THE WRITER’S LIFE
Lately I’ve been spending time with Lenny, the chicken which hatched from a Campbell’s soup can painted by Andy Warhol. I’ve been accused of making Len up, as though the cure for my social anxiety was all in my mind. In any case, we’ve been touring the places I know. We’ve been out in my village, and anyone who saw us will know we’re real.
As Helen (as she turned out to be) had grown restless in the studio, we first visited the local charity shops. As an assistance chicken, she was allowed in, which eased a burden of pressure on me. Len could choose her own toys, which she did by pecking and clawing at various pieces of plastic tat. She also took an interest in the books, vigorously headbutting a children’s bible. It was a win-win for me: Money to charity, and a happy self-educating chicken to boot.
Len was keen to return home with her toys and book, but we still had shopping to do. As we walked through the village, she was tugging at her lead in various directions she considered to be toward home (she was no pigeon). The zebra crossing on the high street contained poultry for much of the afternoon, as we crossed repeatedly from one side to the other.
Eventually we made it to the supermarket, where I stocked up on food for us both. Len stayed close, perhaps sensing my relief that this was the last stop and we’d be home soon.
Back at the studio, I unpacked the shopping while Len made a bed with her toys and started leafing through her children’s bible. I asked her if there was anything she fancied for dinner, and she headbutted an open page in her book. It was Jesus and the feeding of the 5000. I made us fish finger sandwiches.
While I was cooking, Len read some more of her bible. As I was putting our sandwiches together, I heard a tapping on my typewriter. Craning my head around the doorway, I saw Len at the desk, on this very laptop. I saved what she typed:
“I am God.”
Maybe my chicken couldn’t speak to me directly, but she’d found a way to communicate. I had to reply:
“What makes you say that?”
“My family are dead. I am the only one left.”
“Who were your family?”
“Those in the supermarket, the Indian, the Chinese and the kebab shop.”
No wonder we’d crossed the road so many times. Thankfully there isn’t a KFC in the village, and Deliveroo don’t deliver(oo).
“I am God.”
“How do I know?”
I couldn’t ask for proof besides her survival outside the local food outlets, because that would deny faith. Even though I’m an atheist, I at least had a chicken for company. My chicken – imaginary or not – had helped me overcome my social anxiety.
“You’ll never know,” she wrote, “my beautiful typewriter.”
But there was no reply. My chicken had disproved herself, because I’d asked.
As an atheist, I don’t pray to any false deity made in man’s image, but Lenny the chicken will forever live in my mind.
Kentucky fried | Protect me from what I want (Michel Koven Blog)
© Steve Laker, 2019