Saturday, February 21, 2009
My friends, you have not LIVED until you've been chased by a headless, sqwaking chicken.
This might not be a post for the faint-of-heart. Fair warning!!
When I was a little girl, must have been pretty little, I remember riding my Big Wheel (remember those?) down the gravel road to Frank's Place, as we called it. His nephews were staying with him that summer, and as one of the boys was about our age, we sort of absorbed them all into our neighborhood group.
They were always nice to me, if they paid attention to me at all. As a little girl, I was usually just tagging along behind my older brother, but I liked to be in the mix, as it were, and so it placed me front and center one hot Saturday afternoon as the boys herded a chicken around the front yard of the house.
We lived in a country neighborhood surrounded by farms, and some of our neighbors had horses (I got bucked off one neighbor's shetland pony once), but we didn't often see chickens running around. Naturally, I was fascinated.
The boys were discussing something, and I was surprised to see one of them with an ax. The other managed to grab one chicken, and, struggling a little, finally held his neck and his legs. The eldest brother, the one with the ax, asked him if he needed any help, but no, he had the chicken.
My brother turned then, and suggested maybe I head home or go down the road for a bit He suggested I at least move my Big Wheel. I didn't want to go...I wanted to see what was going on. I think someone took a toddler, Jenny, away so she wouldn't see whatever was about to happen.
I had a bad feeling something was about to happen, but my curiosity was overwhelming. I HAD to see and wouldn't let anyone drag me away. If the other kids could be there, why not me?
The bigger kid with the ax glanced at me and asked if I was sure I wanted to be there, and when I nodded, he suggested I stand back. All of us took a step backward. My brother just shrugged. Clearly, I was staying, and clearly, I didn't understand what was about to happen.
They took the struggling, unhappy chicken and laid it on a large stump in Frank's sparse front yard, stretching its head out. One brother held the head, another held the body, and the oldest held the ax.
I never knew a chicken neck could stretch so much, and I was fascinated.
The ax fell, and as soon as he struck wood, the other brothers let go. The chicken, in mad spasms, dropped to the ground, and to my horror, it started running around!
And strangely enough, which I've never been able to figure out, it was still squawking!
The entire group of neighborhood kids began to scatter to get away from the insane headless chicken, which, to our way of thinking, should have been decent enough to lie down and die around that point.
Apparently it had ONE other thing to do, though: go chase after little curious Adoro to make sure she got a really good look.
That obscene feathered monstrosity, with its flapping body and big bloody circle where the head used to be, suddenly stopped going in circles and made a beeline for me. Now, I wasn't a particularly athletic child, but I realized I needed to RUN, and do so quickly so without a sound I ran towards my Big Wheel.
The headless chicken was hot on my heels and all I knew is that I did. not. want. that. thing. to. TOUCH me! I thought I might die. I knew it couldn't bite since the head was gone...but...it was supposed to be DEAD!
I could hear the other kids laughing, and I knew the big kids who had cut off the chicken's head were watching this event with great relish, doubled-over laughing.
I took a huge leap when I arrived at my Big Wheel, and managed to clear it in a single bound.
I'm STILL proud of that jump...I couldn't have done that under normal circumstances and all the kids there were incredibly impressed.
As it was, that contraption, probably made by Fisher-Price, saved me.
The headless chicken ran straight into one of the wheels and fell over, staggered to the side, ran in a couple lazy circles and finally decided it was most proper to lie down and die, since it didn't have its head, anyway.
I stood back several feet, shaking, wondering what the heck had just happened.
The other kids told me I could come back, and that the chicken wouldn't chase me anymore. They assured me he was done with his mischief. I wasn't so sure. But finally, out of my same mad curiosity, and wondering about the group that now surrounded my Big Wheel, I moved towards it while one of the older boys pointed to the perfectly round red circle that now decorated one of the wheels. A circle of blood. From the chicken.
Because the Big Wheel was mine, because the headless chicken had chased me, because my survival instinct had enabled me to leap the Big Wheel like Supergirl, and because it had left a big imprint...I was not the focus of derision, but of special devotion. The kind only a group of neighborhood kids knows about. They looked at me, and at my Wheels, in awe.
It was my proof that, in fact, a dead chicken had chased me, and I had lived to tell about it.
The late chicken, himself, was at that time finally lying decently in the road, bleeding out through the headless portion of his body, creating quite a red puddle, some of which was soaking his feathers. For the moment he was being ignored as the phenomena of his last act was being assessed, judged, and rendered important in our neighborhood history as one of the coolest things any of them had ever seen.
My brother refused to ride my Big-Wheel home. I had to do it. I couldn't leave it there. I had to ride it with that big red circle twirling around and around and around.
As we headed home on that hot, humid summer afternoon, I still remember looking back as I rode, and at first the circle left a mark on the packed gravel road, but afterwards, it only picked up pebbles and dirt and the like. Around and around, more and more pebbles but it only emphasized the big red splotch that had almost touched me, if my Big Wheel hadn't offered the ultimate sacrifice of being touched by the icky headless chicken.
And I peddaled harder to get away, but the bloody spot kept following.
When I parked the Big Wheel at home, the big red mark was gleaming proudly in the sun so I just went inside, hoping maybe it wouldn't be there in the morning.
I can't remember for how long, but that mark was there for WEEKS. Even when the clotted red blood went away, there was a darkened circle I refused to ever touch.
And to this day, I can't forget the headless chicken chasing me in its irrational spasms, chasing as if possessed, still squawking...still running...
What? You all look at me as if you've never HAD this experience. What...were you all raised in the city?