Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. It contains no exaggeration or embellishment.
The magic rooster suddenly appeared on the last day of winter, a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning. An exquisite and awe-inspiring creature, his presence was a curiosity begging to be photographed and shared with Facebook friends. The entire day, this beautiful bird strutted in front of the hens’ coop, entertaining them with impressive dance steps, flamboyant neck puffery, and surprisingly masculine clucking sounds. Lavern, Shirley and Lucy were enthralled and quite flustered, so egg production suffered a bit, but the real problem didn’t occur to us until the time approached for the ladies’ evening stroll. My wife Heidi would not have her little virgins despoiled by this vagrant gallus; the door would have to remain locked. Unlike our lap-sitting pet hens, this little banty was standoffish, never allowing us within ten feet of him. Yet despite his skittishness, he resisted all efforts to chase him away. And so on this warm eve of spring, I lost five points on my wife’s manliness scale, as my first attempt at trapping a bird ended in disgrace. At sunset, the intriguing fowl disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived, leaving us to ponder the odds of a repeat appearance.
Day one tactical recap:
- General chasing and amateurish cornering attempts. Unsuccessful due to age and lack of quickness.
- Baiting a large dog carrier with chicken feed, then rushing the door upon rooster entry. Unsuccessful due to the rooster turning and charging out of the carrier back at me.
On Thursday, our yard guest loudly announced his return at what can only described as an unholy hour, serving to remind us why it is illegal to keep the male of this species within the city limits. As the sun rose on the first day of spring, I observed that the mysterious visitor was still colorful and majestic, but somehow less photogenic and slightly more ominous. The girls were growing weary of him, having been cooped up now for more than forty-eight hours straight. They just wanted to go outside and roll around in the dirt and eat from the compost pile, but the vagrant rooster constantly circled the coupe, leering lewdly and clucking what were no doubt rude comments. The afternoon included two more capture attempts and ten more manliness points lost. As I chased the rogue rooster around the house, he trotted into the carport, then behind my wife’s car, and then he was gone. Vanished into thin air. My nemesis had taken it to the next level, and I knew what had to be done. I looked up a number and dialed the phone. That night, in the shadows of a waning gibbous moon, a man handed me a weapon. Not a gun, but a true hunter’s weapon: a compound bow and two arrows.
Day two tactical recap:
- Repeat of dog carrier trap, modified with long rope to pull door shut from a distance. Unsuccessful due to increasing wariness of chicken towards dog carriers.
- Throwing a blanket over the rooster. Unsuccessful due to size 13 feet tripping over blanket.
Gray skies usher in the third morning. The cock is crowing again and it’s no longer cute. Now he taunts me at every turn, mockingly pooping in my yard as I watch helplessly. In the daylight it becomes apparent that the man had brought me an archery set belonging to his ten year old daughter. It’s a junior compound bow with two target practice arrows. Second thoughts crept in about shooting the chicken and I decided to redouble my efforts at trapping. I determined to make two more attempts that day, drawing on suggestions from Facebook friends and YouTube videos. Fortunately Heidi was not at home to witness the humiliation that followed.
And so it was that at approximately 11:30am on Friday, March 21, 2014, I decided to take up arms against a magic chicken. Several practice shots at an empty Morton’s salt container convinced me that the bow had sufficient power to penetrate a standard chicken. I drew back the bow and waited patiently for the petulant poultry to move into position. Exhaling as I released the string, I saw the arrow fly straight and true, finding its target like a bull’s-eye! But this was no standard chicken. The missile bounced off of him as though his wings were fashioned from Kevlar. In the words of the great Dave Barry, I’m not making this up. The animal squawked curses upon me and ran, wings flapping at full speed across the lawn until he reached Spring Valley Road. He stopped abruptly, LOOKED BOTH WAYS, waited on a car to pass, and then… the magic chicken crossed the road. He then trotted west across the vacant lot until he was out of sight and did not return for the rest of the day.
Day three tactical recap:
- Upside-down-tub-propped up-with-a-stick-with-a-rope-attached-and bait-underneath. Unsuccessful, due to the chicken looking at the bait, then at me, then clucking something that sounded like “how stupid do you think I am?”
- Segregating the girls into the henhouse and allowing the marauder to enter the pen, thereby trapping him. Unsuccessful. A modicum of human dignity prevents me from elaborating, but I will say that when it was over there was chicken poop on my shirt.
- Bow and arrow. Unsuccessful due to improper equipment and armored magic bird wings.
The weekend arrived on day four, and with it came the villainous rooster. We finished our breakfast, and with a calm reserve I again dialed the phone. Keeping in mind that shooting firearms within the city limits is illegal, I’ll just say that hypothetically, if an unnamed man owned a hand gun with a suppressor on it, and if he were to come to my house and fire it in my yard, I would never admit it on Facebook. But suppose, for the sake of discussion, this trained marksman were to hypothetically shoot this chicken in the neck from ten feet away. Being a magic chicken, he would not die. Feathers would fly, and so would he. In fact he would flap his wings and fly like an overweight raven approximately 150 yards through and around the trees in my back yard, over Spring Valley Road, finally spreading his wings and soaring like an eagle to the west across the vacant lot. He would then casually hop over a brick fence and disappear. Hypothetically, of course.
Day four tactical recap:
- Hypothetical silenced pistol. Unsuccessful. Maybe.
EPILOGUE: DAY FIVE.
It is Sunday evening and the magic rooster has not appeared for some thirty-six hours. A peaceful calm has settled over the yard. The hens are out taking their stroll, scratching up pebbles from the dirt and eating them. Lucy lifts her head and looks to the west. Is that a twinkle of sadness I see behind those black eyes?
Nah, there’s nothing in there.