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The Summer of Disemboweled Chickens

Going moonbat all over my own comments section reminded me of one glorious Walt Disney Summer on the farm. I guess I was 15, stuck by myself out in the middle of nowhere, bored silly.

We kept a small flock of Araucana chickens for the eggs. Well, probably not genuine Auraucanas, which are quite rare, but a mongrel breed more properly called Easter Egg Chickens. Ours were white and laid blue and green eggs. I wonder why they’re called Easter Egg Chickens.

At some point, my mother decided we needed a rooster. Being a good hippie, Mother believed all animals had to have lots of sex to be happy, so she bought our hens a little Rhode Island Red rooster. He was half the size of the hens. Mother called him a “banty rooster” — which I suppose is a corruption of “bantam.” She called obnoxious little men “banty roosters” too.

And he sure was an obnoxious little fucker. He screwed those hens halfway to perdition. After a month, not a one of them had any feathers on her back. They sure didn’t look happy to me — whenever a chicken saw him strutting nearby, she plopped down in the grass in a frantic effort to deny him snootch. When he took his afternoon constitutional, you could see them pop up and down like fluffy white mushrooms all over the lawn.

He had a crap sense of timing, too. Used to crow at three in the morning. My room was actually a little trailer on the opposite side of the chicken house from the main house (a trailer! Let the banjo jokes commence!), so I bore the brunt of all that cocka-doodle-doo shit. God, I hated that bird.

Once, I leaned out my back door and pitched an entire box of miniature Gideon New Testaments at him, one by one, trying to shut him up. The question is, what was I doing with an entire box of miniature Gideon New Testaments? This I do not know.

But one morning, it wasn’t crowing, but a weak, fluttery cackling that woke me. I found him lying in the hen yard, disemboweled. If the hens were just a leeetle bit brighter, I might’ve suspected them, but this had possum written all over it. Possums chew out the soft bits and leave the rest.

Oh, dear god. He was still breathing.

I went back in and got a .22 target pistol. The chicken yard was fenced in, overhead and all (another reason not to blame a dog, but something sneaky like a possum). The only access was through a window in the henhouse, so I couldn’t get all that close to him. It was a crap pistol and I was (quite frankly) a pretty crap shot. I steadied the barrel against the chicken wire and squeezed the trigger.

He hopped up like Lazarus and ran, trailing extremely important parts of himself. Shit. Now I’ve got a running target. Every time he slowed down, I took a shot, which didn’t give him much but a renewed vigor. All hail the mighty chicken torturer! I finally ran out of ‘mo, and he fell over, whether dead or exhausted, I don’t know. I was too rattled to check for sure. Anyway, he’d be better off dying his way than having me continue to shoot bits off him.

Sure enough, I was walking across the yard a few days (and another disemboweled chicken) later and saw a possum bumbling through the grass. He did the standard thing when I walked over. Have you ever seen one play possum? It’s eerie. Even if you know they’re faking, you don’t quite believe it. I kicked him over with my toe and then went in for a gun. He was gone by the time I got back. My stepfather was furious with me, but what was I going to do? Crush his ickle skull?

Mother let the chickens roam free after that, thinking they’d be safer roosting in the trees. They really do come home to roost, you know. But still they kept disappearing, one every few days. Now it probably was a neighbor’s dog; now there was nothing left but a dusting of white feathers.

I wanted to redeem myself. I took a flashlight and taped it to the barrel of my grandfather’s old .22 rifle. As tactical assault weapons go, it was better than fluffy knuckles or ninja throwing kittens.

And finally, late one night — I think we were down to our last chicken — I woke to a squawk. It was a nasty damp, hot August night, like being snuggled in Satan’s armpit, and I burst out the back door in nothing but my underpants and plinking rifle. Shoes would’ve been so sweet right about then.

My flashlight picked up a clump of white feathers. Too late? No, no…it was a trail. I followed dollops of white across the front yard and around the side. It was black as india ink and all I could see was a bouncing ring of grass under the flashlight and that eerie white dotted line disappearing into the black. When I got out onto the long, sloping field out back, the thing stopped and turned to face me, and this is exactly what I saw:


My stepfather was positive it was the neighbor’s german shepherd. Me, I’m pretty sure that there is the Devil’s slavering flame-eyed sulphurous spectral soul-sucking weasel hound from hell. Whatever. With my marksmanship, I sure wasn’t taking a shot at it.

What if I missed?

What if I didn’t?

March 21, 2007 — 5:57 pm
Comments: 3