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Final Story: The Chicken Coop

“Tonight’s a special night. Marv, why don’tchya git a chicken fer supper?” Uncle Clyde leaned back in his chair, muttering between sips of gin. Marvin, a scrawny boy of approximately 5 feet 7 inches, stared blankly out the backdoor. He looked over the cracked land, wind howling through the lonesome fields. Not much had grown the past year, not unlike the year before that. Some folks were forced to leave their homes, and went looking for work in the city. Many went hungry. “The crops ain’t bin doin’ well. But Uncle Clyde a’ways find a way to keep our bellies fill’d” Marvin thought to himself. “He evun got enuff to fill his drink ev’ry day.” His ruminations were cut short by Uncle Clyde, “Git movin’ boy! Yer jes ‘bout to make me lose my temper with yer dawdlin’!” Marvin touched the bruise under his left eye. He paused. He grabbed the hatchet hanging on the wall next to the door, exited, and made his way for the coop.

Marvin gazed wistfully into the clouds above as he trekked to the coop. It was on the other end of the farm, where the other livestock resided. In these hard times, however, all their sheep and hogs had died. All that was left were a few skinny chickens that Uncle Clyde had been keeping alive. Marvin lowered his head. He looked at the ground to his right. Jeb, a smelly old hound, used to accompany him on these walks to the coop. Marvin never really paid much attention to Jeb, it was his Uncle’s dog after all. They’d walk in silence, and after the slaughter was done he’d feed old Jeb the chicken heads. Marvin would head back to the house and Jeb would stay behind, enjoying his reward. A few months back Jeb crawled under the house and died. Marvin was made to go fish him out before the smell started coming through the floor boards. The walk to the coop seemed extra quiet today.

Marvin opened the roof of the small coop. Two chickens were nervously clucking in a corner, a third lie dead. Marvin stared at the tiny corpse. Flies were frantically buzzing around its body, landing periodically for a snack. Suddenly the stench hit his nose, he recoiled slightly. Marvin quickly grabbed the fatter of the two remaining birds by the neck and closed the roof of the coop. As he made his way to the stump he thought, “Th’ other hen’s lookin’ thin. She ain’t got much longer.” Marvin placed the chicken on the wooden log. The heat of the day turned the dried blood encrusting it into a thick, sticky syrup. Marvin raised the hatchet above his head. It took four whacks to complete the process, three to lop off the head, one more because he missed. The bird carcass wriggled in his hands, exerting its last ounce of post-mortem strength. “Stupid” he thought, “it dead already.” Marvin picked up the severed head and for a moment looked behind him as if expecting something to be there. He quickly spun back around, and tossed the head into a patch of shrubs by the empty animal pens.

On the walk back the familiar sound of the rapid winds returned. Marvin knew they never truly left, but he had only started hearing them now. He felt as if his mind were racing, but when he attempted to focus on what he was thinking of, his mind turned up blank. His eyes followed the dry ground until a fork in the path filled his vision. He stopped. Marvin stood pondering for a moment. He then turned and went down the perpendicular path. It was a long trail, he had walked it many times.

Marvin arrived at the end of the path. Under the shade of an oak tree, two gravestones stood parallel to each other. The same big block letters were chiseled into both of them, R I P. Other than these simple engravings, the gravestones were bare. Marvin looked over the slabs of granite, they were all that was left of his parents. He collapsed to his knees, and hanging his head, he mumbled inaudible prayers for his deceased mother and father. Marvin’s parents passed away five years ago, when he was but seven years old. A crop fire had lost control and spread throughout the county. They were both working the fields when it caught up to them. Marvin repeated the Lord’s Prayer ten times as it was the only one he had learned in church. He wasn’t entirely sure what the words meant, but he knew it would help their spirits rest easy. He stood up. Chicken blood spurted from the neck of the dead bird and landed on the burial site. Marvin looked towards the sun. It had been at least an hour since he left the house. Uncle Clyde wasn’t a very forgiving man. Marvin burst into a sprint, arms flailing, blood spraying all over his clothes. He ran like lightning, as if it would somehow diminish his inevitable punishment. “Stupid” he thought to himself.

Marvin burst through the backdoor, panting from exhaustion. His hand was soaked with chicken blood. He stood hunched over, gasping for breath. It took him a good minute to recover from his sudden exertion of energy. Marvin’s ears perked up. Uncle Clyde. Things were unusually quiet in the house.

things were unusually quiet

Marvin carefully placed the hatchet back on the hook and creeped around the corner into the den. He peered into the dark and musty room. Empty. A loud snore from the brown recliner startled him. Uncle Clyde’s lifeless mass had blended in with the furniture. Marvin breathed a sigh of relief. He laid the strangled bird on the kitchen counter and started a pot to boil.

Marvin watched Uncle Clyde tear through a piece of chicken breast. A dim lantern sat between them as they ate. Marvin nibbled what little meat there was left. He was still hungry. Uncle Clyde had already claimed the last slice of breast for himself. Marvin looked down at his plate. “Chickun” he thought “most folk don’t evun have chicken.” He was grateful that Uncle Clyde could still provide for both of them in these difficult times, if for nothing else. Even though it seemed to him that they pulled in the same harvest as most others in the area, Uncle Clyde managed to make back enough money to last them the season. Uncle Clyde went to the city a lot nowadays. About twice a month. It was a good sixty miles away. When he’d go he’d be gone for two, three, sometimes four days at a time. Uncle Clyde used to live in the city. Before he inherited the farm, he’d occasionally come down and bring sweets and small toys with him. That was a long time ago, when times were better. When Marvin’s parents were still alive. A sputtering cough brought Marvin back to reality. He looked up from his plate. Uncle Clyde coughed and wheezed. He brought his hands up around his neck. He was choking. Marvin sat paralyzed for a few moments as he watched Uncle Clyde hack and cough. Their eyes met. Uncle Clyde beamed a look of urgency at Marvin. He didn’t move. Uncle Clyde’s look turned into one of blearing anger. Marvin gripped the arms of his chair. Uncle Clyde tore his eyes away from him. He wriggled in his seat, trying in vain to dislodge the piece of food trapped in his gullet. His face turned blue. A bead of sweat ran down Marvin’s face; he tightened his grip. Uncle Clyde shot Marvin one last glance. Desperation filled his eyes. Marvin snapped out of his trance and in automatic movements he jumped out of his chair and ran behind Uncle Clyde’s twitching carcass. Panic struck Marvin. What was he supposed to do? Seconds felt like an eternity. Uncle Clyde was fading, his eyes started to roll back into his head. Marvin pulled back and smacked Uncle Clyde in the back of the head. Not hard enough. He pulled back again. SMACK. Uncle Clyde sputtered some more but nothing came out. With all his might Marvin pulled back a third time. At the peak of his swing Marvin hesitated. He looked down at Uncle Clyde, struggling for air, grasping for invisible objects. Marvin brought his hand down and made contact with the back of Uncle Clyde’s head. A chicken bone shot across the table and landed on the dusty floorboards. Uncle Clyde collapsed onto all fours, gasping for breath. Marvin fell back into the old recliner. He breathed a sigh of relief and wiped the sweat off his brow. He closed his eyes. A sharp pain stung the back of his head. He opened his eyes slowly. Another surge of pain, this one far stronger. Marvin fell to the ground in silence. He touched the back of his head. Wet. Two more blows hit Marvin on his spine and the top of his head. His vision went blurry. He could hear Uncle Clyde grumble something. Marvin’s arms gave out and he fell to his side. The pain was intense. He could see the vague outline of Uncle Clyde’s boots as he strode in front of him. Uncle Clyde leaned a bloody cane against the wall and walked into his bedroom.

marvin floor

“Werthless sunnova bitch.” The bedroom door slammed shut. Marvin blacked out.

marvin black out

END OF PART ONE.

I Wrote a lot more to this story but this felt like the most logical place to end it for now. I’m deeply engrossed and will be finishing it so if you like it please look forward for future updates. :)

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