The Wild Chicken’s at Paddy’s Rest (A Short Story)

Where  I’m  from,  comes and  goes a  road.  On  that road  is  a  trip,  is  a  story  and  is  a  lifestyle  which  has  now  passed  like  the  common  chapter.  A  bus travels  to  and  from,  along  the  road,  and  through  a  rest stop  in the  shape  of a circle. At  this  rest  stop  are  chickens. This  is  a  hypothetical story  of  those  chickens. Wild  chickens?  Exactly. These  days,  chickens  are  owned, domesticated  and  profitable  beings.  No  one  knew  where  the  chickens  were from  or  how  they  got  there.  Nevertheless,  it  was  and  still  is  a  rare  sight  to  see.

 

It’s morning. The light of gold is beaming on the macadamia tree’s leaves, lighting up the rows and aisles and creating shadows in between them, in the field. There is a glimpse of perhaps what the day will bring. No gold? No beauteousness in the day. Perhaps, beauty in other things. A bus. She must move on and she has moved on, down the road, and she’s making her tracks alongside the trees, through the valley to another. She makes it to Eungai. The gold hasn’t reached there yet. Many tall trees are standing, surrounded by silver shallows, and their barely made shadows of shapes on the grass. The morning dew still present. She picks up two more of those birds. Forward, she rolls down and over the gully, around the right bend and stops. The road opens up and breathes onto the highway. A sharp left turn is made. Paddy’s Rest is the next place she’ll be. She is pacing herself, and indicates to the left, then turns left. Paddy’s Rest. The loop fastens an extra thirty seconds onto her trip. A slow-motion thirty seconds. She is surveying the three sixty degrees parking lot.  The chickens are there. There like clockwork. The circle is their clock, their home, and their base. One Rooster and One Henpeck together. People stop here according to their own clock. Check in and check out. Leaving behind crumbs, coffee, chips, and cigarettes. It’s a chickens circle of paradise.

Rooster and Hen envisaged the circle when they were back with their families, two months prior. At the time, their parents were telling them they had to move on. “Ey, move onward, together I say!” The Rooster’s father would crow to him. Rooster met Hen at one of the picking festivals, in early May. They enjoyed each other’s company. That’s when Rooster’s father decided it was getting too crowded around their shanty. “Much, much too crowded, would ya move on already Rusta!” Rusta was Rooster nickname. Only his father called him ‘Rusta.’ With his father’s rural advice, Rooster and Hen began their journey to Paddy’s Rest. “It ey bout time Rusta!” Rooster’s father yipped as he told him about their plans. Rather, his grandfather’s plans. Rooster’s grandfather told him about the circle when he was much younger. He recited,

“There’s a place, just as good as this place. Paddy’s Rest. Ed south along de banks and up past de waterhole. Do yar best to make a nest, in the circle you will make it. It’s a good place I tell yar – a real place.”

Three days on and Rooster and his sweetheart, Hen, were packed up in pride. They had tones of red and brown, white and black,  uneven spots and patches. That’s all they needed to leave, was themselves. In all shades, they could go anywhere. They said their goodbyes to their families, who flapped off as the pair walked off into the long grasses, and through the Xanthorrhoea forest. They spent two days walking and stayed overnight in the hollows of trees. They’d fly up as high as they could, to hide in the branches and leaves. Retreating from predators, like foxes.

That’s right, in the wild, chickens have actual predators. Unlike, us humans. It’s interesting when you think of it. A predator? A human is a predator? Technically,  today, yes. But when you compare the definition of predator to a human it doesn’t align. How is this so? “An animal that naturally preys on others.” Here is this word again… ‘Naturally.’ When I see a chicken, I do what I’m doing now, I write a hypothesis of what the chicken is thinking, feeling, or what it has experienced by being a chicken.  I don’t pounce on it with my breathtakingly, sharp fingernails and start plucking out its feathers and digging my, ‘canines’ into its throat, breaking its neck and feet and licking the blood. Naturally, to us, that is a violent experience. We are not natural predators. Humans are not, by definition, ‘natural’ beings. Otherwise, we would do such things, such acts and aspects of ourselves being naturally untamed and wreckless and wild and violent and we would have breathtakingly sharp claws.

Rooster and Hen, flew down from the trees as the gold appeared between the leaves and they walked a day and into the early afternoon. The two arrived at Paddy’s Rest. His grandfather’s directions were wholesome and accurate to the map. *Flap* Rooster flapped his wings at Hen and she was very impressed with Roosters ability to navigate through the foliage, accurately. Rooster was very happy with himself too. They began to encompass the oval. Circling inwards and around and on top of. They wanted to find a place to settle. A new place to build a shanty, perhaps. They walked from early afternoon to evening. The sun began to shed its afternoon gold. Usually, a pink or orange semblance, in contrast to the yellow gold discharged in the morning.

They found it, a hollow tree. Shaved by fire and furnished by the wind. They climbed inside. It had a stairwell, made of its caved in branches and three beds of moss in-between the levels of stairs.  Hen was impressed. Rooster was impressed with Hen’s unimpeachable decorum. By the time the sun had passed down, the two had watched it pass and now they were asleep. The next morning, Hen awoke  at 06:00 to Rooster tickling her feather’s, (in a titillating way.) It’s now 07:15 and the two want to share their breakfast. They left the hut and climbed up the mound to the circle. A table was in the heart of the circle. Rooster swanked to Hen by dancing around in a circle. He watched the bus loop around him. “She’s awfully large,” Rooster said to Hen. Hen agreed.

Hen watched the people as they emerged from their camper vans, and large people in small cars opened their doors and stretched, and they walk to the coffee stand, which brewed fresh coffee and had sandwiches for sale, and they bought one for the trip home, or to work, or to the next rest stop where there most likely would be no chickens. Hen, pecked and wandered, and perched on the playground, not originally made for chickens but now Rooster and Hen were the only ones who played on it. One week later, Hen was filled with eggs and Rooster was expanding the shanty’s levels. Three weeks later a few eggs decided to open up. They jibed upward and outward, and under Hen’s feathers, they stayed. For a while. Then, quick! They came out, shades of amber and red, black and white, some like their father and some like their mother.

Now there are five more chickens at the circle. Paddy’s Rest continues to stay ‘ey real nice e’re place.’ The young chicks, they’ll grow up e’re and then they’ll do what their parents did, or did not. Some may stay, n grow old e’re an others, well they’ll listen to their grandfather when e’ says “there’s a nice place not to far from e’re, just down the road n past the waterhole, through the Xanthorroea forest, et’s a real nice place, I grew up d’ere.”  Back and forth they’ll rock like a seesaw, moving in between the shades of themselves and the shades of circles and light of gold. When the sun comes up they’ll make love to it and each other and when it goes down they’ll sleep. The circle is their clock, their convalescent home, and their centre. It’s their rhythm and manner of life. There, they will make the rounds of the circle and be wild, just at Paddy’s Rest.

 

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