Back when I was doing cocaine, we found a chicken in our yard. We weren’t sure how it got there, but it wouldn’t leave. My wife made me take a broom outside to try to scare it away.
“It’s just a chicken,” I said.
“You’re a chicken,” she said.
I didn’t want to scare it, but I took the broom outside anyway. The chicken stepped away from me as I approached. The chicken looked at me vigilant, sidelong.
“Be a good chicken,” I said.
I was wearing my pajama pants and slippers. A car drove by slowly and I tried not to look odd.
I went back inside and found my wife who said, “You didn’t scare it away?”
“That chicken is here for a reason,” I told her.
My wife said, “What’s wrong with you? Are you drunk or something?”
“The chicken will lay eggs,” I said. “This is good. It’s a sign or good omen. We shouldn’t scare the chicken, we should keep it.”
“Are you afraid of that chicken?” she said. “Is that what you’re afraid of? What are you afraid of?”
I turned and hurried upstairs to the bathroom and locked the door. I did a line of cocaine and looked at myself in the mirror. My face was pale and weary. The sunlight on my face looked like shards of glass. I sat on the floor with my back against the wall and waited for my wife to come and overawe me.
Brandon Hobson has won a Pushcart Prize and is the author of Deep Ellum (Calamari) and Desolation of Avenues Untold (CCM). His next novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking, is due out next year from Soho Press.
*this story was previously published in NOON (2017)