|That's me -- not my best side though.|
Then I saw him, loping across the field -- that black labrador. We'd had a previous altercation which landed me in the hospital for a week. He had not dared accost me since, and I felt we'd established a farm truce. He and I even coordinated for defensive purposes occasionally; I squawked my warning for aerial predators; he responded with an alarm bark. The ladies hustled to the corner by the pine tree, and Ned (for this is the beast's name) scanned the sky for the attacker. In this way we'd saved the ladies lives many times.
Still, I did not trust him. He has a lolling head and gaping mouth. He is sheer, solid muscle, lean and fast. His piercing eye is flawless and no squirrel can step foot upon earth in his field. He is the master from fence to fence! And now, I was pecking grass in his kingdom. Retreating into my hen yard and coop did not occur to me. How can a rooster, having recently leapt into manly freedom, cow and hide from the large black beast, fleet of paw and ferocious of bark? I thrust out my chest, squared my wings, thrust out my spurs, and crowed!! Then he knew I was there!
He pounded across the pasture, beneath the pecan trees. I leapt in the air, let out a squawk, and scampered sideways. A sideways maneuver is a rooster's first ploy. He neared, growling savagely. The dusky sun was setting behind the orchard trees, and I felt my life might end in a moment. His shoulder muscles heaved as he approached while his gaping mouth and white fangs lunged for me. I ran -- oh, how I ran -- for my only escape. I glimpsed a light in the darkness behind me and escaped into the door behind me! I flew into the air hoping to land on something -- anything! -- high on the wall. At the same instant I fluttered up, the beast crashed into the room, which became a cell of thunderous barking and high-pitched squawks. I landed on a high shelf, panting and heaving with panic and relief.
The beast stood beneath me. His leering, hungry face relaxed slowly. His deep black eyes sparkled. Then he seemed to smile. He tilted his head inquisitively to one side as if asking me a question, but I don't speak dog, and I'm quite certain he doesn't understand the complex language of the fowl. I grumbled a little at him and squatted down on my feet. He stepped into his lounge chair. (It was his office, after all.) I half-closed my eyes. Well, to be honest, my noble, bright-red comb is not the stiffest of ornaments, and it droops embarrassingly over my right eye. So I closed my right eye as I always do, and I scrutinized him with my left. This I did for many minutes.
Then we both heard the shouts. The humans arrived. The beast stood quivering at the door and barred my escape.They soon realized my absence, and I waited patiently for them to rescue me from my imprisonment. But although they obtained flashlights and searched all around the barn, the coop, and the pasture, the silly humans never looked in the most obvious place: the room with high shelves. The first thing the loud human did was close the door of my cell, trapping me with my tormentor! What terror! I heard their shouts for me outside. The gentler one seemed woeful and teary, and my heart yearned for her. How could she not find me? At last they abandoned their search and retreated to their coop. The night grew black and still. My eye discerned the beast, now curled into his chair, and finally sleeping. I, however, slept little. The mice that inhabit the room and feast upon his pitiful dog fare each night scampered all around me. What hideous companions for a noble fowl such as myself! But I dared not move from my safe position.
At last morning arrived, and with the sun the humans resumed their search for me. I crowed for them once, and although the sound elicited a grand "hallooo!!" from the loud human, it also aggravated an aggressive challenge from the labrador. So I lay back down to wait. They scoured every inch of the farm, venturing into overgrown corners and beyond their land, over ditches and into other fields. I dared not crow again. The gentler human sadly made her way back to her coop, and then -- at last! The loud human turned the knob of the cell door. My beastly companion had been whining and complaining of being kept there during their search. The door opened; he erupted into the pasture. And finally, the human saw me there! He beckoned his lady! She entered, reached for me, and picked me from the shelf. I admit to a bit of scratching and complaining as she carried me from the place. But what a night I'd had! All because they would not check the one place they should've known I'd be: trapped with the labrador monster. He had me at his mercy, locked in his own room, and I barely escaped alive!
My night's adventure ended well; I returned to my ladies without a feather missing. The gentler human spent the morning cutting away vines and netting around my yard, and the loud human erected yet more of that appalling metallic irritant they jokingly call "chicken wire." He thinks he will keep me from further thrilling escapades by moonlight.
I plan to learn the beast's language so we can communicate. The shelf in his office is vastly superior to my own roost, and if I can convince him of my peaceful intentions, his bachelor lodgings might be a quiet alternative to the constant pecking, nagging, and claustrophobic sleeping conditions I presently experience each night with four wives plaguing me. With time, I may tame the beast and convince him to share his bachelor pad. I am now plotting my next escape. When opportunity knocks, I'll pursue a truce and agree to eradicate his mice if he will share his dwelling and a morsel of his food. I've heard it is superior to layer pellets. Why, I ask you, should a rooster be submitted to the indignity of eating layer pellets?