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He Who is Attaked by Animals
When I was in grade school, my family lived seven miles outside of Lincolnton, Georgia, about fifty miles north of Augusta. It wasn't really a farm because technically farms produced something; all our farm produced was trouble. We owned probably some of the most vicious animals in Lincoln County. This tended to keep the flow of friends to our house down to a minimum. Many of our friends had been bitten, kicked, cut, and bruised at the very least. These attacks could cause physical and emotional trauma at worst, and the publicity surely didn't encourage other friends to visit. We had chickens, cows, horses, cats, dogs, turkeys, fish, and geese. As harmless as some of these animals may sound, I was severely injured by every one of them. From being kicked and bucked by the horses, to being bitten and mauled by the dogs, we knew it all firsthand.
One day my mother, unknowingly, made our situation worse. She went to visit her best friend, Molly, who was a fellow animal lover and member of the Lincoln County Humane Society. Molly would occasionally invite our family over for dinner, and we always went, never suspecting her underlying scheme to rid herself of annoying and potentially dangerous pets. She had collected these animals through the years from abusive families. Molly was quite a character. It was amazing how she could manipulate a conversation about her grandmother's spaghetti recipe to how much my mother would enjoy having one of her smelly goats or pissed-off fighting cocks as a pet of her own. I didn't understand how these conversations could persuade my mother, yet they worked every time.
Once Molly decided to convince my mother that we undoubtedly had to have a six-month-old fighting cock that had been confiscated by the Sheriff's Department. It had formerly belonged to our third cousin, Billy Joe Paradise, who had traveled to Louisiana on the weekends to fight his batch of cocks and had told my brother and me, time and again, how much fun it was. Though we were not into animal cruelty, thanks to Molly we were blessed with his offspring anyway, and the rooster became ours.
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When we arrived home, as soon as the rooster was released, it headed straight for my brother and me. We did not accept this as a good first impression. My mother had a pet turkey that the rooster immediately teamed up with. The routine practice for the two was to run after their prey, animal or human, until it collapsed from exhaustion. Their attack strategies were similar to those of the Raptors on Jurassic Park. The turkey would let its presence be known to distract the attention of the prey, while the actual attack came from the rooster who was cleverly hidden to the side. The rooster would usually attack your leg, but in my case, since I was so small, the attack would occur most of the time at my mid and upper body. The rooster's preferred tactic was a side swipe with its leg, while the turkey would counter with wing beating and pecking. Even at the age of eight, I had concluded that these could prove to be permanently damaging to my health, so I tried to stay as far from these two animals as possible. The intelligence of the two surprised my brother and me. When we told our mother of the violent attacks, which occurred often, she cackled at the thought that these two innocent pets could inflict pain on another creature. She thoroughly disagreed with our counterattacks of rock throwing, and she cursed us with the notion that we would be struck dead by God if we harmed her good-natured and helpless pets. My brother and I took this as cruel and unusual punishment. To aid in our escape, we tried to train our mother's vicious dogs to protect us from her birds, to no avail. After a month of feeding them chicken, we gave up, realizing they were eating better than we were. We had no idea that the worst of the attacks were yet to come.
It was late afternoon on a Saturday, and the sun had not completely gone down. My family had just finished dinner and was relaxing in front of the television. A John Candy movie, The Great Outdoors, was rented, which turned out to be a very appropriate movie, considering the way things were going to unfold that evening. Lyle, my older, yet not necessarily wiser, brother, seemed a little fidgety. In the middle of the action scene, he stood up, tapped me on my shoulder, and signaled me to follow him to our bedroom. I was a bit annoyed and unwilling to go since I was just getting into the plot of the movie, but I decided that it must be pretty important. I followed him back to our bedroom, and he immediately lifted his mattress to unveil a mountain of empty Marlboro cigarette cartons. I couldn't believe that he would reveal to me such an immense stash since I was renowned for ratting on him. I used to tease him that he had more bad habits than Bill Cosby had Pudding Pops. I took this diversion as another one of his ploys to get me hooked on cigarettes.
Lyle explained that he had another stash in the barn about 300 yards away from our house which meant crossing turkey and rooster territory in semi-darkness, a foolish thing to try. Arriving at the rear door to our house, Lyle put me on his shoulders to see out of the window that
was quite a bit above his head. I threatened him that he better not drop me or he was going to be in a world of hurt, even though I wasn't strong enough to live up to the threat. Peering out, I told him that the tag team was nowhere in sight. I took a deep breath and had the privilege of stepping into the danger zone first, Lyle following close behind. We walked back to back, listening for the slightest sounds, though the only sound I could hear was the beating of my heart. The sun had almost gone down, and it was getting harder to see. We arrived at the barbed wire fence and went through, Lyle catching his shirt in three different spots. At this point, I noticed the shirt he was wearing was one of my own. We ran through the field, hoping there were no animals around since it was pitch black. Trees canopied the barn, blocking any chance of the disappearing sunlight reaching it. I urged Lyle to hurry up and open the door. After catching his breath he ran his hand down the door, searching for the handle. He asked me to wait outside while he went in and retrieved the cigarette. While I waited, I found a 2 x 4 on the ground and decided to use it if I came across any trouble. Suddenly, something brushed against my back. Slowly turning my head, I noticed it was just Lyle turning to shut the door. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter, put the cigarette in his mouth, and lit it. At this moment, I felt a cold chill run down my spine. The soft glow from the cigarette revealed the turkey standing only feet from us. His feathers were all ruffled, a sign to us that he was extremely happy or extremely pissed. I didn't think it was the former. Lyle attempted to sprint away and came to a sudden halt. Just beyond him, I could see the rooster in the cigarette's glow of light. As Lyle stared in terror, his mouth fell open and the cigarette fell to the ground and went out. I could hear his screams for help quite clearly, but I had my own problems to worry about.
I could no longer see the turkey, though I could hear it ruffling its feathers. I gripped the 2 x 4 tightly in my hand as a claw stepped on my shoe and tore through the thick material. The turkey's claw was razor sharp, and as it pierced my shoe, it also penetrated my skin. My body began trembling as I thought of the turkey's gargantuan size. Insanity overcame me, and I began swinging the 2 x 4 in all directions hoping to make contact, with no luck. This terrified me even more because I knew the turkey could be anywhere. Gathering my courage, I decided to run until I reached the house. As I took off, so did the bird, and the next thing I knew I was being smashed in the back of the head with its massive wings. I swung the 2 x 4 and this time made contact with the beast. A loud screech cut the night air. I resumed running for the house. The turkey continued to pursue only inches behind. I was afraid I would collide with something, so I stretched out my arms. Then I heard the most terrifying sound of all, as if a herd of elephants were stampeding towards me. I knew they could only be Lyle's size thirteen, hot pink, shredded, blown out, smelly Converse All Stars. It was too late to react; all I could do was brace for the impact that would inevitably come. The first pain I felt was his knee smashing my rib-cage, causing me to lose my breath. Then I felt an excruciating pain pierce through the side of my face as his fist struck my cheek bone. The only thing that saved me from further injury was the cushioning and consumption of my body by his bulging stomach, working as if it were an air bag. My face was engulfed in what I thought were numerous fat rolls, what he referred to as his fuel tank for his love machine, a common fat-boy excuse. I flew through the air for thirty feet. Lyle later claimed he was throwing me from the path of danger. By then, there was not only the turkey on the scene, but also the rooster had joined in. Grabbing my hands, Lyle hoisted me over his shoulder. It was uncommon for Lyle to help me, but I figured that things were different in life or death situations. As Lyle hobbled frantically, the tag team continued to gain on us. Arriving at the fence, he dropped me on my back. We attempted to lunge our bodies through the fence simultaneously. I made it through unscathed and was already on my way to the house when I noticed Lyle wasn't around. Returning I found him entangled in the barbed wire. The relentless rooster and turkey attacks slowed his ability to untangle his clothes, or should I say, my clothes. I assumed that he was probably losing quite a bit of blood and something needed to be done immediately. Taking a moment to gather my senses, I searched for a weapon. The only things I could find were some quartz rocks and horse nuggets, so I proceeded to bombard the raging poultry. This gave Lyle the opportunity he needed to escape. There was an outbreak of profanity when I accidentally hit him with a horse nugget. Freeing himself, he stumbled away. Because the fence stalled their attempts of attack, we had time to get to the house. Slamming the door, I exclaimed, "Now that it's over, we can laugh about it." Lyle wasn't amused with my comment. Our mother applied bandages and made several tourniquets from socks, while we explained our adventure trying to avoid the underlying reason for the journey. We hinted that we had had a sudden urge to polish our horse's saddles, this statement not believed by our parents for a second, but they never pushed the issue. That night my brother and I went to the hospital in Augusta to have our battle scars sewn up.
Nobody was really sure what happened to that old rooster. He just disappeared one day, but I think that the lucky feather that Lyle has taped to the back of his Snapper has something to do with it. But peace was short. The next week Molly persuaded our mother that she needed some Venezuelan attack geese for perimeter security.
There were no animals injured in the making of this story.