(To my grammar-Nazi Mom, who is probably the first one to read this: Yes, I know it should be ‘The chicken and I in a very small bathroom.’ But I’m not going to phrase it that way, because – well, it sounds kind of perverted. That’s probably just me.)
When I chased Henrietta into the tiny shower bath, I was sure her roaming was over. How could something that weighed less than three pounds escape a person with a five-foot reach (measure fingertip to fingertip) in a space where no dimension exceeded that length?
The bathroom was roughly T-shaped, with a toilet at the bottom of the T and a vanity washbasin facing a minimum shower on either side of the door. Henrietta perched on the hand-towel ring. I made a grab for her. She took off, leaving me with only a few feathers and a liquid deposit to signify her emotional state.
By now I was regretting my impulse to do a show-and-tell, especially as I remembered where the kid’s Mom was: that morning Frigga had a hearing scheduled with Child Protective Services to do the necessary red tape required by the difficult and complicated circumstances which brought her to our home. Another day would probably be better for all concerned, so I decided that as soon as I had her caught, Henrietta was going straight out to Randy.
Poor Henrietta, mistrustful of my intentions, decided that her best bet was to hunker in the tiny space under the toilet. I knelt down in front of the loo, and, assuming pretty much the same position as if I were going to use it to throw up in (but the lid was closed, you understand, so it wasn’t a gross as you’re thinking) I reached around with a hand on either side, thinking to trap her gently.
Wow. Bantams can PECK! The nasty rotten little dust-mop ATTACKED me! I withdrew to lick my wounds while Henrietta sharpened her beak.
This would not do. I had to get her out from under there so I could throw the towel around her – I’d have to wash it anyway – and safely transport her back to the carton, and the egg be damned. It seemed that an even smaller space would be a good idea, so I opened the door of the 3-foot-square shower in readiness for my next gambit.
But how to get her there? I bethought myself of the toilet plunger we kept in the vanity cabinet against the insertion of Legos and similar foreign objects into the plumbing. In a trice I had the thing out and was bearing down on my adversary from the vanity side. Sure enough, she squirted out from under the toilet.
I brandished my rubbery weapon, thrusting and parrying with dexterity and skill until the chicken retreated to the shower stall. Then I shoved the plunger handle into my back waistband, in case I needed it again, snatched the towel and jumped after her, closing the glass door behind me.
Now it was just me and the chicken, and she had nowhere to go. So I dropped the towel on her and leaned over to gather her up.
She shot out from under the cloth and bounded into the air. I straightened up and, towel in both outstretched hands, tried to clap it over her, spinning to follow the feathered rocket that was zooming around the stall, sometimes at knee-height, sometimes rising to my shoulders, and once zipping between my feet.
I am not given to profanity, preferring accurate descriptive language. But I confess that in this case adjectives failed me and I resorted to a few choice terms from the gutter.
And then, when I almost had her between my knees, Henrietta gave one last leap into the air. I raised my towel-covered hands with her, and my elbow knocked into the handle of the shower, turning it on full-bore.
It took me a couple of shocked seconds to get the thing off—enough to be completely soaked down the left side of my body, although the right was still nicely dry. Henrietta got the full force of the stream, which ruined the aerodynamic quality of her feathers. (For the record, the term ‘madder than a wet hen’ is a misconception. If you substitute ‘sadder’ for madder, it would be nearer the mark.)
I quickly wrapped her in the sodden towel with her head sticking out. The handle of the toilet plunger had slipped down my pants leg by now, leaving the business end sticking out above the waistband. I left it for the moment, as both hands were occupied keeping the critter trapped. Time enough to deal with the toilet plunger and my half-wet hair and clothing when I had Henrietta safe in her carton. My left shoe squelched with every step as I hurried back to the entry.
And there in the doorway stood Frigga, accompanied by her social worker who had come to inspect her new abode and meet me.