May 23, 2013



Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?


by Rodney E.J. Chang  

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     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.

 夏威夷群岛中的考爱岛几年前遭到了飓风的袭击。在旅游业中,群岛中最古老的岛屿被昵称为友善之岛。灾难性的风暴过后,该岛被戏称为鸡岛。(关于该岛的营销可不允许这么称呼它。 )当每小时超过一百英里的飓风袭击全岛,数千只鸡从鸡舍中逃脱。没有办法捉回这些遍布整个岛屿的自由禽类了。即使这项艰巨的任务可能成功,父老乡亲们又如何知道哪只鸡是属于谁家的?如今,这些野生的后代,世代相传,已经学会每天如何在已经学会如何与它们和睦相处的人群中自由的穿梭。它们无处不在,包括公路上。因此经常出现大规模死亡。


     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 Edgar’s answer,


      “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 defensive hop. 


     “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 farm.”


     “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 time.  So 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 much.


      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 under control.


      The shocked mother hen and the terrified surviving clutch darted off into the some dry bush and out of sight.


      The 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.


      “Hey 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 troublemaker.


“Do you know who I am, buster?”


“Yes, you're the famous one they call The Gladiator.” 


“Do you, jerk, know why they call me that?”


“Er...not 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 permanent lesson.”


      “I'm sorry...” as all that the feral rooster could say before the other asked,


     “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.”


     “The what?”


     “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.