The Rooster

By David Madrid

Art by Vincent Rogers

        He was the meanest rooster that ever lived.

        I don’t know why I named him Lover Boy, but maybe it was because the hens loved the big white bird.

        I was afraid of Lover Boy, and for good reason, as I will explain.

        I was 5 years old on the fateful day of our violent confrontation. My mom handed me some grain and sent me to feed the chickens. It was my job, and I would have enjoyed it if not for the ill-tempered rooster.

        I crossed the yard and entered the pen where Lover Boy was king. I was careful not to attract the angry bird’s attention. I walked along the opposite side of the pen from where Lover Boy stood watching me. I scattered the feed toward the middle of the enclosure where the hens were gathered waiting for their share.

        I had to be careful. I remembered the day I saw the big rooster tackle my sister and roll her into a mesquite bush. He slashed her with his sharp claws and left her bleeding. He paid a price for that bit of violence, because my brother and I grabbed our BB guns and peppered him good.

        That only made him meaner.

        The rooster allowed me to spread the feed. Thankfully, he appeared to ignore me as I went about my work. When I was done, I nonchalantly walked toward the gate.

        ‘Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me,’ I silently pleaded, but Lover Boy was a clever rooster, and suddenly his red comb appeared to stand straight up.

        Lover Boy decided I wasn’t leaving without a fight. He charged me. While he was only half as tall as me, he was strong and angry. He was always angry. I was mellow and peaceful. The smart rooster sensed my weakness and attacked. Maybe he remembered the BB gun retaliation.

        He pecked my legs. He pecked my arms. As I tried to run, he lunged at me and sunk his sharp beak into my knee and ripped a piece of flesh from it.

        Blood flowed, and I howled. I ran for the gate. The rooster pecked me every step of the way, but finally, I escaped.

        How could I love a bird that hurt me so? I can’t say.

        My mother had to bandage my leg to stop the bleeding, and there was a lot of blood. From that day on, I fed the chickens from outside the fence.

        Despite his violent temper and the flaming scar he left on my knee, I have to admit that I loved that crazy fowl even more, and I forgave him. He got no more BBs from me. Maybe it was my capacity to love that prompted me to name my rooster Lover Boy.

        When the mighty rooster finally died, I cried, and to this day, I proudly show off the scar on my knee left by the meanest rooster that ever lived.

The End

Moral: Forgive your loved ones who hurt you, but make sure you protect yourself so they can’t hurt you again.