YEAR OF THE SNAKE CONTEST
The Funeral of Joey the Rooster
Year of the Snake entry for December. 462 words. Trigger: I don't get it.
Grampa woke up early in the morning and headed in the dark for his twelve ounces of liquid breakfast inspiration. Something was wrong, he thought. It was much too quiet. He went to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. It was a kind of waste of beer, but he hated the taste of toothpaste. One time Gramma had made him try baking soda. That was awful. So now she didn’t question his brushing with beer. “At least,” she said, “he’s brushing.”
The quiet. He couldn’t put his finger on it. He went to the front door and picked up the useless newspaper. Scanning it, he noticed that one of the lesser headlines said an Australian swimmer had mysteriously disappeared off Perth City’s central Cottesloe Beach, possibly the victim of a shark attack, he saw. He made a mental note to read that article later. It was the kind of article that made still buying the useless newspaper a good idea.
Time to feed the oddly quiet chickens. He tapped the fridge one more time and made a mental note to go to Safeway right after he fed the chickens. He always thanked God that there were 24-hour stores these days, and that they started selling beer again very early.
Grampa headed out the kitchen door toward the chicken coop. Something was definitely wrong. The hens mumbled a little, but there was no crowing from Joey. Usually Joey greeted him.
He opened the door to the coop and stepped inside. “Oh my God,” he whispered. He looked at Joey’s body stretched across the floor. It looked like he’d died in his sleep. Grampa sipped on his beer. He wanted to cry, but he never cried, not even when he'd heard that his oldest son had died.
“Oh my God,” he whispered again. He finished off his beer, tossed the can out the door, and knelt to pick up Joey. There were small insects already working on the body. He dropped it.
Turning, he went quickly to the kitchen. He came back with a hand towel and a plastic garbage bag. Carefully he picked up Joey’s body with the towel and then slipped him into the plastic bag. He carried the body to his tool shed, pulled out his pick, went over near the compost pile, and dug a very deep grave.
After covering up the body, he said a short prayer. Then he returned the pick to the shed, retrieved the empty beer can, spread some feed for the hens, and headed for the kitchen. Grampa knew that Gramma would miss Joey sooner rather than later, but he wanted to spare her the news of Joey’s death for as long as possible. Joey was her favorite, he knew.
The sun was finally up.