A Fowl Job

I ain’t proud of what I did.

I’m gonna tell you all about it cause I figure, why not? It’s not like anybody gotta make a big deal out of it or nothing. I’m just sayin’ – there was some problems over here that someone had to take care of, and as you might imagine that someone in this particular case turned out to be me. If I had my choices, sure, I’d probably rather not mess around with bumping or whacking things, or what have you, especially with hatchets and knives and such, but that’s not the way things turned out. Way they turned out, I didn’t get a choice. Some thing’s just gotta be done.

Wait – now that I think of it you’re probably wondering what I’m even talkin’ about here.  I gotta remember that some of you guys need catchin’ up.  I’m warning you, you probably ain’t gonna like this story, but it is what it is. So here goes.

First, I’ll come clean: for almost a half year or so the wife and me had this pretty good racket going. I ain’t talking about diamonds or any other swag, nothing like that. What we done, was – let’s just say we was buying food at the market last summer when we come up with this idea. We happened to be gettin’ eggs from this one farmer, and I got to thinkin’ how sweet a racket these farmer types had going on. I mean, when you think about it, these guys spend, what? Ten, fifteen bucks on a hen? Then they sell their eggs to a bunch of phonies at farmer’s markets for like three dollars a dozen. And it’s not like one chicken puts out a handful of eggs and that’s it – the freaking things just keep pumping them out. Talk a bout a cash windfall.

So we figure we can get a piece of that action, right? So long story short, we get ourselves ‘couple hens from some guy up in the city, throw together a coop with a nest inside it, and baddabing, it’s done.  Two chickens, each laying ’bout an egg a day, give or take. Not enough to make any serious cabbage, you know, but enough to keep our fridge stocked. The way I figure it, that’s money we’re not giving to those other joints.

‘Course there was one catch: turns out our city has some kind of rules saying that we could only have one hen, and only if it’s a certain number of yards away from other people’s houses and some crap. You might ask, who’s gonna rat us out? Well the next-door neighbors on one side are straight shooters, so we didn’t have to worry about them, but the old timers on the other side – they’re the type that’ll turn canary in no time, believe me.  They’re always poking around in other people’s business.  They was gonna need…persuading. Personally, I was gonna go over there and set up the old lady for, you know, a little accident, but the wife put the kibosh on that pretty quick.  She tells me, why make things messy when you can use a little honey? Well, that made no sense to me, right? But I figure, maybe she got a point. So she goes over there and starts talking all nice as pie to the old biddy about how we got a chicken or two, and no, they don’t make no noise or nothin’, and how we’d love to give them some of the eggs – you know, crap like that.

Well, the broad must have known what she was talkin’ about, cause whatever she did it worked.  We never heard a peep out of them, even when the birds did make a little noise.

So things went pretty much like that for a few months, and we was happy as clams, eggs coming outta’ our ears, until one of the chickens got sick and stopped producing. I won’t go into the details, but lets just say we spent some serious cabbage taking it to the vet, only to find out that it was gonna have to be, you know, taken care of. That’s right – one of them doctors was gonna ice it for forty-five smackeroos. How’s that for a racket? Forty-five bucks and all they probably do is snap its neck like it’s no big deal.

So we paid the bastards, but I couldn’t get over how maybe we was robbed a little bit.

Well at that point we still had one bird, anyway, but it wasn’t long before we started thinkin’ that maybe one bird wasn’t gonna cut it. Sure, we still get some eggs, but nothin’ like we was used to getting. And okay, so maybe we got greedy, but we started thinking that maybe if we had three of them, then we’d get, like, eighteen, twenty eggs a week. And you know we don’t eat that many eggs, right? And what’ya do when you got too many eggs kicking around? Give ’em away for free? Of course you don’t. You get the picture.

Well the wife, she gets on the computer and starts looking things up, and wouldn’t you know it but after only a couple of hours she’s got a lead on some guys from up north who need to unload some birds, and quick. Course, now that I know what I know, maybe we shoulda’ asked more questions, but at the time we was just thinkin’ about getting it done.

Anyway, so we get Sarah and a couple of cat carrying cases and head out. I was expecting to see some real farmers with a clean joint, but turns out when we get there it wasn’t a nice farm at all, but this dirty, low-class borgata running some kind of livestock breeding racket out of their slummy back yard. I mean, they had everything – chickens, pigs, sheep, you name it. I think I even seen a turkey.

And animals weren’t their only racket, either – they were probably dealing smack or meth outta their house, too. I knew they was up to no good the moment we got out of the car, when from behind me some little cafone and his girl come pulling up in some Nissan, park right behind us, and run up ahead of us to the front door. I didn’t notice it at first, but the wife tells me later that some guy met this kid at the door and handed something off in exchange for some serious bread. Can you believe it? And us there with Sarah, not knowing if she was gonna get snatched up and trafficked, or whatever. Hey, who knows? Shit like that happens all the time.

But we go in and get the chickens anyway, against our better instincts. I figure, let’s just get the goods and get outta there before one of these knuckleheads gets some ideas or starts waving a piece around.

We get home, put them in the coop with the other bird, and that’s that. I figure, we should see eggs comin’ at us from all directions in no time, right?

Wrong. Very next day, if you can believe it, the first chicken – you know, the one we already had – starts coughing and hacking, sneezin’ like nobody’s business. Then we notice the two we just picked up don’t look so hot, neither. A few days go by and they don’t look any better, and get this – none of them are laying even a single egg. So the wife does all this research, makes a couple of phone calls, and long story short, it turns out those bums up north must have sold us some sick hens. Can you believe it? And we, knuckleheads that we are, put them right in the coop with the healthy one.

So over the next couple weeks we gave them antibiotics, and let ’em out every day so that they could get plenty of sun and dig up worms and such, but they didn’t get much better. And eggs? Fuggeddaboutit. We could kiss that racket goodbye.

And it gets worse. Turns out in situations like this one what you gotta do is – how do I say this? – you gotta whack every one of your birds and start all over again from scratch. What a mess. Me, I ain’t ashamed to tell you I wasn’t a bit happy about the whole thing.  I mean, I don’t mind putting hits out on things that deserve it, you know, like a snitch or something, but a few lousy birds? It just didn’t feel right. So we were delaying the inevitable, kind of hoping things would get better, when finally come last week we realize that it’s gonna have to get done, and quick, whether we like it or not.

Of course we thought about that vet, and how he can do the job for forty-five bucks a pop. But that’s almost a hundred and fifty big ones, when you count all three, and there was no way we was gonna cough that up.

So I figured it was gonna have to be me that does it.

I wanna come clean here – before this I ain’t never bumped nothing or nobody. It’s just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong – I know plenty of wise guys that do it without so much as breaking a sweat. I’ve even seen this one guy, as nice a guy as you’d see – gimpy from a broken ankle, too – whack a mouse with one of his crutches. Just like that, cold as ice. Me, I can’t stomach it.

But I had no choice, as I said.  So we picked a day. The wife took Sarah to school in the morning, rubbing out a bunch of chickens being one of them jobs you don’t want nobody hanging around watching, and I stuck around to do the hit.  It was gonna have to be quick, so as soon as they left I started setting everything up. I had a hatchet, a nice jackknife, and a brand-new meat tenderizer that I bought just for the occasion. I did some browsing on the computer, too, and watched a bunch of videos about the whole thing. Turns out for a lot of people whacking chickens is like second nature. Kind of gruesome, I know, but at least I got some ideas.

Eventually I come up with two ways of doing it that I figured would work: first, you get a bird down on a board or somethin’ and you whack it’s melon off with a cleaver; and second, you hold it over a sink, get it at the jugular with a shank, and hold on tight while it, you know, drains.

There were other ways, of course, but they weren’t going to suit me. I ain’t going into no details; you can use your imagination.

I wanted to do the first method, the cleaver one, because it seemed the quickest. Of course like I said before I didn’t have no cleaver – all I had was an old, dull hatchet.  I tried to give it a nice edge by running the blade over some brick I had out back, but even after several passes it still looked pretty blunt. Still, it was better than the meat tenderizer. My backup plan was gonna be the second method, you know, the one over the sink, so I made sure I had that nice, sharp jackknife on hand in case Plan A didn’t work out so well.

Which it didn’t. Not with the first bird, anyway. You remember that movie where the gangsters are on their way up to do a hit, and one of them says to the other one, “we should have shotguns?”  Well on the morning of the job I go out there with my hatchet and all I’m thinking is, “I should have a cleaver.” And I think it’s pretty well established that any time you got something to do that requires a cleaver, you should make pretty fricken’ sure that you got a cleaver when you’re doing it.  Not Einstein over here, though. Me, I’m armed with a hunk of metal so dull you couldn’t cut a loaf of bread in two.

But I gave it a go. It wasn’t pleasant. Let’s just say there was a struggle, and it took me a couple tries. I just thank god the old biddy next door didn’t happen to look out the window or she’d of had an aneurysm.

I decided to go with Plan B for the next two. The upside – no more violent whacks with a blunt hatchet. Downside? I gotta hold the thing in my arms over a sink and do the job with my own bare hands and a jackknife. Kinda’ personal, you know? Plus, I must be no good at finding jugulars, ’cause even that took a couple tries.

I’m gonna skip the details, and just say that I got the job done. I was a nervous wreck, though, and had to put down a shot of booze afterward just to calm down. Once I got my nerves in line I went back outside and cleaned everything up as quick as possible.

Now the last thing I needed was some screw finding out what I done and hitting me with a nice fine, or worse, so next up I was gonna have to, you know, dispose of the evidence.

When we first talked about doing this we figured we’d just toss them into one of those big, heavy trash bags and pop it into the trash bin out in the back alley. That would’ve worked okay normally, but of course in this case the trash was never taken the week before, on account of us forgetting to put the bin out where the truck could reach it. As a result the thing was already full to the rim – I mean, you couldn’t even close the friggen’ lid. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t gonna have a bag of carcasses sitting right at the top of the trash bin there, baking away in the sun until next pickup.  So we got to thinking about finding some other location to dump them.

Well, it just so happens that a couple days prior we had already cased out an alley a few blocks away, in order to dispose of a rodent we had found in the house, and had found a nice dumpster, right behind an apartment building, that looked perfect for the job. You know, not too well-lit or anything. The lid was even up. So I figure, I’ll stash the remains in the garage until nightfall, then sneak out after everyone was in bed and head over to make the drop. As long as nobody saw what I was doing, I figured it’ll be quick work.

So when night came around, I threw on some dark clothes, grabbed the bag of remains, and lit out for the alley. Just to be safe, the wife had found a large, pink shopping bag for me to bring along. She figured that way it would look like I was just carrying around some presents, or something, and not a heavy, black plastic bag filled with dead chickens. She’s always thinking, that one.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to sneak around your neighborhood after dark in order to illegally chuck a bag of dead animals you’ve recently whacked into some stranger’s dumpster, but if you haven’t, let me tell you it ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. First of all, the route wasn’t as dark as I was figurin’ it would be – I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it the last time, but the street lights lit the place up like it was noon.  Plus it turns out that the nearby shopping district had had what they call a “Stroll and Savor” event earlier in the evening, when all the restaurants peddle food outside on the sidewalk and all the locals hoof around stuffing themselves. It was supposed to have ended by then, but people must have still been hanging around ’cause believe me when I say I probably passed maybe twenty people, most of them walking their freakin’ Bichon Frises.  I even had to give a couple of teenagers directions, for god’s sake.

On top of all that, I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen if someone I knew drove by. I mean, what if they seen me walking, and pulled over for a chat. With my luck it probably woulda’ been someone that worked at Sarah’s school. Can you picture that? Try explaining that one to your daughter’s twenty year-old piano teacher.

Anyway, long story short, I made it to the apartment building and there of course is some broad standing outside her front door, smoking a butt. I breezed past her without even looking up, cut down the alley, and dropped the bag in the dumpster without missing a beat. I made a bee-line for the other end of the alley, and believe me, the whole time I was half expecting to hear some old biddy shouting “Hey, you there! – What you doing?” out of some second-floor window or something. But I guess nobody seen nothin’, ’cause I made it to the end of the alley just fine.

And no, I didn’t go right home – I went straight to the nearest watering hole and tied one on. You’d have done the same, too, if you was me. Believe me.

So that’s that. Thing’s have settled down here, for a while anyway. Nobody came poking around asking questions, and the neighbors haven’t made a peep, so we’re good there. It’s been over a week, so the dumpster we used must’ve been emptied by now, too. We figure, no news is good news, right? Plus, after a couple weeks it turns out the place should be clean enough for us to get some more chickens back in. This time, though, we figure we’ll get them when they’re chicks. You know what I mean – all cute and fuzzy little yellow things. Sarah’s gonna get a kick out of it. And then, when they get big enough, we’ll get even more eggs.

C’mon – you didn’t think we were gonna’ give up a racket as good at that one, did you?

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