had anything stolen before. I hopped in the truck and sped out of our long driveway in reverse. At the end of the driveway, I hit a bump. It was Tom, and although he was badly hurt, he was alive. I was crushed. The sting of the missing radio was gone, quickly replaced with my concern for Tom. I would never have hurt him.
Tom had a hole in his little red beard, and he sat a bit crooked, but we hoped he would recover. We cared for him for several weeks, and eventually he was strutting like nothing had ever happened. Well almost….
Tom had a reason to live, revenge. It seems turkeys hold onto grudges just like a person who gets blind-sided. Everyday he waited for me to walk to my truck, the same truck which I had been driving when I hit him. He would try to run up and spur me. The spurs are hard and sharp. I had plenty of reason to be afraid. He was stealthy and quick. It was an everyday ritual. I would peak out the window, trying to locate him. When I thought the coast might be clear, I would make a run for it. I had to carry a broom with me, swooshing him gently away as I came and went. And when I drove out of the driveway, I learned to be patient. He would, with his crooked little bird body, attack the tires which had attacked him. I almost ran over him again several times, even though I tried my darnedest to stay clear. He just wouldn’t give up. He was Don Quixote charging at windmills.
We even got him a little female turkey thinking that he would set revenge aside for love. But Tom was smart enough to keep vigil over the truck by day and romance her by night, a regular TOM Juan. Eventually, we found new homes for the two, a place where they could roam free from vehicles. It was, of course, the right thing to do. They grew old together there. Happily.
Tom was never meant for the table, and thankfully, he never made it there. I think of him every year as others are looking for the perfect bird for their Thanksgiving table. I wouldn’t hold a grudge at all if in the end his new life helped him forget me all together. I know I will never forget him. He was the turkey who stole my heart.