CHEAP EATS My cowboy hat had mold in it. My chicken farmer coat had mold in it. Even the buttons were fuzzy. My brother doesn't take baths, he takes showers, and so the outdoor tub was full of insect skeletons, spiders, spider webs, and junk mail. There is a rumor that a guest of his hid some weed in the chicken coop. Not that I'm interested, but I took a look anyway and only saw straw.
I am tempted to get chickens again. There is no buried treasure that chickens will not eventually uncover, and I've always kind of wanted stoner chickens. I've always wondered what it would be like if they, as a species, were a little more chill and slept longer. Not that it would matter much to me at this point. Ten years of chicken farming has permanently programmed me to snap awake at first-light. In the year or so since I last farmed actual chickens, nothing has changed on this front.
Anyway, I don't know if I can keep this place. My brother, who had been subletting it, went bust and lit out for Ohio, leaving me, for the moment, his van. Which burns oil, has a badly cracked windshield, no horn or high-beams, electrical problems, and a slow leak in at least one tire. What this all reminds me of, naturally, is every other car I've ever had except for that last little one, the new one, which I sold last year when I sold my soul to the devil, and my heart to someone even meaner.
So wheels being wheels, I am able at will to visit my old, now-haunted shack in the woods, at least until the brother comes back.
Should I get chickens?
Can anyone help me pay the rent? Surely I must have me some friends in town who like to sneak away and be haunted for a weekend by the ghost of broken water heaters, all-night face-touching in the dark, and the squawks of long-ago stewed chickens, scratching and pecking from dusk to dawn in search of rumored grass.
The editor of the paper I write for, if not the world, wrote to me while I was still in Europe and said, "If you come back, I will buy you duck soup."
Technically he said when you come back, but for fun I want to think of this — this duck soup business — as just that: business. Like a contract extension. Or a contract renegotiation. Or a contract.
So correct me if I'm wrong, my lawyerly readers, but I interpret it like this: If I come back (which I did), what's in it for me is one bowl of my favorite thing to eat in the whole wide world, duck noodle soup, and — as a kind of a signing bonus — an unwritten, nonverbal, body-languageless, and in-no-way-even-hinted commitment to continue to publish this column for as long as I am alive and can make a sentence — whichever comes first.
That's a no-brainer, innit? No brain, no heart, no soul, but I've still got me my stomach, don't I? And a healthy appetite and this shit van for a month, and two places to live and at least two bikes ...
So I wrote back just as soon as I was in the country, give or take exactly 13 days, and agreed in spirit to the editor of the paper I write for's proposal. Then I donned my best business skirt and matchingest sneakers, hopped on one of my at-least-two bikes, and pumped it to the Tenderloin to iron out the details.
The details: wide egg noodles, one whole, delicious, fall-apart tender duck leg quarter, and wontons in a wonderfully businesslike broth. Times two. As a show of support and solidarity, Mr. Redmond ordered the same exact thing!
So I told him my story, like I tell all my friends, only instead of making him cry or puke or curse or have to walk around the block a few times to clear his head, he came back with an even better story. And by better I mean worse. Which makes me feel kind of actually, I don't know, good — knowing that shit happens to everyone, even editors.