The Cock Doth Crow by S.H. Roddey

Published February 27, 2015 by admin

Oh me oh my, kidlets, have I got a treat for you today! My cohort, co-author, best bud, and enabler SH Roddey is here to rock your ever-loving minds with a gruesome, disturbing little short. Obviously I love it, and you should, too. It’ll make your morning – it’s all about breakfast and everything.

***

The Cock Doth Crow

by S.H. Roddey

 

“The cock doth crow
To let you know,
If you be wise,
Tis time to rise.”

 

Nursery Rhyme

 

The old rooster let go a warbling cry into the pre-dawn hours, the distant and lonely sound echoing off the tattered barn and over the pasture, bringing about the low of the cattle and the annoyed cry of the old barn-cat.  Back toward the farmhouse, a leaning, dilapidated structure consisting of creaky floorboards and drafty rafters, a candle-flame flickered.

An aging farmer by the name of Duncan Hearst tottered onto his porch, and from the candle-flame flickered to life a hand-rolled cigarette, which the old codger clutched between his withered lips.  He drew a shallow breath around the years of pollutants and the growing infection of emphysema, then let out a shaking, choking death-rattle of a cough.  The dog sleeping on the porch whimpered and scuttled under the ancient rocking chair, its tail curled around its paws for protection.  

“Duncan, you old fool!” the rackety woman’s voice screeched through the open door, “You get in here this instant and stop it with that nasty cigarette!”

“Coming, Martha,” he croaked, and took a final drag from the thing before flicking it over the porch-railing and scuttling back inside.

Duncan and Martha lived two miles from another soul, mainly because Duncan was such a horrid old coot that their neighbors had sold their farms off to be away from him.  Even their two daughters were grown and gone, and the whole slew of grandchildren Martha so desperately wanted to love never, ever came to visit.

Duncan was nearly sixty years old by Martha’s count, which meant that she was close on to fifty-five herself.  In their parish, they would have been considered among royalty for their ages, yet they were the outcasts, and she a pariah for her sweet doting on the undeserving wretch she called a husband.  But she had pledged ‘until death do us part’ all that many years ago, and until death did they part, she would continue to be true to him.

The old cock fluttered down from the fence in a torrent of feathers, then strutted toward the henhouse while Martha stood over the hearth, desperately wishing for the modern conveniences in which Duncan did not believe.  To have electricity, and a working oven that did not involve the chopping of firewood four times daily… running water in the house that did not require the cranking of an old well reel… Martha sighed wistfully as she gloved her hand in a tattered old pot holder and reached for the handle of the cast-iron skillet lying on the embers.

Hacking out a cough from lungs that sounded full of phlegm and infection, Duncan dragged himself into the house and seated himself at the table.  “Where is my breakfast, woman?” he snapped, pounding his fist on the table.  “At least get me my coffee if you plan to make me wait!”

Martha drew in a breath and held it for a three-count while she carefully placed the heated skillet on the prepared towels and cracked three eggs onto its smooth, black surface.  While the eggs sizzled in the pan, she pulled the kettle from the fire and poured two mugs of strong, black coffee.

“Here’s your coffee, Duncan,” she said, her words clipped from frustration, and turned back to flip the eggs.  While the pan was still hot she threw in four slabs of salted ham, careful to keep the fatty edges from popping into the eggs.  Mingling the flavors of Duncan’s breakfast certainly would not do, she thought with a sneer.

When the old fool’s breakfast was on a plate, she placed it gingerly on the table in front of him.  After thirty years of marriage, she had grown to expect no compliment, or even a thank-you… but when his lip curled and he glared at the eggs as if they were poisoned, she felt her patience wearing thin.

“Before you even think about insulting that breakfast, Duncan Hearst, you just remember how many ways you have deprived me! If you for one second think I will stand here and allow you to insult my cooking, you’ve got another thing coming. Now keep that smart trap of yours shut and eat your breakfast.”  Martha smothered a smug smile as Duncan’s jaw flapped like a loose hinge.  Before she lost her composure, she turned and strode from the kitchen.  She did not stop until she was out the back door and well toward the barn with the morning’s milk pail.  On the way out, she thought she heard the snick of a fork against a plate, but she wasn’t about to go back and check.

If anyone had asked her what had come over her in talking to her husband that way, Martha could have only shrugged.  She could easily tell a questioning party that she had grown weary of his insults and general lack of support, but that was only part of it, she mused as she pulled the stool up to Daisy’s side.  To be perfectly honest, she hated the old fool, and had since their youngest daughter, Lila Mae, had gone away to school and not come home again.

Her hatred flared brightly as starbursts behind her eyes as she sat down beside the cow and began her morning’s work. First the milk, then the eggs, then she would feed the animals before returning to the house to knead the day’s bread for baking. Duncan required fresh bread each day; he would never eat the remainder from the previous day. Martha would feed yesterday’s loaf to the chickens. It was Thursday, which meant she would boil up another chicken from their shrinking collection. She would take the hand ax to its throat and rip out its feathers from the tail up.

 The aging woman rose with her frothy milk pail and sat it in the window to separate before taking up her egg basket and heading for the henhouse. The cock strutted back and forth, back and forth, displaying his vibrant plumage for the biddies inside who, if they were at all like Martha, wouldn’t concern themselves with his show.

 She let the chickens loose and collected the morning’s eggs – only six for the day; Duncan would be less than pleased – then returned for her milk pail.

 When she returned to the house, Duncan had taken up his post in the rocking chair on the front porch. He sucked at one of his scant-made cigarettes, mostly paper and wood shavings to save on the cost of tobacco, and set about his list of the day’s complaints. The ham was not cooked properly. The eggs were too few. He would be damned if he’d eat day-old loaf. On the complaints continued.

 When Martha went to the back garden to collect the chicken for dinner, Duncan took it upon himself to follow her. His complaints echoed through her head, pinging shards of pain against the base of her skull. The old bastard was never happy…never. And she hated him. Yet his tirade continued, the poor fool unaware of his own misstep until the moment the ax blade meant for the fat hen wedged itself into the joint where his neck and shoulder met.

 Martha jerked the blade free and swung again, severing Duncan’s windpipe and esophagus. Blood spurted and oozed from the wound with each frantic beat of his heart, spraying the yellowing grass with a deep crimson coat. The third strike of the blade severed his spinal cord. His head, separated from his neck safe a thin strip of skin and his still in-tact jugular vein, lolled forward. His face bounced against his chest, leaving reddened lip prints on his dirty, white shirt.

 The body collapsed to its knees then fell forward, trapping Duncan’s miserable face between chest and dirt. Blood pooled from the raw, jagged wound, crawling across the dingy ground like fingers through pudding.

 Martha dropped the bloody ax to the ground beside her late husband and, with a smile, hoisted her skirt and turned for the house. She needed a change of clothes and her hair needed freshening. A visit to her daughters was long overdue, and it was far past time the babies met their maw-maw.

 ###

 The old rooster let go a warbling cry into the pre-dawn hours, the distant and lonely sound echoing off the tattered barn and over the pasture, bringing about the low of the cattle and  the annoyed cry of the old barn-cat.  Back toward the farmhouse, nothing happened.

***

Man, I have the coolest friends…Anywho, if you want to learn more about S.H. Roddey, you can check her at her website or on facebook

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