While serving my first sentence as a married man I felt the need for that particular fresh air of freedom one can only find in smokey nightclubs in the company of good friends. Though my acquaintance with alcohol at the time was only a nodding one, I was fortunate to become friends with a man to whom alcohol was mother’s milk and home was simply a place to recuperate from painful hangovers and have a shower when nightclubs were closed due to their inherent Dracula like fear of sunlight.
Dean was a drunkard and a gambler who never worked a single day in his life, but possessed so much charm that you could not hold it against him, even if you wanted to. I met him at a friend’s restaurant, where my friend introduced us and it was one of those unusual cases whereby lifelong friendships are formed at first handshake. We hit it off immediately and Dean, shocked at my lack of association with hard liquor, decided to take me under his wing and to educate me, so he soon became one of my three very close and dear friends with whom I would meet almost on a daily basis.
Breakfast was an unknown meal to Dean, as he would get up at around noon every day and go straight to lunch. The occasional generosity of a rich mother made it possible for him to live a life where “breakfast” would always be at restaurants open only for lunch and licensed to serve alcohol.
Think of “bad boys” in novels, think of carefree and careless heroes in films, or in fact, to make it easier, think of Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” but with a smile, and you will have a picture of my friend Dean.
He introduced me to all the nightclubs in our city and everyone who was part of the nightlife, absolutely everyone knew him and through him I got to know the gangsters and gentlemen of the evening. One of the things that ruled him out of serious consideration as an investment banker was his generosity, which ensured that every slimy creature of the night also knew him, as he was always an easy touch for a loan whenever he had money left over from his gambling.
Dean owned a lot of land which he had inherited from his grandfather and pieces of which he would occasionally sell to supplement his gambling expenses; so, influenced by an accidental viewing of “Little House on the Prairie”, he decided to go into raising cattle. His thinking on the matter had a measure of logic, though it was logic not altogether infallible.
Cattle are known to be early risers and require breakfast at around 5 a.m. So, thought Dean, since he usually went home from the nightclubs at around 5 a.m. in any case, he would feed the animals and then go to bed. A perfect arrangement for all concerned, so he built barns and living accommodations at one of his plots of land and imported young steers, by airplane mind you, from the UK.
The weak link in his thinking soon became apparent. Dean would, indeed, go home at 5 a.m. every morning as usual, but the difference was that he was too drunk to feed the animals. The result was that the animals were sold, the barns remained empty and Dean moved back into his town apartment.
However, his huge alcohol powered brain could not resist thinking of ways to utilise the barns, so he decided to buy and raise chicks for the sake of producing free range eggs for sale to discerning families. So he began asking around about who might provide him with the necessary hen chicks to be the scouts or guinea pigs of this new business experiment.
One of the parasites who infested the nightlife was a creature who sold flowers at all the nightclubs and drove around to all clubs in a brand new Mercedes, bought from the proceeds of his flower business. Flowers he stole nightly from local cemeteries and sold to us at princely sums when we were accompanied by ladies whom we wanted to court and impress, so he could certainly afford to buy a luxury car. He assured Dean that he was able to provide the necessary seed to the new business venture and soon supplied 50 tiny little chicks.
In true Dean Fashion, the chicks were taken to the farm and let loose in one of the huge barns, with sacks of food open for easy access and water dispensers strategically placed. He would go about once a week to change the water.
About six months later he came to me with his tragic story. Six months was how long it took for the scales to fall from his eyes and realise that out of the 50 chicks the flower merchant had provided, only one had turned out to be a hen. The other 49 were roosters, eating him out of house and home, without the possibility of ever producing a single egg. And not only that Dean said, they appeared to have turned gay.
We agreed that the extreme sacrifice had to be made and that I should help him in corralling the free-loaders through a scientific roundup and then take them to a local slaughter house and distribute the resulting produce to friends and relatives for purses of gold which were to be used in our nightly outings.
We drove to the farm and even today I shudder at the memory of what met my gaze upon entering the barn. A scene which would have brought a blush to the cheek of the most liberal of critics and which immediately became engraved on my brain ensured that I now knew what Sodom and Gomorrah must have been like.
Consider the scene in a calm and unbiased spirit if you would: Besides a single hen merrily and indifferently pecking away to her heart’s content, 49 Dashing Young Lochinvar rooster fellows appeared to have acquired a preference for “the love whose name is not spoken”, if one might paraphrase Lord Alfred Douglas.
“Let my lusts be my ruin, then, since all else is a fake and a mockery” they appeared to shout in unison, while jumping each other with a persistence and a gay abandon which was incredible to watch. One had the impression that there were not many things which could have diverted their attention from their preoccupation.
I am loath to speak ill of any of God’s creatures and particular of a rooster, one of the symbols of male power, but it is no use trying to conceal the fact from you that these particular specimens had no consideration for one’s sensitive nature. I did not feel at that moment that the world was a fit place for heroes to live in, I can tell you.
It would be idle to deny that the scene was not for the sensitive male gaze and though one could be tolerant of private acts between consenting adults, one could hardly bear the blow of such a public display which certainly precluded any overt gestures of friendship and brotherhood towards the participants.
The De Greeks might be men of a gentle disposing but they also have strong decisive and dominating natures possibly like Leonidas on the day he led the 300 against the Persians, so we wasted no time in beginning to collect the immodest specimens before us.
The idea was to tie two birds together by the legs, thereby rendering them incapable of running all over the place and then to put all of them in Deans truck for the final trip to the slaughter house. We had no thought of offering them a last wish, as we thought they had enough for one day.
We soon realised that we had not brought string with us, essential for the success of our strategy of tying two birds together. We looked around and collected bits and pieces of left over wire and used that to tie their legs together while we went after the next batch of candidates. However, we were not prepared for the power of true love. As soon as we put them down, the birds would flutter around a bit, the wire would come loose and they would immediately jump on each other again while we were chasing our next two contenders all over the place. It was not a speedy operation.
At the cost of sprained ankles, the operation had a satisfactory conclusion (not for the roosters) and the local slaughter place promised to have them ready, clean and packaged for us next day.
It now fell to us to sell our produce so I undertook that role because my sister worked for an airline in the accounting section which I knew was packed with potential clients. I knew all the girls there so I described the story to them and offered the birds for sale to an audience that was laughing at our misadventure and at the roosters’ personal preferences.
One of the girls, to tease me, asked if the birds were safe to consume, since becoming intimate with the birds private affairs through consumption she might also become that way inclined. I assured her that her position was carrying caution too far, but in any case we thought of the possibility and had taken the necessary steps. We are offering a free jar of Vaseline with every rooster.
My thanks to: