Chicken Hung Phooey
By Beverly Hicks Burch
It’s been a rough couple of years. It all started a couple of years ago when Tall & Handsome was transferred. We were transferred “back where I come from” to paraphrase the Kenny Chesney song. Yep, it was even East Tennessee. I was really glad to have the chance to go back and see how things were in the place where I began my life. Well, let me tell you, things have been interesting.
To begin with the move was hair-raising. The packers had a unique technique…it was called “dump and tape”…and they were a professional van line…a national one you would know the name of quite well. Everything was either marked “food” or “décor”. Oh, there were a couple of boxes marked “clothes”. To give you an example of what we’ve been through, we unpacked one box that said “clothes” on it…well, it had one pair of underwear in it and the rest was food from the pantry and kitchen! I kid you not…
The van line arrived short-changed with truck space…and had to get another truck. We spent over $100 buying super-duper coolers to keep about a thousand dollars worth of food cold in, while they reassured us the fridge and freezer would arrive in time for the food to be secure. It took a week for them to arrive and we lost all the food.
When they unloaded the truck, they put the garage stuff in the house and the kitchen stuff in the garage. Even with me telling them it didn’t go there… It was so much fun…NOT!
And don’t even get me started on the house, landlady and T & H’s job. Those will be other fun, informative blogs altogether from this intrepid blogger. Maybe some will involve landmark revelations…
But, for now, I have to tell the story of something I had never seen before in my entire life…and I’ve seen some pretty weird things…this one started like this…
We have not met our neighbors on the northeast side the house. It just so happens the house is next to our bedroom window. We know that many people live in the house, and we’re not sure if they speak English. Sometimes, late at night, or early morning we hear mariachi music playing very loud, and Spanish being spoken. One early morning about 3:00 AM I heard some loud shouting outside the window on the side of the house. Then there was a noise that sounded like a gunshot, a car peeled off, and then silence. After that, things have been pretty quiet. That is until about six weeks or so ago.
Let me set the mood. I always like to sleep with the window to the bedroom cracked at night for a bit of fresh air if possible. I think it has something to do with my Sjogren’s, but, I could be wrong. I’ve found being in East Tennessee the nights can by a lot more refreshing than they were in Birmingham during the summer…guess it’s that mountain air.
Now, mind you, we live in a suburb where the wildest thing you might see is a red Ford Mustang. Well, I do have a couple of bunny rabbits who have taken up residence in my back yard and I’ve marveled at that because the setting is so suburban.
Well, about six weeks ago, the Burch household was sound asleep. It was dark and calm when all of a sudden there was a sound that was so foreign to our surroundings it shattered the silence and rattled the rafters! Cock-a-doodle-dooo! God in heaven help me! What was that?! It was right on top of me! My eyes flung open…surely I was dreaming…I didn’t hear what I just heard…not for real! I lay real still and listen again. Cock-a-doodle-dooo! It was 4:30 in the morning.
All of a sudden I hear a muffled voice from T & H’s pillow, “The neighbors have gotten a darn rooster.”
About this time Watson responds to the crowing rooster. He’s running around in his “condo” (our term for his crate he sleeps in at night) like he’s running the Kentucky Derby all the time competing with the crowing rooster with his barking. I think he was thinking of fried chicken…or that there was an attack chicken on the loose and it was his job to protect us from the Big Bad Rooster.
Winfield jumped up in the window trying to find the Big Bird and push the screen out to fly the coop so to speak and see what was speaking that foreign animal language…even though it’s two stories up…
The rooster crowed for the next three hours, so Tall & Handsome and I lay in bed and debated until the sun rose why the heck the neighbors would bring a contraband animal (I seem to have read some where that farm animal were illegal in the city limits) into the neighborhood…it was so romantic. T & H said he had heard some people were getting roosters for pets. I said I wondered if it was for cock fighting or Santeria. He asked me what Santeria was and I spent the next few hours trying to explain…titillating pillow talk…all thanks to a darn rooster.
My friends, it took several mornings to get use to our friend Mr. Rooster Phooey crowing EVERY freaking morning let me tell you. Not to mention the fact that he also crows all freaking day…day in day out…but, it STILL did not prepare me for what I saw this morning (and darn it I had chicken last night!)!
Usually as the sunrises, I may get up and close the window and lower the blind. This helps the noise factor with Mr. Rooster Phooey. Well, this morning, I got up, but, as I prepared to lower the window I looked out and there before my eyes was the perpetrator…a HUGE, big white rooster with a red head and brown tail feathers and plumes. He was perched up on the post of the privacy fence between the two yards…and he was as quiet as a well…church mouse.
I thought, “Okay, I’ve seen the rooster. Now they’re not containing him properly. Ooops.” And then I started to close the window and I froze in my tracks…there at the bottom of the fence on our side was something that looked like another chicken…a dead chicken! A headless dead chicken!
People, this is not a sight you want to see out your bedroom window at 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning. It’s not a sight you want to see out your bedroom window ANY time…believe me.
Of course the minute I reacted, T & H sprang out of bed kinda like the father in the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” only this time it wasn’t any reindeer he was going to be seeing. He looked, said, “Yep, that’s a rooster and I think that’s another chicken” and he went and got the binoculars. He stared a really long time and then said, “That’s a dead chicken.”
I said, “No kidding.”
T & H then said, “He hung himself.”
“Yep. The neighbors have tied a string around those birds’ feet. The rooster has one on his foot, too and the dead bird has one on his foot. He must have hopped up on the fence, got caught, fell and hung himself. Here, take a look.”
Well, I did, and sure enough the neighbors had tied real thin twine around the birds’ feet. That darn rooster was perched up on the fence. That was the quietest he’d been since he’d moved next door…he was catatonic.
Next thing I knew Tall & Handsome is throwing on some clothes and I asked him what he’s doing. He said he was going next door and tell the neighbors they needed to get their birds off the fence. I had to agree. Dead chicken do not make nice lawn ornaments…especially spread eagle, hung upside down chickens…
He was gone for some time and I was beginning to get a little concerned. He eventually came back…and had a whole new bizarre chapter to tell in the rooster saga.
When he went to the door and knocked, the neighbors never answered the door, so T & H was left with the dilemma of handling the birds himself. Who wouldn’t want to dispose of a dead chicken, right? He was thrilled…about as much as having an ingrown toenail removed without anesthesia. As he approached the “dead chicken” he made a startling discovery…the poor stretched out, hanging by a string, seemingly lifeless chicken was not dead! It kinda rolled its eyes and fluttered around a bit. T & H got a pair of his leather gloves, picked the bird up and as it struggled and flapped its wings and beat him senseless, he tried put it back on the right side of the fence. Eventually he had to walk it back into the yard. I married a chicken wrangler…yee-haw! See what they teach those cowboys in New Mexico?
When crowing Mr. Rooster Phooey saw Tall & Handsome approaching, he got all discombobulated and started flapping and jumping up on his precarious perch on the fence and the next thing T & H knew there the poor ol’ thing hung by his foot and that twine…swinging all stretched out pitiful and helpless. I wondered then if T & H had a weak moment and thought, “I can end the sleepless mornings. No more crowing out of this one.” But, nope…there would be no Chicken Hung Phooey with Tall & Handsome around. He said he didn’t want the poor bird to suffer. He got the big ol’ crower down…freed him…put him in the yard and came home…he’s just that kind of guy. He’s got a big ol’ heart and that’s why I love him.
Oh, and we had a vegetarian Indian rice dish for dinner…some how, it just seemed the right thing to do…
© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.