When I left home to find fame and fortune after college I ended up sharing a foldout bed with my buddy Jared for eight months in an apartment in the remote area of Brooklyn known as Flatlands. The building was a house owned by the father of Dave, one of the residents, and his dad had no clue whatsoever that there were two tenants living there other than his son and the legitimate roommates, John and Eddie. In fact, when Dave mentioned in passing to his dad that a big Black guy was living on the couch, his father said something to the effect of, “Yeah, sure there is. Whaddaya take me for, a schmuck?” Anyway, the five of us lived the swingin’ bachelor life in all its squalid glory, and our existence was enriched by the presence of Dave’s pet bird, a sweet little parakeet named Chicken, or rather he was known as Chicken until Eddie re-dubbed him “Chicken Slave” in honor of lurid gay porn novels with titles along the lines of TEA ROOM CHICKEN SLAVE and CHICKEN SLAVE RIDES A COCKED THUMB.
This teeny bird was an upstanding example of domesticated aviform life, and his cute little songs brightened up the day. We’d often let him out of his cage so he could fly about the flat and get some exercise, but sometimes he would aggressively resist being returned to his gilded enclosure and would zoom around the place like a kamikaze pilot on Benzedrine. There was one such incident when it fell upon me to apprehend him and the little sod eluded my lumbering ass with ease for nearly a half hour, and then I hit upon the brilliant idea of using a deep saucepot to try and scoop him out of the air. After another twenty minutes of interpretive dancing over furniture and bouncing off of walls, the proper angle presented itself and Chicken Slave flew straight into the saucepan with a loud “THUNK!” As loose feathers festooned the dining room, it resembled what I’d imagine a goose down pillow would like after somebody tossed a lit M-80 into it. I reached into the pot and grabbed Chicken Slave — who was quite unharmed, just stunned — and as I put him back into his cage I could have sworn I heard a heard a chirpy little voice say in fluent Brooklynese, “What the fuck just happened?”
My roommates and I soon realized what a bad idea letting the bird fly around was when Eddie decided to include Chicken Slave in his maniacal idea of “playtime.” You see, Eddie has a restless mind, much like that of a bored eight-year-old, and he will create fun for himself out of whatever materials are at hand, and to Hell with the laws of God or man.
For example, there was the game of “Chicken in a pillowcase,” wherein Eddie would grab Chicken Slave (who was innocently minding his own business, reading his latest issue of KERRANG) and drop him into a pillowcase. After a few moments of loudly chirped protest, Eddie would lower the opening of the pillowcase so Chicken Slave could see a way out, and as he would gear up to escape Eddie would close the pillowcase again. So it would go until Eddie got bored, or until Dave yelled at him and rescued his pet.
A variation on “Chicken in a pillowcase” was “Chicken in the coffee table,” in which Eddie would place Chicken Slave inside a shelf in the living room’s hideous coffee table and close the shelf door. This door had a latticework front that Chicken Slave could actually fit through, but when he tried to get out Eddie would block his exit with his hand. Again, this would go on until he got bored or the bird got rescued.
But Chicken Slave’s day-to-day grind was not all fiendish James Bondian death traps; John smoked heavily back in those days, and as a consequence his brown fingers reeked of nicotine, a smell that apparently gives parakeets the Horn, and when Chicken Slave would perch on John’s hand he would catch a whiff and then he’d start to fuck John’s finger. His tiny talons would anchor his violently convulsing body, and after about a minute of Herculean effort he’d cum (spelled this way because it’s dirtier) all over John’s hand, an act that never failed to crack John up. Needless to say, that bird was fiercely loyal to John.
Yet such moments of innocent dalliance were short-lived, thanks to Eddie inventing a new game to play, namely “WWII Fighter Pilot.” For this diversion Eddie would assume the persona of a fighter plane, arms outstretched to simulate wings, voicing the sound effect “Nyeeeeeeeeeooooooow” and slowly circling the apartment in search of aircraft that encroached on his territory. In other words, Chicken Slave.
“WWII Fighter Pilot” was by far the least oppressive of Eddie’s scenarios, having no actual physical contact with the parakeet and actually allowing Chicken Slave to practice his flight skills in both senses of the word, so Eddie would run around like a noisy idiot and the bird would evade him. That was all well and good until the day when somebody left the kitchen window open and Eddie chased Chicken Slave right out into the friendly skies of Flatlands, never to be seen again. Legend has it that as the wee budgie fucked off toward the unknown, a small, chirpy voice was heard to exclaim, “Oh, fuck this shit! I’m outta here!”
I just hope he wasn’t eaten by a red-tailed hawk, or one of our obnoxious neighbors.