stunt cock

i was in
a little town
a nameless
little stain
on the roadmap
the gaslight
had been on
for the last
twenty miles
my legs were
squeezed tight
as my bladder
screamed out
for relief

i pulled into
the gas station
started to pump
the gas and then
did a fast walk
inside the store
a sign declared
the best fried pie
in the state
but all i could
think about
was the filthy
men’s room down
the hall with a
lightbulb swaying
on a string

the graffiti
drawn in permanent
marker on the stall
said good times
could be had
at the number below
but a flier hanging
behind the urinal
with scotch tape
caught my attention

rhode island red
daredevil
this weekend only

i finished
my business
shook to a fair
transaction
washed my hands
grabbed one of
the notorious
best fried pies
in the state
and made my way
to the counter

there is something
about small town
ladies with dreams
of one day fleeing
the small towns
that only ever seem
like prisons
until you finally
manage an escape
an excitable
homespun beauty
that makes a man
consider leaving
a life on the road

just passing through
she asked
boredom cast upon
a syrupy accent

we made small talk
about rural life
as she rang up
a buttermilk pie
some fresh jerky
and two bottles
of fancy sounding
overpriced water
her boredom seemed
to evaporate as i
told her about my
travels across the
asphalt scars that
carve their way
over the countryside
before i got around
to asking about
the daredevil

she blushed
an already pretty
face brightening
as she said it was
just a silly old
locals thing
that happens
once or twice
every single summer

maybe it was her
deep brown eyes
or the easy smile
and excitement
at hearing about
the world outside
that infected me
made me blurt out
half joking
half flirtatious
that maybe she
could take me
to see the show

maybe it was my
pure curiosity
or our easy banter
that made her smile
even bigger in a way
and to my surprise
and possible chagrin
she agreed
and so i found myself
checking in at the
fleabag motel right
at the edge of town
waiting for her
to get off work
and take me
to the show

i watched
out the window
as the two light town
puttered on
through another
sleepy day
far removed from
the hustle and bustle
of the big city
pick up trucks
and casual waves
everything moving
at half speed
through the streaked
motel glass
as she pulled up
a big smile
short shorts
and legs that stretched
from terra firma
all the way up
to paradise itself
before telling me
it was nearly time
for the show

she drove us
down winding gravel
roads with a cloud
of chalky dust
whipping up
behind us
as she told me
about the place
her daddy
and his daddy
and his daddy
and so on
and so forth
for so many
generations
has been born
and eventually
had been buried
i found myself
hanging on every
elongated syllable
watching the land
go by outside
and thinking about
how her lips
would feel pressed
against my own
as we pulled up
to a barn
surrounded by
trucks and empty
cans of budweiser

we hopped out
and she excitedly
grabbed my hand
pulling me along
behind her
as we entered
the rickety
formerly crimson
painted building
all eyes turned
towards us as we
approached the crowd
standing around
bales of hay
set up in what looked
to be some
sort of track

i leaned over
and asked her
what was going on
confused at the scale
and unable to suss
the possible use
she smiled
squeezed the hand
still entwined
with her dainty one
and said
you’re about to see
the most famous cock
in three counties
as the crowd murmured
excitement built
and i wondered if
maybe i had made
a horrible mistake

a man in overalls
with three teeth
and a face made
of weathered leather
stepped forward
ladies and gentlemen
his voice oozed
are y’all ready
for the evening’s
festivities

a small roar
filled the barn
and i found myself
yelling with them
caught up in
this unusual spectacle
he raised up
his nicotine stained
hands for silence
and an engine
crackled to life
somewhere in the back
she looked at me
wide eyed with a
smile that melted
me to the core

now i don’t know
what it was i had
expected to see
as the engine whined
and grew closer
but a rooster
in an evel knievel
jumpsuit riding
a mini-motorcycle
was not within
the first fifteen
dozen or so
possibilities
but i watched
enthralled at this
daredevil chicken
racing between the bales
jumping plywood ramps
as the final countdown
or a bluegrass version
blared through the barn
rhode island red
sped through the hay
through a loop-di-loop
and finally
after a dizzying array
of trick riding
and death defying turns
the three toothed man
went out and
pulled up a tarp
showing the largest
jump of the evening
a row of toy buses
eighteen he announced
as he flicked a
blue bic lighter
setting them ablaze

she squeezed my hand
even tighter
and i wanted nothing
more than to always
feel her fingers
wrapped in mine
as the rooster
sat on his bike
nodding his beak
towards the pyre
the crowd was hushed
electricity sparked
as anticipation grew
with every engine rev
and as we watched
that goddamned
flightless bird
flew with the grace
of a hawk up and over
all eighteen toy buses
to the excitement
of all of us watching
the roar shook the walls
of the dusty barn
as the wheels
landed just clear
of the flickering flames
and she grabbed me
by the cheeks
pulled me down
and kissed me
like i had never
been kissed before

i never managed
to quite leave
that little town
in the middle of
absolutely nowhere
for very long
always finding
a reason to return
before finally
settling down with
for her lips
and fried pies
while twice a year
she and i and our
growing family
head out to the barn
to watch the show
as rhode island red
the greatest of all
dazzles the town
with true daredevilry

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