I don’t know where ya’ll live, but my area is in lockdown because of Covid.
Fortunately we are blessed to have plenty to keep us busy… a runaway cow, a flesh-eating rooster, a pond full of frozen goldfish, a squeaky violin…. and an overflowing toilet. All that normal stuff that every kid experiences, you know?
I must not be a normal kid then.
Jake, the big, plump rooster, narrows his eyes at me. I sidle sideways, keeping the bucket full of “Moo-moo juice” from the afternoon milking between the evil chicken and my ankles. Jake throws his red-brown feathered head back and crows loudly. He scuffs at the concrete barn floor with his chicken-claws and looks sideways at me. I do a quick step over a hay-bale just as he flies at me, wings flapping and beak pecking at my legs. You would think I’d be tougher, but I scream anyway, throw my arm out to try and keep my balance.
“Kick him!” my brother calls. “Swing the bucket at him!” The thought of accidentally hurting him twists my stomach, and I try to toe the attacking rooster aside as I skitter backwards, but he keeps coming at me, his claws catching on my jeans. Milk splashes out of the pail, and I yell again. “Get away, you dumb chicken!”
He finally quits pecking me once I’m a yard clear of the barn, his territory. We eye each other. I scowl at the feathery beast. Jake looks smug, and I can’t help feeling I’ve lost some kind of standoff. He struts away, crowing triumphantly every few steps. It’s like he’s mocking me. I slink back to the house with what little milk that is left in the bucket.
The next day I am ready. “Jake won the battle, but not the war.” I tell my brother darkly on the way to the barn to do chores. He just laughs at me. “I don’t know why that chicken bothers you so much,” he says. “Just ignore him and he’ll leave you alone.”
“You can’t ignore something that’s putting pockmarks up and down your legs!” I take a deep breath, duck around to the back of the barn and arm myself. Ready, armed, and fearless. Right?
Jake’s beady eyes lock in on me the moment my boots rustle the straw. He ruffles up and puffs out his chest proudly. I take another step towards him. He closes the distance between us, sprinting and flapping. I swallow the irrational panic, tell myself “It’s just a chicken,” aim… Fire!
Jake is knocked backwards by a splash of icy cold water, squawking and sputtering, the water rolling off his feathers. He dodges around buckets, goats and bales, making a bee-line for the barnyard, his neck jerking, his red comb slick. He looks rather soggy and pitiful, and glares at me from the safety of a fence post. “Sorry buddy.” I say, my head high, a victorious smile on my face. He leaves me alone after that. A little cold water never hurt anyone, but boy, did it teach him a lesson!