So, Yeah – I know I haven’t been writing on here as much as I said I would. Feel free to direct complaints to the “Complaint Department”, which as I have mentioned before, is just a room full of drunken, shotgun-wielding monkeys.
Today’s story is one from my years of living in south Texas – San Antonio specifically, and was inspired by my craving for fajitas.
One afternoon I was invited to a family Bar-B-Q in a little town a couple hours south of San Antonio in a part of the world that was sniffing distance from the Mexican border. Needless to say, I was the only caucasian for at least 75 square miles. I was also the only non-native Spanish speaker in the same radius. Combine and insurmountable language barrier with the fact that I’d been drinking most of the day before we even got to the cookout, and it was destined to be an interesting afternoon.
In this particular part of the world, neighborhoods are more like compounds. Several little houses all loosely organized on a chunk of land, all clumped together in the middle of nowhere. The afternoon started off simply enough: amazing food, conversations I couldn’t understand, laughter (mostly at my expense), and more booze. In those days, I never traveled without at least one large bottle of moderately priced whiskey, so I was a big hit. Especially for “grandma”, who nearly immediately drank half of the bottle.
After eating a late lunch/early dinner the men all migrated down the street to another house with a low concrete wall surrounding it. In the back yard, I was introduced to my first cockfight. The men all stood around placing bets, cheering. I stood quietly at the edge of the crowd and tried not to make an ass of myself…
The next thing I know, my buddy comes through the crowd and whispers more conspiratorially than I was comfortable with, “How much cash do you have?” The mischief in his eyes was contagious. “I don’t know? A hundred?” I said. “Give it to me,” he said with his hand out. So I did. He giggled and wandered back into the crowd.
15 minutes later he comes back through the crowd at a little faster pace than before. It wasn’t his return that had me baffled, or even his pace. It was the two cages he was carrying – one in each hand. Cages that contained, as I called them: “Mexican Fightin’ Chickens”.
As my buddy got to me, he held his arms out, handing me the cages. “Here. Now Let’s get the hell out of here!” Slightly confused, I said, “Are these MINE?”
“Yes they are, come on,” he said over his shoulder.
“I have Mexican Fightin’ Chickens?!” I said as I started off after him.
How could my buddy have ever know that it was always my dream to liberate a Mexican Fightin’ Chicken from his impending violent doom? I’d dreamed of this day. It was like giving a gladiator one of those wooden swords like in that movie about gladiators. You know the one… With Russel Crowe… Can’t think of the name…
Anyhoo, here I was with not one, but TWO Mexican Fightin’ Chickens to free. The only problem was that apparently whoever had lost the pair was quite pissed about it, and we had to make tracks back to the relative safety of my buddy’s house. Once we got back and were fairly convinced that we weren’t about to be murdered, I was able to relax and revel in my newly acquired Fightin’ Chickens.
I stole my whiskey back from Grandma, made myself a drink and went over to the two cages containing Maximus and Gerald, as I had named them. (I only knew one gladiator name, and Gerald just looked like a Gerald.) Knowing I couldn’t have Fightin’ Chickens in my apartment, I figured this was a great new home for my boys. So, realizing my dream, I unlatched their cage doors and set them free…
They wandered tentatively out of their cages, heads gentle bobbing in their funny chicken way. Yellow eyes glanced around nervously as my proud Mexican Fightin’ Chickens took in their first beakholes of freedom. Their little heads swiveled as they spotted each other and their heads twitched in excitement as if to say “hey buddy – we are free!” My dream of fightin’ chicken liberation was complete.
… and then they promptly, efficiently, and brutally murdered each other.
No shit, it took them all of about 4 seconds to kill each other.
I stood there in complete shock as everyone around me just stared on in indifference.
“NOOOOO!!” I wailed as I walked over to the two dead chickens. I stood there looking back at my buddies, mouth open, horror on my face, frantically pointing at my recently freed, now dead chickens, utterly confused. I was traumatized.
Meanwhile, apparently this whole scene was the funniest thing anyone there had ever seen.
“What did you expect, gringo?” My buddy asked, “that’s what they do, dumbass.”
“I…I thought maybe they were on the same team. Maybe they were so happy to be free from their lives of sport fighting, and were able to settle down and have chicken families. No more fear of the trainer’s stick, or the opponent’s spur. I wanted them to be happy, and free of their lives of servitude… WHY? Why Maximus? Why Gerald?”
“Gammill,” My buddy said, “You’re an idiot. They are roosters. That’s what they do”
A single tear rolled down my cheek…
Grandma quietly collected the chickens, and took them to their final resting place: the kitchen. Where she made delicious fajitas. The most expensive and heart-breaking fajitas ever.