This little writing site of mine has always been about freely sharing materials for everyone’s enjoyment and (hopeful) benefits, and will continue to do so.
With so many of us confined-to-quarters with the Coronavirus Shut-In situation for the foreseeable future, I will be posting and sharing a few more pieces from time to time for folks to enjoy reading while helping the time pass.
The following is a short story I just finished for the enjoyment of residents here at the senior living facility where I am the resident manager. The story was inspired by old folk tales and a joke told by the comedian Buddy Hackett years ago.
Again, hopefully bringing a smile and helping the time pass for everyone.
THE THREE-LEGGED CHICKEN
Years ago, when I was very young, six or seven at the time, my family all got into the car one early summer Saturday morning to take a “drive to the country.” That’s how my father would always put it – taking a “drive to the country.”
“The country”, as he referred to it, was the old homestead and farm where my mother had been raised, near McKittrick, Missouri just outside of Hermann, off Highway 19. If you crossed over the Missouri River and landed in Hermann, you probably blinked and missed McKittrick and went too far. Nowadays, McKittrick is home to the world-famous “Joey’s Bird House B&B” on Main Street. But you probably knew that already, being so renowned as it is, so I shouldn’t have wasted your time telling you again.
My father never said the words “drive to the country” in a happy, “let’s hurry up and get there” tone. That’s how I felt, but he did not share my youthful exuberance. A “drive to the country” always ended up being work for him, as my two aged uncles who lived on the farm at the time, Coley and Ellis, two old bachelor brothers who had never been married, always had a list of chores that needed to be done. “We could surely use your help with (insert the chore for the day here) before y’all head back to town, Rudy.”
Rudy was my father’s name, of course, being short for Rudolph, spelled the old German way with a “P” as he would always point out, just like the legendary reindeer. But no relation, my father being of Alsatian heritage as he was and the famous reindeer being from somewhere in the Yukon territory, having hung out with Yukon Cornelius in the day, as I recall.
My father, a city boy with no love for the country or outdoors, would dutifully help out with whatever chores they requested. He came to realize over time that it was best if he just agreed, did the tasks, and remained on speaking terms with my mother. She would visit with family and he would work. Did I mention that he never really liked going to “the country?” His least favorite chore was cleaning out the chicken coop, and after having helped him on one occasion when I was older, I can’t say I disagreed with him. After that, I realized why our family seemed to invariably have fried chicken at Sunday dinners. It wasn’t about cuisine; it was about revenge, pure and simple.
And that brings me to the point of all this. On that one Saturday morning, as we were going on along Highway 19 on the way to my uncles’ farm, a chicken suddenly appeared running alongside the car down the center stripe of the road. Which it actually was at that time, a narrow two-lane, winding blacktop road, as I recall. The term “Highway” can be a misnomer in our state when driving thru the backcountry and Ozarks areas. “Highway” looked good on the fold-out gas station maps and sounded alluring and enticing to tourists thinking about venturing into the state, but in reality, most of the side and back roads at the time were straight-as-a-snake curvy and just plain old “shake your false teeth loose” rough. Another of dad’s expressions.
Anyway, back to that chicken, the one we left running alongside the car as you may recall from a minute ago. My father was driving along at a brisk forty mile an hour clip, a good speed for a winding country road in the early ‘50s. He looked out his side window and exclaimed to us all – “Look at that. A chicken is running alongside the car!” I will never forget his exact words. He said – “Look at that. A chicken is running alongside the car!”
Perhaps feeling challenged by the fleet fowl, my father sped up to 45 mph. So did the chicken, keeping pace right alongside.
From my backseat observation window, I noticed that the chicken was running alongside in an atypical manner, although I didn’t know the word ‘atypical’ or what it meant at the time, of course. Just using it here for you now to indicate that something didn’t appear normal in the way the chicken was moving, in a rather unconventional manner, you see. After a minute or so, thru further study and examination, I then determined that the chicken had three legs. Really, count ‘em – One, Two, Three Legs!
My father sped up to fifty. So did the chicken.
We accelerated up to 60. My mother was about to come unglued, as frequently doing 60 on a hilly and winding country road could result in a quicker-than-planned trip to the cemetery back in the day before life-saving seat belts were invented.
My father floored it and zoomed up to 65, and at this point, apparently having reached its own destination, the chicken sped up even more, dashed ahead of us and cut right in front of our car to sprint up a gravel side road leading to a nearby farmhouse.
My father slammed on the brakes, having passed the gravel road at such speed, immediately threw the car into reverse, and then sped up the road in pursuit of the chicken, gravel and road dust flying everywhere.
Standing in the nearby barnyard was the farmer, dressed in dusty blue overalls and wearing a straw hat that looked like it may have been original Civil War issue. My father leapt out of the car and headed towards the farmer, with my mother and me hurrying behind to catch up.
“Did you see that chicken that just ran past?” my father blurted out, half out of breath.
“Yep,” replied the farmer, calmly.
“That chicken had three legs!” my father exclaimed. He was nearly frantic about what had just transpired on the road, as even being an over-the-road trucker most of his life he had never been in a chicken race of that sort before.
“Yep,” responded the farmer. “Three legs.”
My father was incredulous at the farmer’s indifference. “Well, don’t you find that unusual?” my father pursued.
“Nope,” deadpanned the farmer again. “We breed and raise ‘em here. Lots of ‘em.”
“You raise three-legged chickens?!?” my father came back. “How?!?”
“That’s simple,” the Farmer explained. “We crossed a regular ol’ two-legged chicken with a one-legged Road Runner to get three longer legs and more meat for folks.”
My father, totally bewildered, pressed on. “But why on Earth would anyone want a three-legged chicken?!?”
“Welp,” the farmer began again, a confused look on his face as to why he would have to explain something so obvious, even to a city dweller, “do you like drumsticks?”
“Yes,” replied my father.
“How about your wife?”
“She likes them, too,” my father answered.
“And the little boy there?” the farmer asked, waving a crooked bony finger and then pointing directly at me. “Does he like drumsticks?”
“He loves them,” my Father replied. “They are his favorite part.”
And they were. My father always knew me well when it came to food. Drumsticks were my favorite. Dad was spot on with that one.
“Well then,” the farmer explained, “there you have it. Three people in your family, three drumsticks. No need to cook up an extra chicken and then have that extra leg and a lot of other chicken parts left over. What sense would that make? None at all, I say.”
“That may be fine and good,” my father agreed. “But what do they taste like?”
“Don’t rightly know,” the farmer replied sheepishly, hat in hand.
“Crossing ‘em with Road Runners as we did, we ain’t never caught one yet to find out!”
© Story James R. Milson, 2020
You can find more Free Reads like this thru the Short Works & Free Reads tab at the top of the page. And that is a true fact, sure enough. If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it with family and friends, along with other site resources available.
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If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “How The Teddy Bear Got Its Name”
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