A nice bit of creative writing for you. I think I'd prefer to remain mysterious as to its inspirational origins
. I call it Poultricide
. I didn't think it quite deserved a node of its own.
I have rarely been so hungry as to have had to prepare food – or, more specifically, meat – right from the stage at which the meal is actually moving of its own accord. Two months ago, however, I found myself on an exchange trip to somewhere in France having to do just that. I was living with a family who owned a farm about nine miles from the nearest town. Every day my exchange partner and I would have to go out and corner a pig, a sheep or a chicken or two for the evening meal. Then we would go and bring it (or them) back to Mme. Lavacil – the mother – who was on axe-duty most days.
There was a particularly gruesome moment on my second day there when we were told were having chicken for supper – we had just delivered them to Mme Lavacil, who had called us in to help her. We followed her into the dusty, wooden outbuilding which I later called “the slaughterhouse”. The dirt floor was stained red and there was a large wooden table in the middle of it, also spattered with dried blood. The large woman was standing next to the table, holding the axe in one hand and the chicken in the other. It looked as though she was standing in front of an altar, about to make a sacrifice to the gods. Then, while I held the other chicken, she put the one she was holding onto the stone and held it there while she raised the axe ominously. There was a terrible moment of suspense, before the blade fell, going straight through the middle of the neck and hitting the table with a dull thunk. The chicken’s protests were suddenly cut off, along with its head. But then, partly due to the sudden spurt of blood that shot out of the chicken’s neck and partly because there was no longer a head to stop her hand sliding off the neck, and possibly because the chicken was somehow still struggling, Mme. Lavacil lost her grip and in an instant the chicken ran, flapping its wings, off the table and rolled a few feet along the floor before coming to a halt. It was very surreal, and the oddest thing was that the chicken did all this completely silently, having left its head some five feet away. However there was plenty of squawking supplied by the other chicken which, in my surprise, I had dropped. It had promptly shot out of the open door. Mme. Lavacil, the dragon that she was, told me off for dropping the chicken as though any fool should have been able to keep hold of a hyperactive mass of flapping feathers while its counterpart was being beheaded.
Outside, looking for the escaped chicken in desperation – the dragon had promised to breathe fire if I did not find it – I wandered around the yard, searching in vain. Maybe it got through the fence into the cows’ field, I thought. A quick look at ground level told me that there were many cow pats but no chickens. The pigs’ field had nothing in it either, and the chickens’ area was impossible to get into for a chicken – having been designed to be equally impossible to get out of. Dejectedly, I went back to the house. It was nearly dark. I was wondering what evils would be waiting for me when I returned chickenless. Just on the point of entering the house, I stopped and stared at what I saw on the roof. Standing there, just above the gutter, was the very chicken which had evaded decapitation – I recognised it by its strange white and black feathers on its breast. Look, you annoying bird, I said under my breath, just come down here, will you? Wondering how it got up there not being able to fly, I began to climb up the rickety gutter to try and get to it. Then, just as I was about to make a grab for it, it suddenly leapt into the air and flew away into the clear dusk sky. Watching it as it vanished from view, I remember thinking how graceful it somehow looked. But I can also remember, although nobody believed me when I told them afterwards, that just before taking off and as if in answer to my utterance, the chicken shook its head.