The crow picked his way along the beach, shaking green bits into his beak, enjoying a low-tide salad. A small bruised boat bobbed in the water, held to the shore by a sodden rope tied to a stake driven deep into the sand. Cocking his head, the crow hopped up on the line and tight-roped his way to the boat where he balanced on the gunwale. He screeched.
A head popped up, a head with black hair sticking straight out from around the ears and crown, looking like an unkempt Jack-of-Clubs. The head fell back into the boat unhinging the only oar as it banged down against a cooler.
Teetering from foot to foot, the crow moved up the gunwale to the cooler and tapped on it. He cawed. Two people strolling along the shore stopped to watch.
A leg stuck straight up out of the boat, acting like a lever to hoist the rest of the body up with the head. A red hand gripped the side. The crow beat on the cooler – rat-a-tatta—rat-a-tatta. It sounded like a drunken drummer missing the beat on a snare drum.
The head popped up again and looked the bird in the eye, then surveyed the shore watchers before falling back into the boat’s belly.
The bird drummed and drummed and drummed until the head sat up on its shoulders. They stared at each other. Jack-of-Clubs heeled over the side and puked.
The crow shrieked and hopped to the line, stared back at the shore-watchers. He shrieked again.
“I think he needs help,” said one.
They hauled on the slimy rope and pulled the boat to shore.
Staggering to his feet, the drunken mariner reeled out of the boat and careened up the beach with the crow leading the way, lurching from stone to slippery stone on black-stocking feet.
“Hey mister! Don’t you want your cooler?”
“No. It’s empty.”