The amazing adventures of Buck RoostersonIt’s an odd thing to form a friendship with a bird, especially when it’s a chicken, and in this case a rooster at a horse stable and a half-sized one at that.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Part two of a two-part story
It’s an odd thing to form a friendship with a bird, especially when it’s a chicken, and in this case a rooster at a horse stable and a half-sized one at that.
At least if he’d been a bald eagle or a conniving crow I might have been considered a patriot, a conservationist or an Edgar Allen Poe fan or at least a little more virile and interesting but no, it had to be a rooster that was the size of a hen and then I’d even taken it a step further and declared the mini bird to be the most noted philosopher and theologian since Aristotle, Gandhi, Mark Twain and the Apostle Paul.
And then soon the worst would happen, which left me feeling perpetually melancholy when maybe I shouldn’t have felt anything, since everything that I was feeling was the result of a friendship with a bird anyway.
You see, one night I passed by a leafless tree next to my horse trailer and spotted a puffy ball perched high on a branch about 3 feet above the roof and quickly deduced that it was Bucky with his head tucked under his left wing and his body silhouetted against the partially lit night sky.
Having assumed chickens to be mostly landlocked, except for an occasional short-lived flight that mimicked Howard Hughes going momentarily aloft in the Spruce Goose, I wondered how Bucky had soared to such a height, and more importantly, how he would get back down.
Days later, when he’d perched there again in the late afternoon, I saw him dismount the tree with all of the grace of a skier losing control on a downhill slope, wings flapping, neck stretched, feathers flying and dust rising once he reached the sandy soil where he shook mightily, composed himself and pecked at the ground as though nothing had happened, unaware that someone might have giddily observed his spastic moment.
Then the next night it rained quite heavily and I gave some passing thought to how Bucky might be faring high up in that tree, but only a passing thought and in the morning when I heard him performing his daily requirement of a few muffled “cock-a-doodle-doos” I looked out my front door and saw him dancing up and down between puddles of water, shifting from one leg to the other as though he had to pee, looking at me like he was an irate hotel guest waiting for room service to arrive.
I thought it cute and went about my regular morning ritual, figuring that I’d get out there in due time after the rain had stopped to serve him some of the alfalfa pellets that he normally dined on between the legs of my two horses.
However, when the rained stopped, I didn’t see Bucky the rest of that day or week, it being Thursday and with each passing minute I discovered how much I missed and even depended on the little runt’s friendship and insight to enlighten and enliven my day.
Naturally I began to fear for his health and even walked amongst the other chickens in the stable area trying to see if I could find him, all the while knowing that he considered his contemporaries to be nothing more than lazy, imperceptive, dull fowl that possessed zero wit and were incapable of having an imaginative or inspired thought anyway.
“But are they happy?” I had asked him when we discussed those fowl friends, it being the day before he disappeared and he stared off into space as though he’d never considered the possibility that happiness could take precedence over comprehension, perception and intellectual gamesmanship and it seemed to rock his world and he sat under the shade of a large oak tree the rest of that day looking as though he had gas, indigestion or a serious migraine.
Nor could I ask any creatures at the stable if they’d seen him because how would it look if I, a human, was seen talking to animals, not that they’d answer me anyway. Nor could I admit to anyone that I had regularly debated the meaning of life with a runt rooster and expect to be thought of as anything other than totally insane.
Not spotting him, I moped around for a few days, sad at having lost my best friend while at the same time slapping myself for having bared my soul to a low-flying bird. Then when Tuesday rolled around it was such a beautiful day that the sun’s bright rays lit the darkened areas of my inner being and I was walking briskly to my horse’s stalls when I spotted a rooster, a runt who looked a lot like Bucky, though I couldn’t be sure, eating pellets out of the hand of an old man and I made my way over to them and looked into Bucky’s eyes and saw nothing but barrenness as if the light inside had been turned off.
“Nice day!” the older gentleman exclaimed.
“Sure is,” I confirmed.
“Got myself a new buddy here,” he said looking down at the Bucky look-a-like and smiling.
“I see that.”
“He showed up right after the rain.”
“Is that so?”
“Yep,” the old man said. “Sure would like to know what’s going on in that head of his.”
“I take it he hasn’t told you?”
“Not a word,” he said and laughed.
“Keep listening,” I suggested and walked away.
“Will do!” he declared, unaware that I was being totally serious.
Of course, what I hated most at that moment was the not knowing. Not knowing if it was really Bucky or his clone, whether Bucky was alive or dead, hated me or was intent on torturing me. Or whether he’d been killed by coyotes or died of pneumonia from the bad weather or worse, if he’d simply categorized me as being unworthy of his enlightenment anymore, just like he’d done to the other fowl roaming the stable grounds.
Two more days went by and I was shaking the dust out of a rug by my front door when the Bucky look-a-like sauntered by as he followed the old man on horseback.
“Another nice day,” the old man said.
“Yes, it is.”
“I’m going for a ride.”
“With your favorite chicken I see,” I answered, referring to his follower as a chicken rather than rooster just to see if it would ruffle his feathers a bit.
“Follows me everywhere,” the old man said and doffed his hat.
“He looks happy,” I mentioned.
“I think he is,” the old man confirmed and suddenly the runt rooster turned back toward me and I could swear he winked, perhaps signaling that he was indeed Bucky and that he’d taken my words to heart, the one’s about happiness and joy being more important than all of that other stuff and he’d gone back to being a rooster, back to what he was meant to be and found happiness there and I was pleased...as pleased as a soaring hawk who’d spotted a mouse roaming down below.
Or perhaps he was thinking about Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, the French novelist and performer, who once said, “Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.”
Holten is a freelance writer and cartoonist from Dickinson.