Apache, the conquering hero.
My heart is beating wildly in my chest. Is he hiding around the corner? He used to be so cute. Now, he is a monster. The hormones of puberty took over, and this particular young rooster is filled to the brim with brutish impulses. He is Rambo of the chicken yard, defending his territory. He wants to slit our throats with his razor sharp spurs. He’ll do anything to keep us out.
The first time he attacks me, he approaches from behind. He leaps up with a flurry of flapping wings. His claws extend searching to latch onto my flesh. He is squawking loudly. His shrill war cry echoes off the chicken coop. I feel his claws penetrate my skin. I screech in pain. He pecks at the back of my head.
I run. I wave my hands behind me smacking and shoving at him blindly. He tumbles off my back.
I make a beeline for the exit.
I dash through the gate slamming it behind me.
I turn to hook the latch. My attacker stares at me with red-rimmed eyes. His brilliant crimson comb stands rigid on the top of his head. He crows, and his wattles wiggle as he declares his triumph over the human.
I feel the stinging of scratches on the tops of my shoulders. I reach up and touch the sore spots. My fingers come away coated with blood. I sprint to the house.
“Mom!” I yell, throwing the door to the house open. “Mom! The rooster tried to kill me!”
“What?” Mom answers. “Come here, I can’t hear you.”
I race up the stairs.
Mom is kneading dough on the kitchen counter. She pounds it with her fists.
I feel my stomach rumble. “You’re making bread?” I ask.
She looks my way, “Yes,” she replies as her eyes drop to my hands. “What’s that on your fingers.”
I think about the soft bread with melted butter. “Um. Blood— When is the bread going to be ready?” I question as my tummy speaks again.
Mom wrinkles her brow, “Where’s the blood from?” she demands.
“The stupid rooster. I think he’s trying to kill me.” I said in a nonchalant way, still thinking about the bread. The bread turns into cinnamon buns in my mind. I like them much better than bread. “Are you making cinnamon buns?”
“Debby! Focus,” Mom grumps, “What happened to you? And where exactly are you hurt?”
I reach up and touch the back of my shoulder. “He scratched me here. He snuck up behind me, and— Bam, he jumped up on my back. Then he tried to slice my neck open.”
Mom rolls her eyes and lifts a floury hand. She waves me closer. “Let’s see.”
She studies my war wounds, and then heaves out a sigh. “ They aren’t too deep but you better wash them out and put Polysporin on them.” She shakes her finger at me, “From now on you carry a big stick when you are feeding chickens and gathering eggs. If he goes after you again— Let him have it!”
“Let him have the stick?” I question with a grin.
Mom shakes her head, “ You know what I mean.”
“Do I kill him?”
“No.” Mom said with exasperation in her voice. “Just give him a whack, so he’ll leave you alone.”
I squint my eyes and look at her through the little slits, “What if I accidently kill him?”
She shrugs her shoulders, “Then you kill him.”
I shake my head and look at the floor, “But I’ll feel bad.” I confess with sadness in my tone.
Mom puts a powdery hand to her head, “Debby, for God sakes— just go and tend to your scratches. I’m sure you won’t kill him.”
“Okay.” I answer with a nod, wandering away. I come to a sudden halt “But when do I get my cinnamon bun?” I ask.
Mom channels a demons glare.
It wasn’t just me that the rooster tried to kill. It did the same thing to my sisters, both my big sister Cheryl, and my little sister Shannon. It even did it to mom. The big stick became a permanent fixture outside the chicken pen gate.
Then one day, Cheryl, Shannon, and I were brushing the horses by the chicken’s pen. We had our horses tied up to the fence across the way.
The sun was shining high casting short shadows on the ground. Our horses were relaxed in the heat of the day. We were all feeling sedate. When out of the blue Shannon shrieks at the top of her lungs.
She is pointing behind us.
Cheryl and I turn to see why Shannon is hollering.
It’s the demoniac rooster. He is free, and now he is high stepping through the grass toward us.
We race away from the horses, far enough away to be out of rooster range.
However, it’s not us he wants. He is captivated by by the horses tails. In particular, Cheryl’s horse Apache. The rooster shows excellent taste, because Apache had the most lavish tail of all the horses. The singer of Cock-a-doodle-doo was smitten. He sticks his head right into the thick flowing tail hairs, and gives his head a shake. The bewitched rooster withdraws his head from the hair and studies the fountain of shining whiteness. He proceeds to pluck out a few strands.
The horse turns and looks at the Cock of the walk to give him a “What the hell do you think you are doing?” look.
The horse stomps a hind foot. It is a fair warning.
Be that as it may, chickens and horses do not speak the same language.
The rooster tilts his head studying the shining hair before him. Once again he darts in with his beak, snatching a cluster of hair. The rooster yanks.
Apache lashes out with a rapid kick. He connects with the rooster’s body.
We watch with broad smiles as the fowl sails through the air.
He lands with a thud to the ground. He lays there motionless.
We giggle, cheer, and slap each other on the shoulder. The evil rooster has bought the farm.
We warily approach the lifeless bird. He seems as dead as the turkey on our table for Christmas dinner, not nearly as delicious looking though.
“Poke him with a stick.” Shannon said. “Make sure he’s dead.”
Cheryl and I look at each other.
“I don’t want to poke him.” I said, “You poke him Cheryl. You’re the oldest.”
She looks at me with a frown. “Fine,” she said grudgingly, giving in to the unspoken rule the oldest is responsible for the younger kids. “But you get the stick,” she negotiates.
I smile, happy to be free from poking the rooster from hell. I retrieve a long stick from underneath a nearby tree.
Shan and I both stand back. We huddle together and watch closely, just in case the rooster jumps up to attack us.
Cheryl tip-toes in. She is barely close enough to reach the chicken with the stick. She leans over with tension in her limbs; she is a spring ready to uncoil. She prods the rooster.
The bird is no different than a log on the ground, unmoving and freed from life.
“Whoo hoo!” Shan shouts.
The reign of the rotten rooster is over.
We all go back to brushing the horses.
Every once in a while I shoot a look behind me to make sure he’s still lying there. It’s like I have a hunch all is not as it seems.
We leave the area and put our horses away. When we come back— the rooster is gone.
We never saw him again. Maybe he went back to hell where he came from, or maybe he’s still out there, waiting around a corner for you. Mwahahaha.
Actually, the truth is, the kick from Apache knocked all the cockiness out of our rooster. He became as peaceful as a dove.
My story happened a long time ago, now a days, they say you can quiet aggressive roosters by catching them, and carrying them underneath your arm while you are going about your business in a chicken pen. Apparently if you do this repetitively it will cure the roosters aggressiveness. My question is, how do you catch them, when they are stalking you? Is this where the stick comes in?