Gary looked up from his phone when the woman shouted at him from down the block. It sounded like she said “Come help,” so he stopped texting and trotted up towards her. What was she holding? A twitchy little dog? Had it been hurt? He shoved his phone into his pocket past the chain, and almost tripped on a crack in the sidewalk when he saw what the white animal was.
It was a chicken. A rooster, in fact, if his city-born eyes did not deceive him. Gary was slightly out of breath, and a little confused, so he came up to the woman and stopped, panting with his hands on his knees for a while.
She said nothing. Gary said nothing. She held the chicken out at arms length, as if trying to hand it to him. The street was quiet except for the indignant clucking of the rooster. He stood up, exhaled the last of the pain out of his ribs, and thought about how he had been meaning to get more exercise lately. “Uhh, hi,” he said, still catching his breath. “I thought you said you needed help?”
The woman squinted at him. “I’m not sure you’re going to be much help. You look half dead from running half a block!”
Gary felt hurt, and almost turned to walk away. But there was just something too embarrassing about walking away from the chicken, held out towards him, defiant, clucking at his predicament. So Gary shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look, lady, what do you need help with?”
Her voice dripping sarcasm, she replied, “Oh, now I’m a lady? Well ain’t that just swell, sir. Looks like we got a real gentleman here, don’t we?” she asked the rooster, waving it in Gary’s face.
“I don’t see what the problem is, ma’am. If you don’t need anything, I’ll just… I’ll just waddle on home.” He sighed, and looked away, unable to stare at the chicken or her crazy eyes any longer.
“Well, mister. I’m just trying to figure out why this here chicken crossed the road.” With that, she burst out laughing. Somehow, the rooster seemed to understand the signal, and began to crow.
Gary wanted to swear or yell something clever at her, but before he could respond he found his arm reaching out of its own volition to smack the thing out of her hands. It fell to the ground with a disgruntled cluck, “ke-BAWK!” and the woman gasped with surprise.
“I’m gonna go buy a god damned chicken sandwich,” he said, as he stalked off down the street, not looking back.