Gene Lattanzi, MA, USA
I am 34 years old at present, but my story takes place roughly 26 years ago... It is a tiny bit graphic and If you are overly sensitive, this true story may not be for you.
I was eight years old. My brother, Michael was five and our young friend/crazy next door neighbor, Steven was nine.
We all lived in a neighborhood called Riverdale. Riverdale has housed generations of people and had a peculiar and sometimes unsettling "aura" about it, for lack of a better term.
The three of us would often play in one of the neighbors back yard. The yard was surrounded by woods as well as some scattered homes. The house that belonged to the yard was very old and dilapidated, literally dry rotting and falling in on itself at the center. An elderly couple still lived within. In the yard were muddy clumps of grass, lots of hidden pieces of broken glass and roofing tiles that had slid to the ground and were just left there.
The alluring part of the yard to us was a certain tree we named the "Office Tree." i.e; whomever climbed the highest, held the highest office. Michael and Steven were like squirrels and navigated the tree as such. I was "the fat kid" and chose to stay on "The Big Rock" that jutted out from the ground directly beneath the tree. Someone had spray painted a giant eight ball on the face of it.
It was late Summer and we were playing there at around dusk, trying not to think about the upcoming school year that was just around the corner. (Picture red sunsets twinkling off of the broken glass pieces and our very long shadows on the ground.) Now, Steven was a bit of a problem child and had a skewed view of things from the get go. It was he, that noticed about twenty yards away from us, something fluttering on the dirt beneath another tree that we had dubbed "The Chin-Up tree," due to one long branch that stuck out from the base just high enough for us to show off at. What it was was a baby robin!
Worried, we all scampered over to it and saw to our grief that it had fallen out of the tree and broken a wing. After much deliberating, Steven being convinced that because he had picked up the bird, it's parents would abandon the bird because "our" scent was all over it. So... (Brace yourselves.)
Steven killed the bird with his pocket knife.
My brother and I were scared of Steven and didn't try to stop him. Steven plucked out the birds still beating heart. We could see it pumping furiously in his grimy hand. He then put the heart in my hand where I felt it beating and slowing. I put it in my brothers hand, where it beat once or twice more then stopped. Dead.
We all stood and stared at each other with tears in our eyes at what we had witnessed, at what WE were all a part of.
We buried the bird and it's heart in the ground and said some prayers over it and begging forgiveness for what we did. Exhausted, we all went home.
Perhaps a week or so later, we went back to the "Office Tree" and I to the "Big Rock" having forgotten last weeks travesty, as kids are wont to do. We were doing our thing, when all of a sudden, from no where and everywhere at the same time, a sound so loud and so filled with rage, rent the very air around us. I remember feeling like I had been hit on the head from behind, because I saw stars in my vision....
Then it faded with a snarl. Silence.
We all stood dumb with shock and fear. Steven looked down at me from the tree and said: "Did you HEAR that???!!!" "Nope." I said lying. "Let's just pretend we didn't hear that and keep playing." So, we did just that for a few seconds before....
Again, stars in my vision. Michael and Steven tore out of that tree like squirrels. I was stunned and frozen for several seconds before I was able to run and actually pass them to be safe at home.
Was it the robins angry spirit that had come back to regale us with its fury for being so wronged? I believe so.
If there is an epilogue to this story, it is that since that incident, over the years I have been put upon the path of many, many wounded and dying animals. I feel that because of my involvement I was meant to bring comfort to ease their suffering. Some animals lived. Some have not. But I was there as a buffer for them.