Down East 2013 ©
Saturday morning, Charlie and me went out for breakfast down to the Busy Bee. Now that Labor Day has passed, the tourists are thinning out, so us locals can actually get a seat. My sister Irene and her husband Jimbo were planning to meet us there. We arrive to find them sitting at an outdoor table, shooting the breeze with Craig Holden.
“Hey there, Craig,” I says. “How you doing?”
Gosh, Craig must be in his forties now. He’s Snowdell Holden’s grandson. Snowdell’s the former postmistress of Mahoosuc Mills, and reigning grand poobah of the local chapter of the Red Hatters. But that’s another story.
Jimbo goes, “Craig’s trying to unload a rooster.”
“Would you like one?” Craig adds, hopefully.
Just then, we hear the strangest sound, something between a strangled cry and the sound of someone retching.
“What the hell is that?” Irene asks, as we look at each other wide-eyed.
Craig shakes his head. “It’s the rooster. He starts every morning at five. I’ve been getting up at 4:30, putting him in the pet carrier and driving him around so he doesn’t bother the neighbors. I don’t know if we’re really supposed to keep chickens in our neighborhood, and I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
Craig was looking a little tired around the eyes, I noticed.
“Why don’t you, you know, just have him for supper?” Charlie asks.
Craig sighs. “That’s our last resort.” (The rooster chimed in with another funky cock-a-doodle-do.) “I’ve been to all the farms within a thirty-mile radius, but no one will take him.”
“Craig,” I says, “if you don’t mind a little advice, having that rooster with you when you make the pitch might not be the best advertising.”
On cue, the rooster croaked his agreement.
“Can we look at him?” Jimbo asked.
We all walk over to Craig’s pickup, half a block away, the one with the plastic pet carrier in the bed. We gaze through the wire mesh, and yup, there’s a rooster.
“Nice looking bird, really,” Charlie says, and we all nod in agreement.
Just then, that rooster starts giving me the hairy eyeball. You know, like he could read my mind, like he knew I’d been thinking Craig should off him. He stares at me with one beady eye, freezing me to the spot. Then he squawks, nearly giving me a heart attack.
Trying to steady my nerves, I ask, “What’s your rooster’s name, Craig?”
“Lily. Well, that’s what we used to call him.”
I look at Charlie. He looks at me.
“Craig,” he says, “I think we’ll pass. Good luck.”
“Good luck!” we echo, as we head back to the Busy Bee.
Once we were seated, Jimbo goes, “You know, growing up with a name like Lily, I think that rooster might have some kind of identity crisis.”
“Like a ‘Boy Named Sue’!” I says.
“I think Craig needs to man up,” Charlie adds, “and do what has to be done.”
We all agreed. But I just couldn’t get that rooster’s eye out of my head. Truth be told, when I got home, I put the chicken I was planning to cook for supper into the freezer, and unthawed a couple of pork chops instead. Poor Lily!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
(Listen to the podcast of Ida's column here .)