I once rented a house in St Francis for a few months. Not on the canals, obviously. I didn’t want to be mistaken for one of those people. You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you are one yourself, and you’ve never really thought about it. Well, think about it now, buddy.
I was opposite the police station, which didn’t make me feel any safer, but if I was attacked by someone from the St Francis Paddling Club ripped on cocaine and anabolic steroids so that he or she can keep jogging, canoeing, golfing, surfing and selling property without ever having to sleep, I’d at least be able to drag myself across the road and bribe a cop to help me.
The weird thing was, a rooster woke me one morning. Not, unfortunately, by bringing in a Bloody Mary and gently pecking my nethers until I opened my beer-encrusted eyes. It woke me by doing its cockadoodle routine somewhere nearby. The only chickens I’d seen so far were in the Spar, and they didn’t say much.
The woman next to me sat bolt upright in bed. “Did you hear that?” she whispered. “Yes,” I whispered back. “You know what this means, don’t you?” she whispered. Her eyes were big and full of fear.
I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it right away. If there was a chicken in the area, you could bet there’d be a darkie not far behind it. This village was jammed with God-fearing white folk, almost none of whom were gun-toting fundamentalists on a mission to keep the neighbourhood from falling into the clutches of Islam. Stopping the darkies from moving in, however, was another matter altogether.
Around here, nobody kept a chicken for a pet. Maybe in the ghetto, but that was a three-minute drive and a million light years away. Here, in Caucasian Central, chickens were for braaing, not for the reading of entrails or the making of friends. My parents bought one for me and my sister when we were kids. It would wait for us to come home from school, then rocket out of the azaleas and try to gouge our eyes out with its razor-sharp spurs. I think it was a Filipino fighting cock. Some pet. I can’t remember what happened to it, but I like to think it ended up in the oven where it belonged.
I subsequently discovered that the St Francis rooster was causing consternation throughout the village. I overheard two botoxed biddies in matching cashmere sweaters talking in an arts and crafts shop. I was in there looking for glue. To sniff, okay? I don’t do arts and crafts. Not yet. But when I do, you can be sure that I will use the plasticine, pipe cleaners and magnetic beads to make the most powerful bomb the world has ever seen. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.
Anyway. These women were speaking in voices that only the very old or very rich think are hushed.
“I saw it for the first time this morning!”
“What was it like?”
“Not as big as you’d think.”
“Cocks are funny like that.”
Maybe they weren’t even talking about the rooster. It doesn’t matter. I left before the conversation could take a nasty turn.
See you all soon.
Ben Trovato is the author of thirteen books, although you wouldn’t think so if you had to see his living conditions. With a background in print and television journalism, Trovato’s popular newspaper columns have earned him a wicked reputation and a fatty liver. He can often be found surfing instead of meeting his deadlines. Trovato lives alone with two regrets and a hangover.