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Justin Quinn Olmstead

Ralph and the Winter Chicken

This is the story of a perfectly ordinary man.  The only thing special about this man is that he is the subject of this story, and some claim that this still leaves him far short of special.
    This is also the story of a perfectly ordinary chicken.  The only thing special about the chicken is that it is in this story with the perfectly ordinary man.  Some say that the simple fact that the chicken is even in the story makes it special, while others argue that its association with the perfectly ordinary man has held the chicken back from ever being anything but perfectly ordinary.
    The story begins not with the perfectly ordinary man nor with the chicken but with a dog.  The dog, Sadie, is also perfectly ordinary, as far as dogs go.  Sadie woke up, as he usually did, with an intense desire to use the bathroom, but as dogs don’t tend to use an actual bathroom he was stuck waiting for his master to wake up and allow him to go outside and piddle amongst nature as he was meant to do.  This would seem a task easier said than done because Sadie could not open the door, not that he should be expected to: he is a dog after all.  So Sadie was stuck waiting for his master to wake up and let him out.  Sadie’s master, in this case, is not the perfectly ordinary man, but his daughter, Sara. Sara is an extremely bright, yet also perfectly ordinary young lady who awoke this particular morning with no knowledge of the havoc she was about to unleash upon her perfectly ordinary father’s life within a very short time.
    From the moment Sadie began pestering his master to get out of her warm and cozy bed and let him outside, a
chain of events was beginning to unfold like nothing Sadie, or Sara, or the perfectly ordinary man, or the perfectly ordinary chicken for that matter, had seen before, or would ever see again.  
    Sara, for all her brightness, was not a morning person, and as a non-morning person, she tended to move quite slowly in the wee hours of the day.  This morning was no different.  Unlike Sadie, Sara, being human, had an extreme dislike of cold feet.  From the moment she swung her legs out of her warm and cozy bed she began the sluggish, blind attempt to find her slippers.  Her right foot quickly found itself snug inside its slipper while the left foot tap danced tiny circles around the floor until it found its slipper and then it had some problems settling down and getting comfortable.  Ever so slowly Sara raised herself from her bed and began her monotonous journey from her bedroom, through the living room, turning left to head into the kitchen, before finally reaching the back room and the door that Sadie was so anxiously waiting for her to open.  By this time quite a bit of time had passed since Sadie first woke and realized that he needed to convene with nature, and he felt that he had shown more than ample patience with Sara’s glacial morning attempts at movement.  He had held his tongue and not barked at her once. He had simply danced around her feet a lot.  This had more to do with his attempt to avoid peeing on her feet than it did with his attempt to speed her up.
    To make matters worse, when Sara finally arrived at the door she paused to look outside before opening it.  What Sara noticed upon looking outside was that during the night it had started to sleet and spit freezing rain.  The wind was blowing and she could suddenly hear the sleet pelting the windows with a ferocity that made her shudder and hesitate before finally gazing upon the face of her loving dog and realizing that his face held more of a grimace than a smile, and that he really needed to go outside before he did something they would both regret.  So Sara did what any good dog-owning homeowner would do: she opened the door.
    What Sara saw and what she had expected to see turned out, to her astonishment, to be two entirely different things.  Sara thought she’d see the sleet being whipped about the carport, and the cold, frozen landscape that generally accompanies wind-whipped sleet and freezing rain.  Instead what she saw was a perfectly ordinary chicken.
    Sadie also saw the chicken, and to his surprise, forgot all about having to potty.  Having never actually seen a chicken before, Sadie felt an intense urge to protect his turf, or in this case, carpet.  Although the chicken was not actually on his carpet, he did what any dog would do and began to bark and chase the intruder as far away from his carpet as possible.  The chicken, having never been in this situation did not, to Sadie’s mind, cooperate to the extent Sadie thought was appropriate.  In fact the chicken did not cooperate in any sense of the word.  She simply ran around Sadie and right through the open door that Sara had already mentally shut, but due to her morning slowness and surprise at seeing a chicken in her carport, had yet to convince her arm to do.
    Sadie, of course, was outraged at what he saw as open defiance on the part of the chicken, and an outright attempt at a hostile takeover of his turf, er, carpet.  Having gotten over his momentary shock due to this irritant of a chicken clearly breaking protocol and entering the house as well as the sheer embarrassment of a chicken out-manoeuvering him, Sadie charged into the house barking madly.  No longer was this a mere attempt at getting this chicken away from his turf, it was now about catching it and doing as much harm to it as possible, and regaining his honor.
    For her part, the chicken saw immediately that entering the open door had been an error in judgment.  It had seemed like a good idea when she had sidestepped the dog and run into the warm building.  She had failed to consider the possibility of the dog following her, or of being trapped within a maze of walls.
    Sara had, eventually, finally, shut the door.  The magnitude of her morning slowness finally hit her as she turned and felt the smoosh of fresh chicken poop left as the chicken ran through the open door.  For some unexplained reason, which can be attributed to the chemical composition of poop in general, literally stepping in it tends to cause humans to move into high speed.  This process is actually accelerated when, as in Sara’s case, they step in it with a bare foot.  In an odd twist of fate, the left foot that had had so much trouble finding its cozy slipper just a few moments earlier had had its slipper ripped from around it by the closing of the door.  Secretly, the foot had always felt that it got the raw end of the deal, but it was stuck with the leg it had been given and had resigned itself to the fact.  
    Sara now joined Sadie in the chase.  For the better part of thirty minutes Sara and Sadie chased the chicken around the sunroom and into the kitchen and living room, over the couch and across the table, then around the couch and under the table.  The entire time that this chase was occurring, the chicken kept looking for a way out of the house.  She stopped at every window hoping it would be her gate to freedom.  To her astonishment she was met by what seemed to be another, almost identical chicken blocking her way.  Not only was this other chicken seemingly in every exit, it was able to anticipate her every move, almost as if it were being paid to keep her in the house.
    Beginning to tire, and not ever thinking about simply opening the door and shooing the chicken out, Sara did what every young lady does when she is no longer able to work out the problem.  She called her dad.
    Sara’s dad is the aforementioned perfectly ordinary man and his name is Ralph.  Ralph lived across town but, as any father would, answered his daughter’s cry for help.  He did not fully understand the situation.  All he could make out through the barking and clucking was that his daughter needed him and needed him now.  Ralph braved the icy roads, and twenty minutes later arrived at Sara’s carport door.
    Besides being perfectly ordinary, Ralph was a gentleman, and as a gentleman he began to knock on Sara’s door.  The knock ended up being only about two and a half raps.  Ralph had looked into the back room as he started to knock and was stunned by what he saw.  The first thing to catch Ralph’s eye as he gazed through the window into this bizarre world was a chicken sprinting into the sunroom clucking wildly.  Very quickly, Sadie the dog joined the chicken in the sunroom, only Sadie wasn’t clucking, he was barking, as dogs tend to do.  Following Sadie was Sara, who looked surprisingly alive for a Saturday morning.  Ralph began to grin and waved to Sara who, noticing him, yelled something that Ralph thought sounded much like “Get in here!” only sprinkled with four letter words he thought no daughter should use when addressing her father.  
    Ralph slowly opened the door and stepped in.  By this time, Sadie had chased the chicken back into the rest of the house and was on his way to chasing the chicken back to the sunroom.
    Ralph watched in amazement as Sadie and the chicken ran through the house a few more times, while Sara screamed at Sadie to stop his barking or face some sort of foul punishment.  She had thought about yelling at the chicken to stop clucking and pooping all over her house but she had no real idea how the chicken would react assuming that it could understand her.  She then turned to Ralph with an incredulous look and asked, in a very sarcastic tone, if he planned on actually doing something or if he was simply there for the show.
    Ralph calmly watched the excitement for a few more seconds and then asked Sara if she had considered actually catching the chicken.  Sara, for her part, glared at her father, his wit not quite hitting the spot this bleak morning.  Ralph grinned and then followed Sadie and the chicken back through the kitchen and into the living room where he promptly cornered and caught the chicken between the couch and end table.
    Sadie was not happy about this development.  He felt that this was his carpet; he was the one who had been humiliated by this obviously insane chicken, and therefore it fell upon him to catch this clucking, pooping beast.  In fact, Sadie was so upset, that he refused to stop barking and found, to his amazement, that he was now being yelled at for continuing to voice his displeasure.  
    An important fact that has been overlooked up to this point is that Sara’s house is in the middle of town – on the main street – a fact discussed in some length by Ralph and Sara.  The discussion took so long due, in part, to Sadie’s barking and the chicken, who was still clucking madly and flapping its wings, disrupting the flow of the conversation, if two people shouting at each other over the barking of a dog and the clucking of a chicken can be called a conversation.  Eventually, Ralph ascertained that there was a Mexican who lived a few blocks away who Sara thought kept some chickens in his backyard.  Ralph decided to take the chicken to the Mexican’s house and find out if he was missing, well, one of his chickens.
    Ralph stepped back out into the cold, wind-whipped sleet, walked past his car to the end of Sara’s driveway, turned right, and headed into the north wind. Ralph turned his collar up in an attempt to protect himself against the ferocious north wind
    By a simple twist of fate, a crew from the local television station happened to be driving down main street at the same time that Ralph was beginning his journey north, to the Mexican’s house.  Being such a horrible day, with very few people out, Ralph, with chicken in hand, caught the eye of the cameraman.  The oddity of this sight made the television crew decide that they simply had to take the time to pull over and ask this man what the hell he was doing.
    It wasn’t until Ralph heard the commotion of the crew getting its gear out of the van that he actually raised his head and peered into the sleet and wind.  He squinted in an attempt to protect his eyes from the sleet that was assaulting him to see two men standing in front of him, one of which was holding a video camera.  Ralph blinked rapidly as he listened to the man with the camera ask him what he was doing walking down main street on this frozen, wind-whipped day, with what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary chicken.
The conversation between the three of them was short, stuttered, and for Ralph’s part almost incomprehensible due to the freezing temperature, wind, sleet, and Ralph’s now partially frozen lips, but the cameraman was intrigued enough by Ralph’s story to state flatly that he had never heard of such a thing and was determined to see what happened next.  Ralph agreed to allow them to film the rest of this odd story, so the television crew followed Ralph and the chicken to the Mexican’s house.  
    Upon arriving at the Mexican’s house, Ralph and the news crew were surprised to find no evidence of chickens or life in general.  The three men briefly discussed what their next move should be and after some debate arrived upon the plan of taking the chicken to the police station as a lost pet.  So they turned their backs on the Mexican’s house and the nasty north wind and headed for the police station.  
    The officer on duty chuckled as Ralph entered the door of the police station carrying the chicken.  The smile quickly faded and the chuckle turned into an uneasy cough when he saw the television news crew enter the building.  Ralph explained the day’s events to the officer who uncomfortably but politely explained that he could not possibly, under any circumstances, take charge of the chicken, and suggested that Ralph find some other way to get rid of the bird.  Regardless of how hard Ralph argued, the officer simply refused to take charge of the bird, finally asking Ralph and the news crew to leave.
    As the three men sat in the news van trying to figure out what their next move should be, the cameraman randomly commented that he was beginning to get hungry.   At that point all three men turned and looked at the chicken.  The chicken, for its part, had been pretty calm up to this point, due mainly to the grip Ralph had been keeping on it and the warmth that it was gaining from under his arm.  But the sudden silence and the stares of the three men had suddenly unnerved it, and it let out a series of soft, worried sounding clucks.  
    An hour and a half later Ralph and Sara sat around the kitchen table discussing, amongst other things, the weather and the day’s events.  Sadie, for his part, was wandering around the kitchen sniffing a wonderful new smell that was now in the air.  Suddenly noting the familiar tingle in his bladder, Sadie made a mad dash for the door in the hopes someone would let him out.  As he reached the door he had a flashback to seeing the chicken the last time the door had been opened for him and, surprised by the vision of an insane chicken, lost complete control of his bladder.  Luckily, no one would notice for several hours.  They were too intent on enjoying the above average taste of the perfectly ordinary chicken.








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