The Chicken

When I was about ten years old I found an old table knife in the trash.  I began to play Indian and practiced throwing until I could stick it in the ground almost every time.  I then started to find targets – cans, boxes, etc.–anything I thought the knife would penetrate.  As my skill improved my confidence improved and I became a little cocky.  That’s when the stupid boy came out again.

We lived on a small farm.  We had cows, horses and pigs, but no chickens.  My father hated chickens, but his brother Bud, whose farm joined ours, loved them.  The problem was that he let them run free and sometimes they wandered over to our house.  I’m not sure what came over me, but one afternoon a big, white chicken came within eight feet of me while I was standing on the back porch.  Without thinking, I threw the knife at this innocent chicken and as with the cans and other items, I hit the target.  The knife hit her neck just below her head and she dropped like a sack of flour.

My younger sister, old big mouth, saw the killing blow and couldn’t wait to tell my father.

I’ll never forget the first words that came out of his mouth. “How much money have you saved, son?”

Surprised at the question, I answered, “One dollar and twenty-seven cents.”  At that age you know to the penny how much you have.

With his arms folded across his chest he said, “Go get it and take it to Bud.  Tell him you killed his chicken and ask if that’s enough to pay for it.”

I did as I was told.

Over the years we had made a footpath from our house to Bud’s.  I wouldn’t say I was walking slowly, but as my grandmother used to say, “You needed to drive up a stake to see if he was moving.”  I was about a hundred yards from Bud’s house when I was shocked to see my dead chicken come running into his yard.  I could see a blood stain on her neck, but otherwise, she looked healthy.  I turned and set a record on getting from Bud’s house to ours.

Dad saw me coming.  He asked, “What did he say?”

I was so excited it was all I could do to talk.  I finally conveyed to Daddy that the chicken was okay and had beaten me back to Bud’s.

Going back to his normal stern stance, he asked the legendary question, “Did you learn anything?”

“Yes.  Leave Bud’s chickens alone.”

As I think back over my life, this was my first lesson in cause and effect.  Over the years I’ve had many chicken flashbacks when I start to react before thinking first.  Remembering that chicken playing possum saved me from many future embarrassments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

R.J. Patterson

R.J. Patterson

Raland J. Patterson earned his MBA with an emphasis in finance from National University. For the past 18 years he worked as a financial planner.

The last six were spent as Regional Vice-President in Europe, responsible for 20 different offices located in seven countries. He served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot from 1970-1971 with the First Cavalry Division.

When he retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel, he had logged 22 years of active duty. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star with One Oak Leaf Cluster, and 14 air medals, among other awards.

After travelling extensively, he now lives in his hometown of Blue Ridge, Georgia. He brings an insiders knowledge of detailed military protocol and experience along with small town American values.

Get in touch…
rjpattersonbooks@msn.com or 706-258-3438
Subscribe to RSS Feed

Add RJ Patterson Books to your RSS Feed:

Sugar Creek
Click here to purchase Sugar Creek today!

Traditions run as deeply in the North Georgia Mountains as the roots of the massive, old oaks growing in the area.
Families like the Barkleys on Sugar Creek, lived and worked together in order to survive the hardships of the thirties and forties.

Bear Cat
Click here to purchase Bear Cat today!

In route to Vietnam in the summer of 1970, Captain Johnny McKay kept hearing his father’s words in his head, Make them a good soldier, son.
Every soldier onboard that flight had one goal in common – come back alive.

Hogback
Click here to purchase Hogback today!

Hogback is a suspense novel, which explores the age-old dilemma of good versus evil.
As a teenager, Jim Coleman, found himself in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Upon his release he sets off on a trail of vengeance that leads him through small Georgia towns with a mounting body count in his wake.

Hoverdown
Click here to purchase Hoverdown today!

Hoverdown is a revenge-driven thriller tracking the lives of three men.
Beginning in Vietnam, a skilled helicopter pilot, Bill Dant, foolishly accepts an opportunity to deal drugs to his fellow soldiers. Platoon leader Captain Sam Wright is instrumental in sending him to prison.

Talking Rock
Click here to purchase Talking Rock today!

Legs, a thirty-something single mother, has had enough of entitled rich men using her for their own purposes.
To match her hot body, she creates a confident, in-charge alter ego determined to turn the tables and exploit them.

Silver Bullets
Click here to purchase Silver Bullets for Managers today!

For me, managing awesome teams was both rewarding and exciting.
I learned early on that great managers take care of their team members; they do the right things for the right reasons. By helping team members focus on the same vision, they will begin to feel as if they’re playing a championship game every day.

The Ledger
Click here to purchase The Ledger today!

Throughout a grueling, extended tour in the jungles of Vietnam, Captain Dean Crosby lived for the adrenaline rush.
A born loner, Crosby recorded each mission into a ledger, ranking missions based on the difficulty and the high he felt afterwards. The sum of his emotional life rested between the leather-covered pages of The Ledger.