To Save a Life

Kwan woke to a neighbor’s rooster’s crow.  It was a welcome new sound these days, for her.  Other neighbors hated, she knew, these bird alarm clocks. She’d had a rooster someone poisoned once, along with all the hens who lived in her yard.

One morning to her horror and dismay, she went 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 of neighbors doing the same awful thing again.

So when her neighbor brought his rooster home, Kwan loved to hear its crow at dawn, but she feared, at the same time, that it would be poisoned just like hers had been. For many weeks the bird would crow before first light.  Kwan grew more nervous with each passing day.  She was sure that at some point, any day now, that same sick person or another kook would toss poison into her neighbor’s yard.

Kwan decided that she would need to do something to prevent the rooster 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 Kwan, a nervous wreck for hardly being able to sleep for fear of an imminent poisoning, put on a heavy jacket, the morning being so 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. She carefully lifted the latch, and stepped stealthily inside.

Switching on the small flashlight she’d brought with her, Kwan began tiptoeing around the yard searching for the rooster.  With the time for the crowing drawing nearer and nearer, Kwan was sweating so much she wished she’d not worn the jacket.  Desperation grew upon her, and she began calling softly for the rooster, hoping it might come to her.

Just as her anxiety level rose to its peak, she spotted the rooster sitting under a hibiscus bush.  Calling to it, 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.

All of a sudden, the bird began clucking rapidly, then its body started jerking and its head twisting.  Kwan was alarmed and reached out to the bird to try to calm it.  Just as she touched it, the rooster went limp, and as she grasped it, Kwan knew it was dead.  Confused, she instantly decided to 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, I was trying – ”

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

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, and worried that someone might have poisoned it because he’d heard of that kind of thing happening, he came 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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