That Old Rooster - repost
“Jackie. Jackie, it’s time to get up. The days can be hot in July, so do your chores while it’s cool.”
“Ah Mommy, do I have to? I’m still sleepy.”
“Hustle along. The chickens are hungry and don’t forget to gather eggs, too. I’ll have breakfast ready when you’re finished.”
I dragged myself out of bed. Feeding those chickens and gathering eggs weren’t my favorite chores. The truth was, the hens were okay, I just didn’t like that old rooster. Every chance he got, he chased me, and this morning, I feared, wasn’t going to be any different from every other morning. I was going to be five this fall, and I wished I could be old enough to stand up to that old rooster.
Where will that old rooster be today? I wondered as I walked across the barnyard, carrying chicken feed. Each morning, he strutted back and forth like a king in his court, but this morning, I didn’t see him.
“Here chick, chick; here chick, chick,” I yelled, scattering seed and cracked-corn on the ground. Each hen ran to find her share. Glancing around the pen, I couldn’t see him. I knew he was there, lurking where I least expected. Yesterday, he waited like a lion until I wasn’t watching, and then, out of hiding, he charged at me and chased me. I disliked that old rooster, but the hens were hungry, and I had to gather the eggs.
After scattering the remaining feed on the ground, I picked up my basket and went into the chicken coop. The hens had been busy laying eggs. There was an egg in the first nest, an egg in the second nest, and another, and another.
Picking up the last egg, I heard his clucking. I spun around toward the sound. Standing at the chicken-coop’s door, that old rooster blocked my retreat: I was trapped. For several moments, the two of us stood facing each other, his head bobbing and jerking from side to side, clucking, ready for a fight. That old rooster advanced with his wings spread wide, and I countered with my basket in hand. He moved right, I circled left. He stopped and looked at me, head cocked. I stopped and watched what he would do next. Reminiscent of the OK Corral, chicken-coop style, we eyed each other’s every movement: both jockeyed for the best face-off position. Without warning, he attacked with flapping wings and loud squawking.
Swinging my basket, I hit him square on the left side of his head. He rolled on the floor and got up for another round. Again, and again, he came at me. With each new attack, I swung my basket and missed: that old rooster had learned the power of my basket and avoided it.
He kept charging at me, and I kept swinging my basket. At last, a lucky shot struck him with a full-body blow, and he went down. I knocked the wind out of him. He got up, slowly walked through the chicken-coop’s door, and staggered into the pen.
He had enough for today. There wasn’t any fight left in him. I won the great chicken-coop standoff. My feelings of victory were short lived; however, for in the scuffle, I nearly lost all the eggs.
~ ~ ~
Several days later, that old rooster escaped from the chicken pen. How he got out was a mystery to me, but today, there would be another showdown with him. I wanted to corral that old rooster before Daddy came home, yet try as I could, that old rooster always got away. Each time I cornered him, I didn’t know how to catch him; so, he ducked and ran. In frustration, I threw stones at him, which only made that old rooster madder, and madder. We didn’t like each other, but now, he must have truly hated me. This afternoon, I feared, was going to be long and exasperating.
I heard Daddy’s car coming down the road, and that old rooster was still loose. I was exhausted from chasing that old rooster, and he, on the other hand, must have been planning revenge all afternoon.
Daddy parked the car. “Hi, Jackie, how was your day?”
I was going to answer him, when Annie, my baby sister, came half-walking, half-running across the lawn to greet him.
“Hi, Annie, let me see my little girl.”
“Daddy, Daddy,” she squealed in delight.
That old rooster spied her: revenge at last. He charged at her with wings flapping and loud squawking. Annie screamed, started crying, and ran all the harder to Daddy. That old rooster was hot on her tail and was about to reach her.
“I’ll teach him a lesson,” said Daddy as he picked up a broom and swung it at the charging rooster. That old rooster wasn’t deterred. He dodged the broom and kept charging. Daddy swung and missed again, and again. Each time, that old rooster sidestepped the broom and continued his attack.
A major battle for dominance of the farmyard was unfolding before my eyes. That old rooster versus my Daddy: winner takes all. Daddy hit him with a glancing blow, but that old rooster got up and kept attacking.
Annie screamed, and Mommy came out of the house to see what the commotion was. She gathered Annie in her arms as the battle raged in front of us.
Back and forth they went. I saw Daddy getting angry: he swung the broom harder, and faster, and his neck and face flushed red with blood. Soon, broom bristles and rooster feathers filled the air. It was almost comical, but at the same time, deadly serious.
That old rooster lunged again, and Daddy swung the broom, striking that old rooster alongside his head with its shaft. I heard a loud “crack!” and instantly knew what the sound meant. To my amazement though, like an accomplished acrobat, that old rooster flipped over once in midair and landed flat on his back, wings spread outward, head turned to one side, and claws toward the sky.
I never again had to worry about that old rooster. He was quite dead.
~ ~ ~
Annie and I cried when that old rooster was served for the evening meal. As much as I disliked that old rooster and considering all the grief he had caused me, I couldn’t bring myself to the point of eating him. To me, dinner’s main course didn’t seem like a proper ending to that old rooster’s life. On the other hand, Daddy enjoyed every morsel.
“No use letting good meat go to waste,” he said, all the while chomping on a tasty, southern-fried drumstick.