Wednesday, February 22, 2006

chicken ship

I didn't know you could mail a chicken.

Today, I went to the post office to mail you your photos of David. For that matter, I mailed you my photo as well, since Jaime did the dividing while I was at work and didn't leave me any. I waited in line behind a Latina with two young girls. After she walked away I notice some of the postal employees peering curiously into her parcel. It was a tall, rectangular box with a pointed top, like the nave of an English-Gothic church, but with round air holes in it. But this was no ship for the human soul (which is against postal regulations), this was a poultry parcel. I asked where it was headed. She was shipping it to Arkansas.

I have spent the rest of the night wondering why a Latino mother would ship a chicken to Arkansas. I know that there is, or at least was, a school there for training people to train chickens to do tricks as a way to provide practical skills in the application of B.F. Skinner's "Operant Conditioning" in animal training. Was she a student turning homework?

Did she have a dark past involving a chicken farmer?

Was it a threat? A gift? Redemption? Perhaps she was once a migrant laborer on a poor farm in Arkansas who once stole a chicken from her employer. Later, she came to know him better, even to love him when he helped her get a leg up in society. Now that she is stable and secure, she is returning his chicken. Or better yet--they had an affair and he gave her the chicken but refused to leave his wife. Bitter, she is returning the gift--but with a little extra added. You see their relationship developed when he capitalized on her illegal status to force her into assisting with drug smuggling from SE Asia. He abandoned their relationship, and refused to leave his wife when he suspected her of being in love with one of the dealers from Rangoon. In revenge she persuaded that dealer to send her this chicken, which is infected with bird flu. What she doesn't know is that her girls secretly opened the box to pet the bird and will be the first victims of her wrath.

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