I followed reluctantly, finding solace in the fact that it would not be by my hand that Rocky would find the peace for which he had never searched. I watched our half dozen chicks, astonished by their beauty, their once black plumes now iridescent blues and greens with an unexpected putty and dove-white hidden beneath their wings. Never had I imagined I would find chickens remotely attractive, but I suppose the little rascals had grown on me!
In the meantime, my husband dug the ceremonial ditch and muttered something about how their blood would surely make for a good harvest. For a moment I wondered whether he might give up Sundays in church for something terrestrially pagan, but I realized he was only excited by the thought that he would be slaughtering a rooster and simultaneously making his own blood meal, sort of like killing two birds with one stone.
The time came for Rocky’s last hoorah. I handed him over to my husband who took him in his arms with a tenderness I did not expect. With a hint of hesitation, he carried him to the ceremonial hole. I could discern my husband’s voice, faint from such a distance, and within a few minutes he met me on the steps just beside the coop. The machismo had been drained from him. Taking a life, as it turned out, was no fun at all.
Within fractions of a second, we heard another cry. As we had suspected, it seemed Drumstick was a rooster as well. He challenged big daddy by spreading his wings and calling loudly. My husband asked if I would like to join him for this one, but I politely declined.
Drumstick went as quickly and quietly as Rocky, which provided some consolation, as we believed that at least they had not suffered. There was relief in knowing the deed had been done and that we could now go on with our day. My husband walked over to the garden sink to clean the knives, his gaze removed as the water ran over the blade and swept the blood away in streaks.
Cruel they were, the inhabitants of our coop. Another dark knight flapped and yapped and challenged the executioner. The sheer shock sucked the air right out of us. Deflated, we got a hold of yet another cockerel and up to the dripping hole he went. It was bye-bye-Bicycle (really, that was his name). This time I watched. Interestingly, he never called out or fought back. A mere flap of the wings, strangely honorable, was all I saw.
Well, now we’d done it! It was finally over, and all that was left was the rest of it. The propane burner came out, the folding table was draped in plastic bags and newspapers, and we were blanching our boys and plucking their feathers without fully registering the events that had preceded. My husband and I mused about the Coq au Vin we would be eating for Christmas, but grappled over how to confess to the children that we had lost one extra chicken, though we could offer to get them another to ease the pain. We were feeling confident that we would figure it all out.
Only, the joke was on us, because out of nowhere there came yet another cockle. I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and at once I stated with complete certainty that someone in our neighborhood was hiding a rooster. The sound had come from over the hill, and I was absolutely positive that some other sorry soul had brought home Kindergarten hatchlings. Those poor people would now have to find a home for their rooster or process him themselves, I thought.
My husband continued to stare in disbelief. He looked at me firmly and asked whether I was joking. Of course nobody else had a rooster, and of course there was another in our very coop, he said. I was wondering whether he was the crazy one, so I set of to disprove his hypothesis, immediately. I ran down to the coop as fast as I could. I heard nothing, save my heart pounding and the words running through my head “it’s not our rooster”! I approached and confronted Fluffy-Foot, Teri(yaki) and Toula. They looked at me as if I had escaped from the sanatorium and Toula, the nerve she had, she dared to flap her wings at me and cry "cock-a-doodle-doo"!
Et tu Tula?