The “Sombitch” turned twelve yesterday (March 12, 2010). He celebrated his 12-month-old birth on Earth by repeatedly attacking a black umbrella with a sharp, pointed metal top.
“Sombitch” is the bantam rooster my son, Nicholas, raised in his second floor bedroom in our working class town, Conshohocken, just outside Philadelphia, PA. When neighbors politely complained on hearing him and his two sibling roosters (all hatched around the same time), we traded in two of the males for hens, and built a shed to “sound proof” the crowing.
He’s one nasty son-of-a you know what. I can not turn my back on him. He attacks. With almost “deadly” accuracy, seizing a chance to get through any opening. The last assault was four days before his birthday. I opened the small trap door at the bottom side of the shed and turned my head to look to the right while adjusting a tarp. We placed a covering over the opening to ward off wind blowing into the shed where “Cwazy Wabbit,” the white bunny, dwells caged in hutch following his latest “jail break” a few weeks earlier. (He’s got a conjugal visit this weekend with a female rabbit my son is “bunny-sitting.”) An inexpensive electric heater automatically turns on when temperatures drop too low. It’s comfortable inside. Almost cozy. If you don’t mind stepping over and around chicken droppings. They’re everywhere. I think the “Sombitch” waits for the most opportune time to lay one right where he thinks I’ll place my hand without looking. He’s cagey that way. I know I’m anthropomorphisizing, but it’s my reality of Life we’re talking about, not his.
Well, I had just poured pellets of chicken “feed” onto wooden shed floor extension and noticed too late a fast blur from my left side. The side where there’s a detached retina. The side I’ve worn a black patch the past two months.
It’s a blur of white coming from below and up toward my left arm. I pull back, cursing and feeling a piercing pain in my forearm. The “Sombitch” attacked. I had just given him food, and he chose then to “bite the hand that feeds him.”
Grabbing a three-foot long two-by-four I chase him, swatting him in the chest and the side but not the head, wanting to inflict the same hurt he caused me. I rush him, forcing the rooster down the grassy hill and across the red-brick path until we get to the fallow vegetable garden, where he stops. He faces me, and ruffles his feathers, extending his chest and overall posture into a bird seemingly twice his size. There’s no backing down now for the “Sombitch.” He comes after the wooden weapon and jumps “karate-style” aiming both his long skinny legs around the wood and digging in his “spurs” with, evidentially, no fear of pain to himself.
I start to “play fight,” joust with him, shoving the wood first toward his legs and then the head, trying to throw him off-balance, but also letting him think he “got in” a good “shot.”
How did my feelings toward him swing so quickly from revulsion and hate, to admiration and love? I don’t know. He’s a rooster. A fighter, a protector, a fearless bird that can recall no “mother hen-love” except for a small 40-Watt light bulb from a tiny “metal-twisting” lamp heating his cardboard box where he ate, drank and lived with two other chicks who grew to fight him as strutting cocks do day after day. No one should have to start Life that way. Not even a “Sombitch” rooster.
I’ve compromised with the “Sombitch” since the last assault, which drew blood by the way. I carry a long umbrella with me, and “play fight” with him as I climb the hill from our house to his shed. When finished, I return home and hang the umbrella from a large round planter outside the kitchen door. I feel protected and “Sombitch” now gets to play and attack that umbrella to his heart’s content.
Happy Birthday Rooster!