Then ahead I saw a small, dark shape perched on the sand, well back from the water. As I drew closer, the shape revealed itself to be a bird, sitting back on its tail feathers. It was vaguely penguin-like, about eighteen inches tall, with black back and head, white breast and cheeks.
After fifteen years in prison I was beginning to assume my life couldn’t get any more lopsided and annoying, but now some cruel functionary has started a war against the local swallows.
My father and brother constructed the trap in the basement workshop. I followed them to the forest behind the barn, where they would set it. We lived on a thirteen-acre farm called Merryview, where we raised horses — hunters, jumpers, and Shetland ponies — along with other animals.
No one in prison is ever coming back. Once we’ve served our time, everything is finally going to work out. We’re all going to stay in touch, so we can share our good news — except I’ve been giving out a fake phone number this entire time. I’m embarrassed to know these men, eyewitnesses to a shameful period of my life I can’t wait to live down: two years in prison for a nonviolent offense.