To Save a Life

       Kwan woke to her neighbor’s rooster crowing.  It was a welcome new sound these days for her.  Other neighbors hated, she knew, these bird alarm clocks. She’d had a rooster, a regal bird, that someone had poisoned, along with every hen that lived in her yard.

       One morning, to her horror, she’d gone out to feed them, as she always did, and found their bodies littered about the yard.  From their contorted corpses it was plain to see they’d died very painful deaths, and she never raised another chicken after that for fear the neighbors would do the same awful thing again.

       So when her new neighbor brought a rooster with him, Kwan loved to hear it crow.  But it was always long before the sun rose, unlike the accepted myth that roosters crow to greet the morning sunrise.   Fear grew in her that this rooster would be poisoned just as hers had been.

       For several weeks the bird crowed before first light.  Kwan grew more nervous with each passing day.  At some point, she was convinced, any day now, the same sick person or some other kook would toss poison into her neighbor’s yard.

       Finally, Kwan decided that she would need to do something to prevent the rooster from being killed.  The plan she devised was to sneak into her neighbor’s yard in the morning just before the usual time of the bird’s crowing.  She would distract the bird by feeding it before it could crow. This seemed like a good idea.

       As sunup approached the next morning, Kwan, a nervous wreck for hardly being able to sleep for fear of imminent poisoning, put on a heavy jacket, the morning being cold, retrieved a bag of feed she’d bought from the cupboard under her sink, and snuck over to the gate of her neighbor’s fenced-in yard. Carefully lifting the latch, she stepped stealthily inside.

       Switching on the small flashlight she’d brought with her, Kwan began tiptoeing around the yard in search of the rooster.  With the time for the crowing drawing nearer and nearer, Kwan was perspiring so much she wished she’d not worn a jacket.  Her desperation grew, and she began calling softly for the rooster, hoping it might come to her.

Just as her anxiety level peaked, she spotted the rooster sitting under a hibiscus bush.  She took a handful of feed and tossed it toward the bird.  Sure enough, he came out from his cozy little lair and began pecking at the food.

       As he ate more and more, Kwan began to relax.  The time he usually crowed, she was sure, had come and gone.  Kwan imagined herself having to do this every morning.  It would be challenging to keep up the routine, but it would be worth it to save the life of this rooster.

       Then something odd occurred.  The bird began clucking rapidly, its body jerking and its head twisting.  Alarmed, Kwan reached out to it in order to calm it.  Just as she touched the rooster it went limp, and as she grasped its body, Kwan knew it was dead.  Confused, she decided the best thing to do was take the bird and run for home.

       As she stood and turned to go, she came face to face with her neighbor.

       “What have you done to my rooster?” the man asked.

       “I, I was trying – ”

       “I’ve heard about chickens being poisoned in this neighborhood,” he said.

       The last thing Kwan saw was the barrel end of her neighbor’s shotgun.

       After dialing 911, the man waited patiently for the police.  Quite a crowd had gathered.

       When the police arrived, the man very calmly explained what had happened. His rooster hadn’t crowed as it usually did every morning.  Worried that someone might have poisoned it because he’d heard of that kind of thing happening, he’d come out into the yard to investigate. He’d found this woman who’d killed his rooster and was trying to run off with the body.

       “And look,” he said, pointing to the bag at Kwan’s side, “she brought an entire bag of Borax with her to poison it.”

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