I have been writing poems and short stories for years, some of which I have published independantly. I also blog. Writing is a loved hobby.
It's all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.
— George Bernard Shaw
My hands trembled. I can’t do this when you look at me like that and chatting at me, Mister Belvedere. STOP IT!
As if he heard my internal barrage of thoughts, Mister Belvedere stopped chattering, and really looked at me, his head tilted curiously to the side.
Was it me, or was that a glimpse of intelligence I saw in his dark, glittery eyes? Did he know already that I was here to kill him?
“I’m so sorry. I know we have known each other a long time, and you did your task faithfully and made everyone pretty much happy and satisfied, but I’m afraid… I’m… your time has come, Mister Belvedere. I’m here to kill you. I don’t want to, but the Old Man, he said everyone under our charge here has to do the ultimate sacrifice towards the end, and die.”
Oh sweet heavens, I was sniffling.
“Aaron! Stop with the drama and make the kill!” Speak of the devil….er, I meant the old dude in charge, the Big Boss.
The Old Man was again bellowing from outside for me to make the move, as if he thought that I was procrastinating and being melodramatic.
As if, pfftt!
But apparently Mister Belvedere heard him too, and as if he understood the order that he was not privy to, he backed away warily.
And maybe it was my confused mind and blurry eyes, but I could swear he had this cunning look on his face, and a determination in his small black eyes, to fight until his last breath.
“Come on, Mister Belvedere, don’t make this any harder for both of us. It has to happen, don’t you see? So please, come here and let me do this.” I coaxed in a low voice.
I lifted the knife with my right hand, while my left was held out in front of me to ward off any unwanted attack from my potential victim, as I slowly and carefully moved towards him.
Mister Belvedere did not move.
Either he was resigned to his fate, or knowing the cunning little creature, he was most probably waiting for an opportunity, to do what I had yet to find out.
Oh no, you don’t. I’m going to do this, the Old Man’s counting on me to make this kill. Besides, I can’t have Ryan laughing at me for a botched job now, can’t I? Everyone’s going to laugh at me. As much as I don’t want to, it’s either my reputation or your life, and it has to be your life.
And with that thought firmly resolved in my head, I made a sudden rush towards Mister Belvedere.
For a moment, time stood still, he stood still, and I was definitely not stood still.
I was thinking, It’s going to happen, he’s going to let me catch him and kill him and this will soon be over!
The fingers of my left hand were literally inches away from grasping his neck when at last he made his move.
With a loud scream which practically made me jump a foot in the air, he launched at my face.
Have you ever had a deranged bat literally screeching and launching at your face?
Yeah, me neither and I pray we all never had to find out what that felt like. But, I came close to experiencing the horrible experience that day; not an experience I wanted a repeat of.
I dropped my knife and screamed back, my hands automatically covering my face from any attack.
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
A set of claws hit my arms which were held before my face and I felt the claws dug into my flesh, deep enough to draw blood, even as the most God-awful screech filled my ears. I flailed and tried to beat him off, then the next thing I knew, I was falling backward.
I blinked dizzily up at the barn’s rafter and saw stars.
Mister Belvedere was perched mightily on my chest still screeching loudly and angrily, my knife flung several feet away.
With a last scolding screech, Mister Belvedere swiped once at my cheek with his claws, thank God he missed my eye, hopped off my chest, then with his chest puffed up, strutted out of the barn.
Once outside, he gave a loud screech of triumph.
Oh shame, oh woe is me, I lamented internally.
I could hear the Old Man and Ryan laughing their fool heads off. I could just imagine Ryan falling of the porch and rolling around in the dirt in mirth, while the Old Man would be chortling merrily along and making smoke circles with his pipe.
Hold on a minute, did I fall on some shit?
I was in a state of disbelief. Talk about double misery.
Feeling humiliated and defeated, I slowly picked myself up.
Yeah, it was totally a pile of manure I fell on; probably belonged to Mister Belvedere, his last act of victory over me.
I picked up my knife and held it loosely.
It was with a face red not so much out of anger and pain as it was of embarrassment that I hobbled out of the barn, ready to face the music
Oh ye heavens, the chuckling duo had been joined by the Old Lady, I mentally whined.
The three of them were laughing merrily at my misfortune, although the Old Lady was clearly trying to not be so obvious about it.
I frowned darkly at them, not caring anymore that I might offend the Old Folks, picking straws out of my hair and shirt while trying to avoid touching the crap which literally covered most of me.
Ryan picked himself up from the dirt still chuckling, and the Old Lady stood just behind the Old Man with her hands on his shoulders, and she smiled kindly at me.
The Old Man just looked at me with mirth, his eyes still twinkling.
I walked the few steps to stand before the porch and stood before them, resigned as I was to their laughter.
“Go ahead. Say it. I failed. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make the killing. Laugh at me” I sighed, feeling sorry for myself.
Ryan laughed again, “Not only that, little brother, but you managed to roll around in shit, literally, and come out smelling like it.”
Grrrr! I glared at him, wishing the fiery gaze of my fury would burn his silly ass…er, behind.
Not that he cared, “So, I guess no chicken for dinner tonight then?” Ryan fell over again in laughter.
Yeah, go ahead, chuckles, laugh at my misery why don’t you? I scowled.
“Really, Aaron” the Old Lady, my Grandma, rebuked albeit gently, “I told you that you shouldn’t have named that rooster. He’s not your pet you know, he’s food. That’s why you couldn’t kill him.”
And the Old Man, my Grandpa? He just looked at me with mirthful eyes, and drew on his pipe.
If he was really disappointed he didn’t show it. In fact, I could almost catch the tiny glitter of understanding and resigned acceptance on his face.
“Sorry grandpa, he escaped from me.” I admitted shamefacedly.
He tapped his pipe on the steps, looked me up and down, and said, “So I see. And he just made chicken feed out of you too.”
His eyes twinkled and a small grin twitched his mouth.
Ryan and Grandma both burst into merry laughter, again, while I looked ruefully down my body. “Yeah, I guess he did, and I am. I’ll admit when a rooster had the best of me.”
The Old Man finally stood up and walked towards me.
This is it. He’s gonna call me a failure, and rightly so too. I failed the task he gave me.
The expectation didn’t make it any easier to stand still before him though.
I dreaded to hear his pronouncement of my obvious failure to execute the job he gave me, and my eyes dropped to the ground.
Old Man Grandpa stood before me, and for a long moment there was silence except for the subdued sound of mirth from Ryan.
Finally Grandpa said, “I figured as much, that this is how it’ll turn out. But I told you to do it anyway, you know why?”
“Why?” I asked, shuffling my toes on the ground and refusing to meet his eyes..
“It’s nothing difficult to deduce, actually. I mean, we eat chicken all the time,” he waved his pipe around the way he would when trying to make a point, which he was.
“We want to eat chicken tonight, and your grandmother decided that that rooster is just right for consumption, rather than sacrifice all the prime males we have and the egg-laying females. It really was his time to die, son. All you had to do was make the kill, and we’d have roast chicken tonight. But he escaped, obviously.” And there was that tiny hint of rebuke in his voice.
“I know.” I mumbled.
“Come on now, just look at me, son.” His voice was kind and a bit amused.
I reluctantly looked up at his face.
Planning your own coming-of-age experience may wither you prematurely, but just think of it this way. If you can get through this, childbirth should be a breeze.
— Mimi Pond
His eyes were kind and full of mirth. I felt that tightness in my chest ease. I had never liked to disappoint him.
He smiled at me, “You know, there’s always tomorrow.” He winked and I smiled back then shuddered dramatically.
“Oh come on!” That was from Ryan. He had stopped chuckling by then. “You have to know that you gotta do your part around here, you can’t expect me and grandpa to make all the kill. Not if you wanna eat chicken too!”
“Hush, you!” Grandma swiped at his head. “Need I remind you how you did when it was first your turn? If I recall, you did just as bad!” And she winked at me in support.
I smiled gratefully at Grandma while Ryan sputtered indignantly in the background.
“That’s true, son. You have to do it sooner or later. After all, need I remind you that we grow our own food around here, and that does include poultry.” Grandpa chuckled. “So, I figure, tomorrow is as good a time as any for you to try again. Mustn’t give up, you know.” He finished somewhat importantly.
I glared unconvincingly at them both even as my mouth twitched in repressed mirth.
“All right! I’ll do it tomorrow!” I threw up my hands.
“Really?” This from both Ryan and my Grandma.
I supposed they didn’t expect me to agree so easily, much less try again so soon.
My Grandpa was looking quite serene, though.
I grinned smugly at them all, “Yes, really. Tomorrow, I’ll have my second date with Mister Belvedere.”
Ryan snorted and Grandma shook her head at me, but they both smiled easily.
They could do worse, such as mocking me and expounding on my failure repeatedly, especially Ryan that dum-dum.…err I mean, my wise older brother.
Grandma smoothed down her long dress and sighed once, “So, everyone. Potatoes and pie tonight? Aaron will help me since he let our main dish escaped.”
Ryan said, “Yeah!” and I reluctantly acquiesced, “Okay Grandma.”
Grandpa had the last word though, “And Aaron?”I turned back to look at him. “No more naming the poultry. It makes it that harder to kill them. They’re food, not your pet.”
He slapped me on my back once, then strolled leisurely back to the house.
Ryan of course had to laugh again, and Mister Belvedere, that dratted rooster?
He had found a perch on the front gate and was rustling his feathers.
As if he could sense me watching him, he lifted his head proudly and gave a loud cry of triumph towards the sky.
That dratted rooster indeed. You and I have a date tomorrow, sir, one in which I am determined to get the upper hand.
I followed everyone in to the house to wash the filth off myself.
You can find the first chapter here
© 2019 Lynne Samuel