Yesterday I posted a silly little short story called “Awkward.”
HRC commented that she thought the story was going to be about a chicken. And there is a good reason for that.
When I was young it seemed that life was so wonderful. A miracle. Oh it was beautiful… magical. And all the birds in the trees…
And chickens on the ground.
You see, at some point in my youth, my father decided that we should get some chickens.
Which was a little odd, you know, considering we didn’t live on a farm or anything.
So, he got some kind of shed deal and built a little pen next to it. A chicken coop was born.
I think he purchased a dozen chickens. May have been as many as twenty.
The only memory that is VERY clear is the smell. My word, the smell.
How can one fully describe the olfactory assault of chicken crap? It changes you. Like Vietnam. Or seeing Britney Spears c-section scar.
When I had to collect eggs in the morning, I’d hold my breath, then run in and try to grab all the eggs and get out before taking a breath. If there were a lot of eggs, I’d be seeing spots and blacking out by the time I got that door open.
I just had a flashback of the smell.
My sister got trapped in the coop one day after school. I think she was in there for 45 minutes. My father finally heard her screaming and let her out.
There was one chicken that I remember very well. He was kind of the runt of the group. Moved slower. Missing feathers — from where other chickens pecked at him.
I called him, “Awkward.”
I hadn’t yet discovered the concept of ironic nicknames.
Awkward was my favourite chicken.
Every day I’d go out and toss extra food to him. I’d try to make sure the other chickens were leaving him alone.
(Yes, I’m aware that since Awkward was presumably laying eggs, that he most likely wasn’t actually a he. I was a cute kid. Probably not very bright though.)
If other chickens were bugging Awkward, I’d yell and swear at them and chuck pebbles.
I’d wonder at night if they were picking on him while he tried to sleep.
Awkward was my pet.
Then one day I got some terrible news…
The chicken farming experiment was over and we’d soon be eating a lot more chickens than eggs.
I was heart-broken and all :( . I tried to get my folks to spare Awkward’s life. They were not moved by my plans for letting him live in the basement or guest bedroom.
But, when D-Day came, I was nowhere around. My mother took my sister and I someplace for a drive. When I got back home, there was no more Awkward. There was, however, a freezer full of chickens.
And every time we ate one of those chickens, I’d make a sad little face and say, “This could be Awkward.”
And one of them was, I suppose.
I bet that he tasted better than those other jerkass chickens.
Jump ahead twenty years or so and my parents got a phone call one afternoon from my sister.
She yelled into the phone, “I have chicken shit eye!!!”
She had been seeing flashes and decided to see an eye doctor. He found some kind of bacteria on her eye. He asked if she had grown up on a farm. She said that she hadn’t. He told her that the usual cause of this was prolonged exposure to chicken feces.
She blamed that day that she got stuck in the coop for so long.
And then she screamed, “Chicken shit eye!!!” again for effect.
So, that is the story of Awkward and my sister’s eye.
When my folks told me about my sister’s phone call to them, I laughed. I didn’t think much of it for a few months. Then one day I had a flashback.
I totally remember locking her in the coop that sunny afternoon.
I suspect that if you asked both my sister and Awkward what I was like back then, you’d probably get very different replies.