Back for Seconds…

I posted the following piece last Friday. I’m sharing it again as part of a wee test. Read the short tale; let me know what you think… The story itself is not the test. In my next post, I promise to tell you what I have been trying to figure out since I published the original entry.

I Confess to Stealing Three Chicken Heads
by Magaly Guerrero

The boiling water Jaime used to soften the chickens’ skins smelled like a grave of wet dogs. I watched his steam-reddened hands rip off feathers, rinse pale birds, and remove entrails. The stench birthed shallow breaths and bile out of my gut, but I didn’t let on.

“Don’t let them fall in the dirt,” he said, throwing a still full gizzard into the bucket I held in front of me. “When you’re done, set aside three heads for Marianella.”

I sliced one side of the gizzard, making sure not to damage the lining that separated undigested feed from flesh. I rinsed it out, and handed it back to Jaime to add to the rest of the giblets. Then I put three chicken heads in a plastic bag.

“Marianella didn’t come,” I said, as I washed my hands. “She must have no money again.”

“Throw them in the burning pile,” he told me.

Without saying anything, I grabbed the bag with the chicken heads and started walking towards the burning pile.

I circled the pile for a minute, poked it with a stick a time or two, and when Jaime’s eyes shifted from me, I threw the bag three feet above the flames. The heads hit the dirt with a plastic thud, and I crossed my fingers before turning around to check if Jaime had seen me.

“Come early on Sunday,” he shouted, from where he stood by the chicken table. “And tell your mom you’ve almost earned half a chicken.”

“I’ll tell her,” I said. When Jaime turned around, I collected the heads from the dirt, and took them to Marianella for her cats.

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“Can you see me through the clouds and through the leaves, Niño Jesús? I’m sitting on the thick mango root that’s cracking the foundation of the house.” I looked, saw no lightning, and went on. “I took from Jaime today; three chicken heads. I’m sorry if you’re angry with me. But old cats shouldn’t go hungry because Marianella has no money to buy trash. Amén.”

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Inspired by the first post I ever wrote, back in May of 2009.

Fire, by MagicLoveCrow
“Fire”, by MagicLoveCrow

19 thoughts on “Back for Seconds…

  1. I agree with Rommy. Stacy’s picture really puts an exclamation point at the end of the story. Still like the story, even though the first paragraph brings up that yucky smell into my memory. And, the kid has compassion…and guts! (No pun intended)

  2. Your tale & Stacy’s fiery artwork make the perfect companions 🙂
    It makes me cranky that people rather throw away or destroy something than let others use it/eat it/love it just because they can’t ‘pay’ for it… Marianella and her cats can thank a girl’s sense of right, empathy & maybe non vengeful gods for the gift of someone else’s trash. Thinking that selfish desire to destroy rather gift something of little or no use to you is a rampant blight on humanity, whether it be at the top of corporate multinational companies, or in the poorest communities… the world could be better & it needs little souls like the girl in this tale to make it so.

    • I was fired from a job once in my life. I used to work at a restaurant, and we were told we had to throw away anything that was left at the end of the night in the dumpster. Whenever I closed, I would put the leftover food in clean plastic bags and set it in a box next to the dumpster for the homeless. In my naive teenager’s mind, I believed that I was following the rules and making sure things didn’t go to waste. Someone told the manager and I was fired the next day… after a long lecture on “the psychology of selling and profiting”.

      I still get a nasty taste in my mouth when I think about that day. I will never be able to understand a world in which people choose money over other people…

  3. The olfactory descriptions were vivid enough to make me decide against a midnight snack. Eeewww! I love how she talks to baby Jesus and seems at first contrite then let’s him know very clearly she’s not because she did what was right. Sweet cheeky girl. I adore her. A burning crow spirit surely lives inside her.

    • Sorry about your midnight snack. But I’m kind of happy that the environment of the tale expressed the disgusting nature of its motif. I bet the “cheeky girl” is grinning, right now. 😀

  4. It’s interesting because the palpable icky-ness of the smelly viscera (and I say this as a person who will not touch chicken giblets) ends up paling in comparison to the icky-ness of casual waste in the face of need… which is rather clever writing, I’d say!

    • I feel the same way… but I’ve known a lot of business owners who think rather differently. I know more than one–me included–who got fired for making sure that the homeless had access to left overs.

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