The Chicken on Avenue L

What are your chances of walking down Avenue L? Well, what are your chances of walking down Avenue L and seeing a chicken on the sidewalk? A live chicken? Yes, that’s what I thought too, until last Saturday.

The chicken, when I first saw her in the middle of the sidewalk. I was on a photographic expedition in East Side and had just reached 102nd Street and Avenue L when I saw a big brown ball in the middle of the sidewalk. I thought it was a plastic bag being blown by the wind. But its movements were purposeful, and I realized that it was a Rhode Island Red. I pulled out my camera and started shooting.

A little girl of 8 or 9 came up to me and asked, “Are you taking a picture of my chicken?”

“Oh, is that your chicken?”

The chicken is staring at something on the sidewalk.  Do we have a cannibal on our hands? “Yeah, we got it....” She was speaking too fast for me to catch it all, but it was about the whys and wherefores of the purchase of that particular chicken. Then she exclaimed, “Look! It’s eating a dead mouse!” The chicken was pecking at something.

The girl’s mother came to the door. “Is it hot out here!”

“The chicken’s eating a dead mouse!” the girl yelled.

I felt I ought to put a positive spin on the situation. “That’s probably better than what they feed them at chicken farms.”

The chicken back in her yard.  She's the queen of all she surveys. The mother stared at the chicken for a few moments. Then she finally said, “It’s not a dead mouse — it’s a dead bird.”

I couldn’t help myself. “Cannibal!” I had been taking pictures all during this exchange. I put the camera away and told the girl cheerfully, “Nice chicken you’ve got there!”

You never know what you’re going to see on Avenue L.