May 23, 2013
Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Rodney E.J. Chang
Kauai island of the Hawaiian chain got hit by a hurricane a few years
ago. For the tourist industry, the
oldest island of the island archipelago is nicknamed the “Friendly Isle.”
After the disastrous storm, the island could understandably be nicknamed
“Chicken Island.” (Not that island marketing would permit it.)
Thousands of chickens escaped their coops when over a hundred mile per
hour winds struck island-wide. There
was no way to recapture the freed birds, scattered all over the island.
Even if the daunting task was possible, how could folks identity which
livestock belonged to which resident? Now
feral offspring, generations deep, roam freely on the island among the human
population that have learned to live with massive flocks.
They're all over the place, including the roads.
Think massive road kills.
Henry, a country boy of 7, asked his friend Edgar, “Why did the
chickens cross the road?”
“To get to the other side?” (He
had heard the answer to that joke.)
But Henry really did wonder what he asked.
On bicycles, traveling along the side of a rural road close to their
homes, the question just popped into his mind, the type that surfaces in a
curious child’s mind for no particular reason at all. Henry responded to
“Well that’s obvious; what a stupid answer.
I mean, really, why do they cross this road?”
If only he could hear the chickens talk to each other.
To the boys it only sounded like squawks.
On one side of the asphalt road, both sides were lined with thick green
“centipede” grass, the largest rooster crowed to a smaller one.
Translation in English:
“Hey buster, I told you before I don't want to catch you on this side
of the road. Are you too stupid or just
have a short memory?”
Having attracted the bully's attention, the smaller male backed off in a
“Sorry, Sir, I forgot.”
“Hey, I know it's slimmer pickings on the other side.
Too many of our kind have been hanging out on that side, where it’s all
brush, tall grass and no houses. Safer
refuge but now with less bugs and worms.”
“Yes it is; that's why I couldn't resist when I saw a huge earthworm
poking its head out of the ground.”
“But that's my worm you’re stealing.
Do I have to remind you that this is my territory? Or do you think you're
now big enough to take me on?” The
tough guy said this as he lowered his head and clawed back at the ground, making
like he was ready to charge. “If you don’t beat it now, I’ll peck your
ugly eyes out!” Squawk!
Without further hesitation, the other rooster ran to cross the road.
A passing car’s wheels almost pan-caked the fleeing bird.
But the alert driver swerved and braked in time.
But this incident of peck order exerting itself was only part of the
answer to Henry-the- Cyclist’s inquiry.
With that intruder gone, off to the other side and finding refuge in some
bushes, the big rooster turned his attention to a strolling hen and her line of
little yellow chicks. The family was
on his side of the road. And picking
at and snitching his squirming delicacies within the grass.
“Hey lady, yeah you with all them little fellas.
Do you know who I am?”
“Can't say I do.” The hen
had been wandering down the road for a while, with total attention to seeking
out hidden morsels. Now she and her
brood were far from her usual nesting and scavenging area; she was totally
unaware as to exactly were she was.
“Well I own this side of the road and you're trespassing in my worm
“But there's so much more of us further down from where we walked from,
and my little ones are so hungry. Can't
you, kind sir, permit us to scrounge about for just a little while?”
“Hell NO!” the greedy rooster crowed. “With
all them little 'ums, you could be eating me out of house and lot in a matter no
be off too-many-eggs lady, and take that brood with you!”
She didn't budge until he was upon her, with claws out and inflicted a painful peck
on her neck.
“Ouch, that hurt! You
brute! You woman beater!”
With that she ran across the road with her trail of chicks obediently
followed after her.
“And be sure to stay away, all of you!
You should also know I don’t take kindly to some other rooster’s
offspring. If any of your chicks
wanders back to my territory, they’re bloody dead feathers this time!”
The dominant male was such a bastard.
It had carried out the death threat on former chicks that had mistakenly
wandered into his territory.
The road at this juncture had a sharp bend and the
road was slick from the early morning rain.
Kauai couldn't be called the “Garden Isle” if it didn't rain so darn
Just as the chicks were in the middle of the road,
farmer John's old pick up came screeching around the turn. He saw the line of
chicks and slapped the brakes, causing the truck to skid – right into the last
few in line. After the wheels
rotated off the victims, farmer John sped off. He did feel remorse but soothed
his guilty conscience with,
Well I did try to stop.
Anyhow, there's way too much of them multiplying all over the place.
Damn pests, leaving their droppings all over the place.
At least I nailed a couple of them. Yes,
that what it was. Just doing my job to help to keep the wild chicken population
shocked mother hen and the terrified surviving clutch darted off into the some
dry bush and out of sight.
head honcheho saw the road kill
incident and didn't give it a second thought.
Ain't my kids, anyway.
Less beaks to feed, less threats
of stealing my worms and bugs.
asshole!” the cocky chicken heard from behind, on the same side of the road.
It was the loudest crow that the two boys had heard that morning. Much
more resounding and piercing than that of the male that was heckling all the
other liberated poultry.
On that side an old house with a large chicken coop existed.
With all the rain, the nails and hinges had rusted sufficiently that
after some determined pecking, the huge cock that was confined within had
successfully slipped the latch open and squeezed out of the cage's small door.
The surprised bully turned around and saw his nemesis.
He had always felt safe from the naturally large male on steroids in lock
up, thereby enabling him to call that roadside area with good pickings of
squirming treats his own.
It was Roldopho Santiago's champion fighting chicken.
It was a survivor of many bouts. The
champion cock had killed his share of competitors to earn his keeper a tidy sum
of profits. The ruling bully of the
road now backed off , with its body shaking and his two skinny legs trembling.
Its colorful crest of feathers no longer were ruffled outwards as if
looking for a fight. The feral
rooster lowered its head to show no aggression to the new arrival and signal
submissiveness. The new
arrival flew from the coop to stand immediately next to the roadside
“Do you know
who I am, buster?”
the famous one they call The Gladiator.”
jerk, know why they call me that?”
really,” said the cock with an obsequious demeanor.
The large feral male had never attended a chicken fight.
For sure such an event was never seen roadside since such gambling events
are illegal in the state.
“Because I'm a trained killer. I've
come back to roost over ten times. I
survive on superior brawn but also my wit. More
than I think you'll ever have. Are
you listening to me, Mr. Terrorist of the weak?”
“Yes, Mr. Gladiator, Sir.” It
said this as it lowered its head and slowly backed off from the crowned
aggressor. The latter did have a
larger red fleshy crown on top of its head.
It was now the new king of the road.
“Well this time you've gone too far... ‘cause I managed to break out.
I watch you everyday picking on others less your fat-ass size.”
The other rooster remained quiet and subservient.
What could he say in his defense? He
was guilty as charged.
“Know why I got these knives on at the bottom of my feet?”
“Because they make you look cool?”
“No, you idiot. Because my
trainer just finished a session with me, went to piss, and hadn't returned yet
to remove these blades – before I got out to come here, and teach you a
“I'm sorry...” as all that the feral rooster could say before the
“I have another nickname besides The Gladiator.
Wanna know what it is?”
“Do tell me, Oh mighty Gladiator.”
“The crowds around the arena also call me The Slasher.”
“Never mind, you're chicken salad now, mister tough guy!”
Without another word - make that squawk, the trained killer flew in the
air, flinging outwards from around its neck the display of its fighting colors
in the form of feathers. With its
wings flapping wildly, the razor-sharp long blades that were attached to its
claws sliced open the ill-matched feral's throat with a well-aimed swipe.
Blood spurted profusely, making the outflow last but a minute.
Thereafter, the mortally wounded cock lay on the roadside; its eyes wide
and fixated as it stared without focus up at the sky.
The rooster’s red crown matched its head, now completely covered it
blood. After one last jerk, it was a
corpse with its mouth still agape.
With the confrontation over before it started, The Gladiator started to
scratch about on the ground, uncovering and pulling up morsels of fresh
earthworms, poking their heads out of the mud created by the earlier morning
rainfall. Soon its owner
returned and managed to get the his prize fighter back into its coop.