Pecker was a prize from the shooting gallery at the traveling funfair, a batshit rooster that roosted in the apple tree in our yard. Pecker had the look of the just-saved, and his neck-wrung feathers, sparse, spiked, seeming wet, suited the bird’s mean disposition. He was hardly a prize – more likely a giveaway at the bucket-ball stall before the carnival folk moved on. Someone must have taken the rooster for a hen and expected fresh eggs when the rooster wasn’t even good at rooster things. He crowed at night and woke our mother – woke us, too. Wait for the sun, you pecker! If only he were good eating, our father said, but Pecker would have tasted foul – ha, ha. Our father, the joker, said Pecker was good for a laugh. That Pecker. His comb looked chawed and his red eyes mad. Try to cross the yard – our backyard – and he would flap down and scuttle after and peck at our legs and our feet. And it hurt – he picked our little sister’s laces loose and made her cry.
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‘A wizened spring, the sickly prickly pear and organ pipe cacti were so riddled with holes they might have been targets.’
The Duchess of Albany
‘The permanence of his absence is a noise she hears when she listens to how quiet.’
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