The story of the chicken who sort of crossed the road.
Chapter 1 – Bakaak.
Many stories are told about ‘why the chicken crossed the road’, but I’ve found that none of them are very accurate, and very few mention anything about the chicken itself. More importantly, none of the stories explain that the chicken did not, in fact, cross the road. Well, not exactly.
Allow me to start from the beginning.
First of all, the chicken’s name was Bakaak, and we shall call him a ‘he’, because he deeply despised how humans kept calling him ‘it’. He was, after all, a person. Not a human person, granted, but a person nonetheless. In his opinion, if you had a personality, you were a person, and Bakaak knew he had more personality in him than the San Pedros, in whose backyard Bakaak lived.
Because chicken family trees are fairly difficult to trace (see Papers on Chicken Genealogy by William D. Roost) and have been the subject of various complicated topics of discussion (see I or the Egg – Which came first? by Dawn I. Crowe), I will excuse myself from explaining Bakaak’s descent by saying that he knew nothing of his parents except that he had a vague memory of being sat on as an egg. Unfortunately, chicken instincts are not so refined as to enable one to identify one’s parents solely on the basis of the warmth of a person’s ass, so from the moment he broke free from his shell, aided by huge gloved human hands, Bakaak has lived alone.
Unless you also have little orphan chickens in your own back yard, you will probably not understand the peculiar things chickens do when they get bored, or in Bakaak’s case, lonely. Like, for example, shouting as loud as they can at the crack of dawn. Usually, in every chicken colony, the daybreak noise begins with one bored little chicken shouting “the sun is here and I am so freakin’ bored!!” and every other chicken shouting at him to shut the hell up. He doesn’t stop of course, and this goes on until every chicken, and every human in the immediate vicinity, is awake.
Another rather annoying thing lonely orphan chickens tend to do is tease the cat, which is especially annoying to the other chickens when the cat starts chasing them. Cats are stupid like that – they can’t really tell one chicken from another. All they see is ‘food’.
I admit I digress a little from the main point of the story, which is to explain why Bakaak crossed the road, because while it might suffice to simply say that he crossed the road to get to the other side (that is, after all, why we humans cross roads), this is not entirely accurate for Bakaak’s case, and would be doing him a great injustice. On the other hand, if I explained that Bakaak crossed the road because he was no longer lonely, and because the cat had asked for forgiveness, and because Lucy San Pedro missed school one day, this would not really make a lot of sense if you did not know Bakaak’s story. So please, a little patience while I digress.
Chapter 2 – Lucy.
I guess now would be a good time to introduce Lucy.
But maybe not the real Lucy. Not the Luzviminda San Pedro who lived two blocks away, the niece of the San Pedros Bakaak knew. Not the nine-year-old girl whose mother hit her and whose father did things I cannot describe in this story, for that girl is gone, and if you searched for her, all you would find is a sad, sad tale of a girl who died much too young.
Let us instead limit our introduction to the girl Bakaak knew, the short pink-skinned human who crossed the street some mornings to look through the wire-mesh fence at him. The other chickens always ran away, shouting “human! human!” and cowering in the henhouse, leaving Bakaak to face the short pink human alone.
“Die!” Bakaak said the first time they met, delivering a rather painful peck to her stubby hand. The girl winced, then smiled, then offered her hand to him through the fence. Confused, he pecked at it again, and again, and again until it bled, and the girl began to cry. She withdrew her hand, said goodbye to Bakaak (“Bye, Chickee!” she said), and left for school. That was the first of many encounters Bakaak would have with the short pink human, and the first of many times he would be called Chickee.
If chickens understood the human need to name and rename everything, they would have noticed that Lucy came to visit on the mornings of days named ‘monday’, ‘wednesday’ and ‘friday’, and would spend whole ‘saturday’ afternoons looking through the fence. To the chickens of the San Pedro coop, however, the short pink human simply came on ‘some days’, and not on ‘other days’, and to Bakaak, the ‘some days’ had slowly become quite fun.
It took eight visits and a dozen band-aids before Bakaak stopped pecking Lucy’s hand, deciding that this particular human was not at all dangerous. She brought handfuls of rice grain sometimes, which wasn’t really much as she had small hands, but was enough to get the other chickens to warm up to the girl as well. “I’m Lucy,” she kept telling them every time they came out from their hiding places and got close enough to hear. “I’m Lucy,” she said again as they pecked the grain from her hand. “Food!” they said, although the girl could not understand them. “I’m Lucy,” she repeated. After a while, Bakaak looked up to her, the short pink human child who knelt on the sidewalk across the fence, and he thought, “I am Bakaak.” And then, “Lucy.”
When she ran out of grain, the chickens dispersed and Bakaak dispersed with them, immediately forgetting the pink human’s name. She stood up, patted her dusty knees, and walked on home. “I’m Lucy,” she whispered to herself, as though she might forget it if she did not say it enough.
This happened on a ‘saturday’.
Chapter 3 – A short paragraph about what happened on ‘sundays’.
On ‘sundays’ (which came after ‘saturdays’), Lucy’s uncle Mr. San Pedro took a knife from the kitchen and a chicken from the yard and took them both to the shack behind the house. This ‘sunday’ he took Blinky, one of the older hens in the henhouse, one of the few chickens Bakaak did not find entirely stupid. She had a brown tuft of feathers on her head that Bakaak found ‘uber-cool’ (“you’ve got horns!” he said), and had a nice earthy smell that Bakaak liked. “You smell like worms,” he would tell her sometimes. “That’s nice, dear” she would reply, and then she would tell him a story. She had told him three whole stories before she was taken behind the house, and when someone pointed out one day that he had grown a small brown tuft of feathers on his head (just like Blinky’s, they said), Bakaak tried his very best to remember what those stories were.
(continued in Chapter 4 – The Cat.)