Editor’s Note: The following is a true account of a true life event in which I saved a chicken in Pinehurst, North Carolina while working as an editorial writer at the FayObserver.com. Stay tuned for the next adventure in Saving Chickens.
I saved a chicken today. It wasn’t easy, trust me. I almost killed the poor thing first, nearly ran over it. I was at the traffic circle, heading into Aberdeen with two lanes of merging traffic and there was the chicken, hunkered down on the white line, stunned from the fall from a truck that was a long time gone.
At first I wasn’t sure what the white ball was. A cat? Too round. A puppy? Where was its head? Then, looking in my rear-view mirror, the one on the door, I saw it flinch, and briefly stick out its beak. I grimaced, fearful that the car rounding the circle would smack it dead. But it didn’t.
I drove on down the road, but I just couldn’t stand it. So I whipped the car around and went back. If that chicken was still alive I swore I was going to help it get to the other side of the road. Or die trying. A very real possibility given the amount of traffic in the circle at that time of the morning.
It hadn’t moved. I could see it across the median. I rounded the traffic circle, moving slower than any other cars. I put on my flashers, to let the people behind me know something was wrong and right when I got the to place where the circle merges to two lanes, I stopped in the right one, in front of the chicken. A car honked. I pointed at the chicken. The driver shrugged. Others sped past me and the chicken in the far left lane.
I wished I had a towel. Something. Anything. There was no way I was actually going to pick up the chicken. I didn’t even know its name. What if it was really a scaredy cat around strangers?What if it had mad bird disease? Or the Asian bird flu?
I remembered the pink cloth grocery bag I had in the trunk. I got that. If only I had the gumption to stuff the chicken in the sack and carry it across the road. But I didn’t. So I used the bag to scooch the chicken from behind.
It didn’t want to move at first. It was scared shitless. So I knelt down, and sort of straddled it across the road, giving it a little oomph from behind as it kept its head burrowed between its wings. Poor little thing.
So how does a chicken get to the other side of the road?
Karen scooches it. Karen straddles it. Karen coaxes it.
It took nearly five minutes.
If only you had been there with a video camera we would have won the Funniest Home Videos.
I couldn’t just leave it.
I moved my car. Thank you kindly motorists for not killing me, though I know some of you really wanted to.
Oh. My. What does one do with a hurt, cold, bleeding chicken?
I covered it with my pink bag.
Konnie called as she does every morning.
“Whatcha doing, Mama?” she asked.
“Saving a chicken.”
“I just saved a chicken. It was in the middle of the road, scared, bleeding.”
“Mama, you are so awesome!” she said, laughing. “Do you still have your Oregon plates on your car?”
“Everybody will just know you’re the crazy lady from Oregon.”
“I suppose,” I said, petting the chicken’s head. “I need a towel. I gotta go. I’m calling Weezie.”
Weezie didn’t believe me when I told her I was with a chicken in the middle of the traffic circle at Pinehurst.
“Karen, are you drunk?”
“Don’t be calling me in the morning telling me you’re with a chicken in the traffic circle.”
“But Weezie, I am with a chicken in the traffic circle and she’s hurt and cold. Bring me a towel.”
“I’m not dressed”
“You don’t have to get out of the car. Just throw me the towel.”
“Leave that chicken there and go on to work,” Weezie instructed.
“No. Bring me a towel. ”
“Alright,” Weezie said.
I called 911.
“I am at the traffic circle with a hurt chicken. It’s got a broken wing, I think.”
“Yeah. A chicken.”
They patched me through to the police, who said they’d notify animal control.
I waited. Me and the chicken. There beside the road. Nobody stopped to offer us aid, until Officer R.C. showed up.
Only in the South would you find an officer named R.C.
Only he was from Arizona. A little town named Cottonwood.
“I like Flagstaff a lot,” I said.
“Most people never think of Flagstaff when they think of Arizona,” said he. “They think of deserts.”
“The aspens in Flagstaff are beautiful,” said I.
“Especially in the fall,” said he. “I wish I could plant some here.”
He got a towel from his car. We covered the chicken.
“You probably wished I’d left the chicken to its fate,” said I.
“No,” said he. “If you see a wounded animal in the road and you can safely get them to safety you should. You did the right thing.”
I rubbed her back. She twisted her head, began to look around. Inched her way to the grass some. Another officer arrived.
Now there were two police cars, lights flashing at the traffic circle. Two policemen. One woman without eggs. And a chicken with a broken wing.
Officer Ray said he ‘d gotten a couple more calls about chickens falling from a truck. They were at another traffic circle but there were no survivors.
“They’ve gone to chicken heaven,” he said.
“What should we name her?” I asked. “She needs a name.”
“Lucky,” said Officer Ray.
“Lucky’s a good name,” I said.
“Animal control doesn’t respond to calls like this,” said Officer R.C.
“So what will we do?” I asked.
“We have a cage coming,” said Officer Ray.
“We’ll get her to a vet,” said Officer R.C.
Weeize drove up. She had a fluffy white towel. Perfect.
A chicken truck drove past, loaded with Lucky’s cousins.
“Hey, Karen,” Weezie said, “Tell your friend she just missed the bus.”
I took the towel. Very funny, Weezie.
“Hey, girl, c’mon on over for dinner tomorrow night. We’re having chicken.”
Everyone’s a comic.
I covered Lucky with the towel. She relaxed her shoulders. Her head popped up. She began to look around. Check things out.
The third officer arrived, with a small cage.
Three officers, two towels, one woman, one chicken and one cage.
Officer R.C. opened the door. I coaxed Lucky.
“She’s saying, you know what happened last time I got into one of these,” R.C. said, chuckling.
I saved a chicken today. It feels good to have been of some help to the wounded in the world.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain, soon to be a stage play, and the forthcoming Burdy. (Mercer University Press).