Head on the Table

Sarcasm, satire and cartoons

The Chicken Scratcher

Written By: Sy - May• 13•11

  At age 84 Roger Pulpit had accomplished enough of his life’s goals to feel fairly satisfied with himself and he harbored few regrets.

  Anymore, the only thing that mattered to him was the love he shared with his wife, Connie, and today was a special day, it was her 78th birthday.

  It was mid-June and the morning air was a comfortable 78 degrees. “ Seventy-eight degrees for Connie’s 78th birthday.” Roger thought. He took this as a favorable omen that the day would go well.

  The family had planned a surprize party for Connie out at the park that afternoon and Roger was on his way to buy her present, and he knew just what she could use, a new chicken scratcher.

  “You always scratch the chickens first,” Connie would say, “and you always use a quality scratcher, and” she would go on, “Norman Puddle’s is the only place to get a good quality scratcher,” so that’s where Roger was headed

  Norm’s was a bit of a drive. Several miles down the highway and a few more down a  back gravel road.

  Roger turned on the car radio, which he always kept tuned to the local experimental rock station. Despite his age he still considered himself a forward thinker and non-conformist. The Protruding Nay-Bobs latest offering, “I looked for you in earnest”  had just begun playing. Roger sang along.

  I looked for you in Naples/I looked for you in Prague/Isearched the back of a dollar bill/Iwent through the food chain/and when I couldn’t find you/I started to get scared/I looked for you in earnest/but Earnest said that you weren’t there

  Connie never understood why Roger even listened to that stuff. “It’s just silly.” she would say. “”It has no meaning.”

  Roger would explain that the music had value, whether the meaning was clear or not, because it showed that they lived in a society where people had the freedom to express individual thought and in his opinion, there was nothing that was of more value. Otherwise you never have progress he would say.

  Roger than began to think about his age, and wonder just how much of a progressive act, life really was. In the beginning, sure, there was a lot to look forward to, but eventually it was all down-hill. He likened it to the adage of how far one could walk into a forest, which, of course is half-way, because after that you’re walking out. Even if you turn around, you’re still walking out. The only way to avoid walking out would be to just stand in one place, in which case you’d be going nowhere. “Like this train of thought.” he laughed.

  Just up ahead Roger spotted the sign for Norm’s, looming on a huge bill-board on the side of the road, it read, Norman Puddle’s Chicken Ranch and Wholesalery. He pulled into the parking lot and stepped out of the car into a cloud of gravel dust. He walked across the lot, up the two steps and across the porch of the country store and entered to the clanging of the cow bell above the door.

  Noone else was there except for Norm. Norm was medium built with thinning blond hair and dressed in his usual country overalls.

  “Morning, Norm.” Roger said, “I need a scratcher, you’re best one, you know the chrome job with the fancy silicon handle.”

  “You sure that’s all. I got a lot of other nice stuff the missus might like.”

  Indeed he did. Norm’s little country store boasted an impressive array of the latest in poultry preparation parapheralia. There were frigid meat moisture delimiters, broiler broth searing rods and whistle top wing bone nullifiers, among other items. All by top name manufacturers.

  “Connie got no need for any of that fancy stuff. Just the scratcher will do.” Pulpit replied.

  “Comin’ right up.” Norm answered.

  When Roger got back to his car, he was surprized to hear that the second verse of the Naybob’s song had just begun playing. “This must be an extended version I’m not familiar with.” He thought. He sang along again.

  So then I got my nerve up/and I placed a telephone call/to someone who I thought knew you/but they said they didn’t know you at all/thought they were being evasive so I/turned the screws threadbare/Ijust couldn’t accept it/when they said that you weren’t there

  By time Roger got to the park, he knew everyone would already be there. Their  two  daughters, Jenny and Ann would have already picked up their mom on the pretense of going shopping and brought her to the park instead, where other family members and friends would be waiting. Roger didn’t want to be there for the surprize, he liked showing up afterwards.

  He drove between the heavy iron gates that flanked the entrance to the park and drove slowly passed the other picnicers who were also out enjoying the weather at assigned party spots marked by large, engraved slabs of stone.

   ” This sure is an expensive place for a party.” Roger thought.

  As long as I’ve traveled down this road/there’s one thing I’ve come to respect/and that’s as far as you’ve seen/and as much as you’ve learned/you’re never sure what happens next

  He pulled up to their party spot and Connie walked over to the car, as beautiful as the day he had met her, he thought. She had a huge smile on her face and they hugged for a moment, without say a word, before going over to join the others.

  Through-out the afternoon old stories were retold and old jokes were re-laughed at, and the party-goers passed the time enjoying themselves and not one dwelled on how much time had already passed them.

  And then it was over.

  Roger was deep into conversation with Connie, when a middle-aged man in a dark suit approached them and told them that the park was closing and that they would have to leave. Roger looked around and saw that all of the others had already gone and he hadn’t even noticed.

 ”Well, let me help you clean up before I go,” Roger said.

  “It’s alright, sir. I’ll take care of it.” The man answered.

  When Roger and Connie got home, Connie said she was exhausted and was going to bed, but that the chicken scratcher was her favorite present and she promised to make something special with it the next day.

  Roger decided to stay up and watch tv for while, but within minutes was fast asleep in his chair.

  When Roger awoke it was daylight. He went to the bedroom, but Connie was already up. He went to the kitchen and looked out the window. There she was, as usual out in the garden. Connie loved working and reading out in the garden, while Roger had always liked to stay in the house and do things.

  Anymore their paths didn’t seem cross very much, but that was OK, as long as they were together and still happy.

  Besides, Roger had Saturday to look forward to. Saturday was going to be a special day. Everyone was going to meet out at the park for a surprize party, because it was going to be Connie’s 78th birthday and Roger knew just what he wanted to get for her.

   So I got out a roadmap/and looked for towns that had no names/I went to a couple that I never found/and then I went back home again/I know someday I’ll discover you/I’m just not quite sure exactly where/I’ll just have to look in earnest until he says you’re there/until Earnest says you’re there/until he says you’re there/until Earnest says you’re there

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10 Comments

  1. Ice9 says:

    well that was cute, in a creepy sort of way. Ok, maybe it wasn’t so cute.

  2. psychodoodle says:

    yup… i got creeped out too… :| bit on the eerie side eh Head? i’m jealous of u by the way.. that you can create life-like stories… i haven’t once been able to.. it just hasn’t happened.. how does it work? (serious question) do you get a small idea and sit and expand it at your key pad or you suddenly get a flash of a whole story in your head or what? how do stories happen for you because one has not yet happened for me :| also, how are u? long time no see..! never seen actually.. but long time.. how’s life in general? :)

    • Sy says:

      Good, hope you are too. nice to talk to you again. I’ve been neglecting this site for that Kwipster site lately, ’cause it’s kind of addicting, but the story ideas do just come, like the Mary Slimship. I saw that guy with the facial deformities on the train, and the opening line, through the end of the dance scene just ran through my head and I just repeated it to myself for next 30 mins or so, ’til I could get to my car and scribble it down. Other times what seems like a great idea never pans out to anything, but it’s fun when it happens.
      Thanks for the ego massage, and when you do write something I’ll be reading it. Maybe you could rewrite some of the boring Sri Lankan fiction you didn’t like. Spice it up to your liking, maybe give everyone outrageous hair styles, awesome nails and all they do is sit around and talk about how they want to die, but in a upbeat fun tone.

  3. psychodoodle says:

    :D hmmm!! haven’t been inspired to write lately… usually write when i’m in a bad mood.. Haven’t gotten worked up about anything particular in awhile.. Trying to find a home for a pup at uni these days.. We seem to have formed a weird emotional bond between the the 2 of us and I’m kinda obsessed with her… Can’t bring her home coz my dog’s a bit of a monster when it comes to other animals.. Sigh… And i didn’t know kwipster, just googled it, shall check it out… Do you go under the same name?

  4. psychodoodle says:

    ‘member of the staff’?? :P *shaking my head, and shaking my head some more* (Making mental note to be VERY CAREFUL with what I say to you- but wait I won’t be able to speak at all in that case). Spare me ok! Please! :P

  5. sy says:

    It was an obvious pun and since noone else said it I thought I would.
    I was disappointed that my kwipster remark on mixing the life expectancy test with the pregnancy test didn’t rate better. maybe it was too dark, but personally it was one of my favorites.
    And don’t be careful. That’s no fun.

  6. elmer says:

    Good stuff. Reminds me of the Twilight Zone.

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