• Mel Jones

Chickens: An Encore

Originally posted February, 2011. Like stories about Ryan, posts about Quinn went on for quite some time, look for future Quinn stories.

Some years ago, I wrote a story about some chickens that came to live on our property. (If you have not seen this story and would like to, email me). They came to be known as killer chickens; demons from some alternative universe where chickens rule and people are hunted for pleasure. True story. The killer chickens mysteriously disappeared, and I thought this sad chapter in my life was behind me.

Enter Quinn.

Cute isn’t he?

We rescued him. He was found scampering about beside his deceased mother in the barn, just days old. We tried to save his unhatched siblings, but it wasn’t meant to be. Quinn was an orphan. Abandoned. Left behind by a cruel act of Fate, Nature – or some random possum or raccoon.

He was alone and he needed us.

Quinn moved into an aquarium in the kitchen. We purchased special food for him. A heat lamp. We oohed and ahhed over him, as one would with any baby. He was pampered and spoiled. We answered his every peeping with attention and affection.

Jamie was suspicious. Quinn jumped at her eye early on. She didn’t think he was cute; she had traumatic memories of other chickens jumping at her that weren’t so little or charming. Everyone else poo-hooed her attitude. Quinn is so cute! He’s grateful to us! Indebted to us! He will always be this sweet, albeit energetic, critter who will bask in our loving attention. His mother had been a shy, gentle soul. He’ll know what the human-chicken relationship is.

Then Quinn grew up.

He moved from the kitchen aquarium to the small cage in the yard, and finally to roosting in the trees with the hens. He is the lone rooster here and has no one to prove himself to. This is a problem. And we should have seen it coming. He challenged the cats, often winning. The feral tom cats would surrender their supper to the aggressive peep. They skulked away humiliated in their defeat while Quinn devoured their dinner, growing stronger and more power hungry with every victory.

I’m not exactly sure when it started. But, ever so slowly, Quinn began to stalk the human population here. He sneaks up from behind and pounces on the unsuspecting individuals (who were once secure in the knowledge that human beings are the dominant species). He waits for the best opportunity – like when someone is leaning into their car to turn the key. Some days he’s waiting under the porch to jump as soon as a foot touches the ground. Asserting his dominance. He’s drawn my blood twice. And he doesn’t have spurs yet. I don’t think he’s mean, not really. I can pick him up and pet him. I think he’s just playing.

Rooster style.

It’s a strange sort of existence with purses and backpacks becoming shields. Scarves become Capa de bregas, no matter their color. I don’t own any red scarves (red clashes with my hair). They transform into a Muleta only after victory is achieved and the car door or house door closes safely behind me. In the safety of my human-only space, I think to myself no good deed goes unpunished. Almost daily, I question the wisdom of saving him.

But the fact remains that I did save him, so now how do I fix the predicament I’m in? Do I wait to see if he will outgrow this? Perhaps it can be equated to an angsty teen’s Goth stage? Or could he be a chicken version of a serial killer? Do I buy a second rooster, giving him someone to spar with? Would that be setting myself up for tag team attacks? Is he a future gang leader? A cult leader? Will new roosters follow him around as blindly as the hens do? Hens lull humans into complacency. They’re docile, shy and sweet creatures. But don’t be fooled! Roosters are like Monty Python’s rabbit! They bop around innocently, waiting for you to believe they’re harmless and the next thing you know, they’re crazed bloody-thirst-steroid-pumped maniacs, and you’re bleeding! Never mind the dog! Beware of the Chickens.

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