What The Cluck?

Something happened at the local bazaar the other day. While doing my daily produce shopping I found myself in perhaps the most helpless and intriguing situation I've been in thus far here in Ukraine. It began with a bump and ended with a thud. Someone had elbowed me in my backside. A mistake, more than likely. People squeeze into the narrow paths of the markets on their way to and from the many kiosks like wriggly little fish would if you were to put them all in the same bowl.

The jab to my spine didn't hurt, but it startled me enough to take a look. I turned. No one was there. Well, no one in particular. I would have stayed facing that way, possibly moving on across the way to another kiosk had it not been for my wrist being grabbed.

"Help, please," a man said to me. Before I could respond he'd pulled me over to a table a few feet away. With his other hand he handed me a chicken and instructed me what to do with it. "Hold it like this," he said, placing my hands around its upper abdominal area and around the wings.

Thoughts of what would happen next were zipping through my mind, little fleeting notions about my role in this mysterious favor. When I looked up the man turned back around, facing me, with a cleaver in his hand. Before I could utter even a word he brought the clever down on the neck of the chicken. I didn't make a sound, but stood there holding the body until it stopped moving.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.