Luz Lanch de Bairacli Levy


The Silver Fox and other Stories
A collection of
 short stories

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy


daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
Published online by Ash Tree Publishing


A Chicken from Heaven
by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007


The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents


“My dog has been accused again!” I told Stratos, letting out a long sigh.

“What this time?” he asked, amused, placing his white porcelain coffee cup on the table.

“Killing all my neighbor’s chickens.”

“That is normal in Greece,” stated a fair-haired man whom I had never seen before. He came over and sat at our table.

“What do you mean?"

“Well, you see, I have a dog too, a big dog. He is frequently wrongly accused, even though he never looks at the chickens,” the stranger replied.

“And what do you do about those accusations?”

He reclined back in his chair and smiled mischievously, his light-brown eyes filled with laughter. “In the village where I live an old woman keeps chickens in a derelict shed near my house. Every morning around the same time, I see her walking up the road, carrying a cotton bag in one hand, and a metal bucket in the other. She stops before the low wooden gate, and calls to her chickens, ‘Coo, coo, coo.’ They come running, then she puts down the bucket and cotton bag, leans over the gate, stretches out her right arm and in slow motion she begins to count the chickens. I follow the movements of her arm and count along with her. ‘One, two, three . . . sixteen.’ Sixteen chickens. The counting now ended, she opens the gate, carefully enters the enclosure to attend to the chickens, changing their water and throwing handfuls of dry corn on the ground. An hour later she heads back down the road, carrying in the bucket the eggs she collected that day.

“One morning I met her on the road. I greeted her in a friendly manner.

“‘That dog of yours has been troubling my chickens!’ she squealed in a high-pitched voice, standing very close to me.

“‘He is a good dog,’ I replied calmly. ‘He will never trouble your chickens.’

“‘Don’t tell me that!’ she shrieked.

“‘Have any of your chickens been harmed? Are there any missing?’

“‘No.’

“‘So, what do you want?’

“‘Nothing. Just make sure that your dog will not trouble my chickens!’ she warned me, then shuffled on her way.

“One early morning about a week later, I was still in my bed when there was a knock on my front door. My musician friend Asklepios, in an agitated state, stood on the threshold. In one hand he held his precious violin, in the other a live white chicken. Well, rather, an unconscious chicken. You see, being a violinist, not a farmer, he had no idea how to hold the poor creature. He held it by its neck, with its feet dangling in the air.

“‘Asklepios! What’s this?’ I managed to say, finally accepting this unusual sight.

“‘I brought you a present.’ He handed me the chicken, not the violin!”

The stranger gave a little chuckle and glanced at me, to see if I was amused too. Now that he had my attention he continued with even more gusto.

“I held out my hand to accept the gift. The poor animal looked at me gloss-eyed, then fell back into its previous state. I was totally at a loss, having no idea what to do with the live chicken he presented to me. I held the frightened creature in my hand, trying to imagine what to do with it. The safest place for now seemed to be the bathroom. We went over to the little bathroom. I carefully closed the small window. Holding the chicken in one hand, I then placed the petrified bird down on the floor and walked out quickly, gingerly closing the door behind me.

“Asklepios and I sat in the coolness of the early morning hours. I had made us coffee, and now I was curious to hear the origin of my unusual gift. Asklepios’ eyes were shining. He was still excited.

“‘There was a large truck on the ferryboat filled with live chickens,’ he began. ‘It was an awful sight! It was terrible! All those chickens crammed into small cages. The sea was rough, the cages swayed back and forth. It was cruel!’

“I believed I saw tears in my friend’s blue eyes.

“‘So, I thought,’ he continued his story, ‘Well, you see, you said you wanted to start a farm, and one chicken is a beginning, and the sight of those cages. . .’ He seemed embarrassed for letting his sensitive nature show.

“‘Yes, one chicken is a beginning,’ I agreed. My mind was constantly searching for a solution of what to do with the chicken that now occupied my bathroom.

“Asklepios stood up very suddenly. From the look on his face, I knew where he was heading to.

“‘You cannot go there!’ I said.

“‘Why not?’ He seemed astonished.

“‘It is occupied.’

“‘Oh, I see,’ he said. A perplexed look came over his face, maybe imagining the blonde beauty who was about to emerge from there any minute.

“‘The chicken is there,’ I told him, to set his mind at ease.

“‘Yes, of course, I forgot,’ he responded, laughing. So, he went out to the field behind the house.

“Meanwhile I was still thinking about that chicken. To kill it was out of the question. In the first place, I could never bring myself to do that. Even the flies — I ask their gods for forgiveness before swatting them. How could I kill a fully grown white chicken?! Suddenly an idea came to me. I could place it amongst my neighbor’s chickens! A chicken it is. The same language they surely speak. Yes! And luckily my neighbor’s chickens were all white.

“I opened the bathroom door: the entire place was soiled with white fluff and feathers. The terrified bird had been flapping and flailing about in a desperate attempt to escape. Now it sat exhausted in the bathtub, surrounded by a cloud of feathers and soft white fluff. I bent down, picked it up. Holding it gently in my arms, I walked quickly down the lane to my neighbor’s chicken shed.
“Opening the wooden gate, I put the chicken down gently. Then I backed out cautiously, quickly closing the gate. For a moment I stood by the gate to see how the alien was received. It appeared to be a warm welcome. I then hurried away, as it was near the time of the morning count and feed.

“I sat on my front porch to view the outcome. Soon enough, there my neighbor was, walking down the road, carrying the usual bag and bucket. She reached the wooden gate, placed the bucket down attentively, then called to the chickens, ‘Coo, coo, coo.’ She stretched out her right arm and began the daily count in her usual slow heavy motions. I was counting along with her. ‘. . . fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.’ And the count began again. At the fourth time, I could see she had become distressed. I went down the lane towards her. When she spotted me, she signaled to me to come close.

“‘I don’t understand.’ Her face had a look of pure bewilderment. ‘Count the chickens, count them!’
This was certainly more a command than a request. So, in the same slow, heavy motions I have seen her do so frequently, I counted them.

“‘Seventeen.’ I couldn’t help smiling.

“‘Seventeen? Not possible. I have only sixteen.’ I could see she was annoyed.

“We recounted the chickens together. Definitely seventeen.

“‘This is strange,’ she muttered suspiciously. She seemed to be at a total loss. ‘To have one missing, I understand. But an extra one?’ she told me fearfully. ‘How? From where?’ she demanded in a whisper. I could see she was dismayed and confused now.

“‘From heaven,’ I replied calmly. ‘A chicken from heaven.’

“She gave me an anxious, almost odd, glance. Nevertheless she accepted it humbly.

“After that, I was told she was seen frequently at the village church making offerings of olive oil and flowers, and lighting candles regularly. She has become religious, I was told.”

He became silent, estimating the effect of his narrative on Stratos and myself. Then he looked at me and said, “That is what I did about that false accusation.”

“One isn’t always so fortunate to score so smoothly,” I remarked.

 

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007
for reprint permission, contact Ash Tree Publishing
PO Box 64 Woodstock NY 12498
or write to: wisewoman@herbshealing.com


Click here for more stories by Luz, daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy
The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents

 



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