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A weary young man named Skeet Humprey is out on his back porch enjoying a cigarette before going to bed.

It is almost midnight and the fourth generation farmer is using the five minutes of solitude to clear his head after busy day attending to 400 head of cattle over 100 sheep and an assortment of others critters both big and small.

His wife of ten years Hattie looks after 15 chickens and a randy old rooster named Peckerwood.

His eight year old son Billy Bob claimed ownership of a mangy mutt who wandered onto the ranch o few months back and for a reason only known to himself Billy Bob named the dog Lonesome.

Millie his six year old daughter loves to play in the mud and help her mom with the chickens.

Skeet is proud of his family and hopes that one day Billy Bob will take over the farm and keep it in the family.

He met Hattie in high school and they have been together ever since and she has been a loving and supportive wife who has raised the children to respect their elders and just be happy and enjoy playing in the fresh air.

Hattie has just secured a contract to supply as eggs to a fast food restaurant in town plus in the near future they would like to purchase fresh chicken a few times a week so Peckerwood will need to get busy so the family has another source of income to keep the wolves from the door.

Skeet finishes his cigarette and goes to bed a happy man but a somber thought in the back of his mind keeps him awake.

cock a doodle do cock a doodle do cock a doodle do

Peckerwood is up early and he is determined to wake every man woman and child in within a three mile radius.

The rooster struts around the yard like Mick Jagger patrolling the stage with the stones back in the day.

But looks can be deceiving because lately Peckerwood has become listless and he has neglecting the hens more and more everyday.

Skeet and Hattie jolt awake at the sound of the rooster on overdrive but they soon recover and begin to snuggle when Peckerwood calls again reminding them that there isn’t a snooze button on a rooster’s alarm clock , so stop what you started and get out of bed.

Billy Bob and Millie wander bleary eyed into the kitchen where the smell of pancakes with maple syrup fills their nostrils with joy’ Mama’ Billy Bob demands’ Why does Peckerwood wake up so early on a Saturday when surely should know by now that we don’t go to school on the weekend’

‘Honey Peckerwood doesn’t know what day it is , he is just behaving like a normal rooster now finish eating your pancakes and go outside to play’

While Hattie cleans up after breakfast Skeet goes into the study to check the monthly data sheets because there has been a worrying trend in the last quarter and worryingly even though egg production is up the birth of live chicks is down 6% and if the situation isn’t rectified soon then the family could lose the new contract and any future contracts.

Pouring himself a cup of coffee Skeet watches his kids playing happily with Peckerwood running back and forth threatening to trip them up, while beneath the chicken coop Lonesome barks once before going back to sleep.

Skeet knows that he can’t wait any longer, Peckerwood isn’t performing his duty so he has to go and a younger more virile rooster brought in.

He doesn’t want to upset Hattie but the farm has to come first so he goes out to the yard to find Peckerwood has finished playing and is now busy scratching for worms and scraps ‘Come here Pecker’ Skeet calls, and the rooster runs to catch up as fast as his little legs will take him.

Skeet walks out of view behind the barn and picks up a axe embedded in a chopping block and a few seconds later the underperforming rooster appears but skids to a stop on seeing what his master is holding.’ I am sorry Peckerwood but you aren’t really living up to your name are you?’

‘I have a business to run and i can’t afford to keep a rooster who is all noise with no lead in his pencil so please step forward and place your head on the chopping block’

Knowing that his time is up Peckerwood tip toes to his own execution and places his scrawny neck on the wooden block.

Tears threaten to erupt from the farmer so he hurries up the procedure but not before Peckerwood looks at him with pleading eyes’ Sorry fella but haven’t got a blindfold just close your eyes and it will be over before you know it’

Skeet raises the axe and says a last goodbye to his friend then he swiftly brings the sharpened steel down but stops just in time when Billy Bob and Millie come racing around the corner ‘No daddy don’t kill Peckerwood, give him another chance please’

Seeing that his executioner has been distracted the rooster makes a run for it and scrambles beneath the chicken coop kicking Lonesome out of the way.

His startled children run back to the house screaming’ Mommy daddy just tried to murder Peckerwood’

‘How could you even think of killing my rooster without discussing it with me first’ a fuming Hattie demands ‘I hand raised Peckerwood since he was a chick , he is part of the family’

‘I am sorry Hattie but he has been ignoring the hens these last few months and if we lose the contract the farm could go under’

‘Calm down Skeet we want lose the farm because Peckerwood’s soldier can’t stand to attention, the cattle and sheep are bringing in a good income.

‘First thing tomorrow morning we will visit the vet and hopefully he can give Peckerwood a booster shot and soon he will be back romancing the hens again’

Skeet is doubtful but he nods his head in agreement after all it can’t hurt to try and find a remedy for Peckerwood’s ailment.

When the sun rises in the morning all is quite on the farm front, Peckerwood is still in hiding under the coop and even a sprinkling of seed on the ground doesn’t help but a quick nip on the butt from Lonesome sends the rooster running right into a carry box.

The veterinarian is a crusty old timer named Cyril Blackadder who has been looking after all creatures great and small for over fifty years.

His attention immediately goes to Peckerwood sitting calmly in the carry box then he finally looks at the troubled couple’ I haven’t seen you two in a while so what seems to be the trouble with your rooster?

‘Well Doc’ Hattie responds ‘He has become listless and tired the last few months plus he has been neglecting the hens so me and Skeet are wondering if there is some sort of treatment to put the wood back in Peckerwood’s pecker?’

Cyril shakes his head ‘Sorry folks but Peckerwood is just getting old so all i can suggest is that you buy a new rooster and let Peckerwood free roam in his twilight years’

On the way home the couple stop at a neighbours farm and purchase a virile young rooster named Sledgehammer.

It goes without saying that the two roosters took an instant dislike to each other and when Skeet opens the two carry boxes and releases the two birds Sledgehammer immediately goes on the offensive drawing blood and scaring the bejesus out of Peckerwood.

Relishing that his days as number one rooster are well and truly over Peckerwood scrambles behind the barn and hides behind the well used chopping block.

Looking up at the axe glinting menacingly in the afternoon sun Peckerwood thinks’ If i can just press my neck against the sharp blade my misery will end and i will fly off to the great chicken coop in the sky’ but the poor bird can’t work up the strength to stand so he just lays in the dirt hoping that a coyote will come along and snap his scrawny neck.

Two hours later Hattie is nice and warm inside the family home watching TV but she can’t concentrate on the program because she knows that Peckerwood is out in the cold all alone and miserable so she grabs a jacket and tells Skeet that she is going outside to see if she can find Peckerwood and tends to his wounds.’Peckerwood will be okay Hattie, he is a tough old bird he just needs to keep away from Sledgehammer for a while’

‘I know Skeet but i need to see for myself that his injuries aren’t life threating so i can relax and get a good nights sleep’

Turning on the porch light Hattie picks up the seed tin and carries it out to the yard, after a few shakes she calls out’ Here Peckerwood, come to mama Pecky and i will give you a nice handful of seed then take you inside so you can sit by the fire until morning’

Behind the chopping block Peckerwood lifts his head from the dirt and lets out a tiny squawk not much louder then a sparrows fart but Hattie has the hearing of an owl and after pinpointing the location she races behind the barn and scoops up Peckerwood and hurries him inside to check on his injuries.

Wrapping him in a towel she checks his wounds but she soon discovers that besides a few cuts and scratches the main injury is to his pride.

Skeet calls out for Hattie to bring him a beer ‘I am busy come and get it yourself’

When Skeet walks into the kitchen Hattie gives him a ‘Don’t you dare buster’ look so Skeet grabs a Bud from the fridge and goes back to the basketball game.

Outside Sledgehammer sensing that his rival is getting special treatment decides to tell the neighbourhood that he and only him is the leader of the hens.

COCKADOODLE DOO COCKADOODLE DOO COCKADOODLE DOO COCKADOODLE DOO.

Hattie looks out the window at Sledgehammer standing atop of the chicken coop puffing out his chest and shaking his tail feathers.

‘You will get yours mister just you wait and see’

Day after day the chick birth rate is steadily increasing, Skeet is one happy man, finally he has a rooster who is paying his way plus the hens all seem happy and contented but more importantly the future of the farm is now rock solid, perhaps it s time to increase the chicken numbers ten fold and a few more roosters wouldn’t go astray.

While Skeet is outside singing the praises of Sledgehammer Hattie has been online ordering packs of whey powder ,muscle building protein powders plus an assortment of other goodies.

With a glint in her eye she presses add to cart and gives Peckerwood a gentle pat’ Don’t worry boy soon you will return to your glory days’

A week later arriving home from the post office Hattie rips open the package and adds a few tiny scoops of powder into Peckerwoods water bowl.

The old rooster still bearing a few mental scars dips his head into water repeatedly and Hattie is happy that her old friend want become a feather duster for a year or two.

Peckerwood returns to the water bowl time and time again in the following and he can feel his get up and go that got up and went a few months ago is slowly returning.

The calves on his his skinny legs have become taut and terrific plus he has bulked significantly so he is confident that in a week or two he can return outside and kick some sand in Sledgehammers face.

And three days later that is exactly what he does.

All is quiet at the stroke of midnight passes over the chicken coop where Sledgehammer is sitting guard over his harem.

With one eye open the upstart keeps lookout in case a eagle or coyote is stupid enough to attempt an attack on his watch.

For a split second he closes both eyes and when he re opens them Sledgehammer squeaks in fright because before him stands what appears to be a somewhat pumped up pimped out rooster.

Without warning Peckerwood attacks and in a frenzy Sledgehammer is plucked from crop to ankle and feathers are scattered to all parts of the county. ‘I let you off easy this time Sledgehammer , i could have ripped you open from breast to drumstick now fuck off home and don’t come back’

COCK ADOODLE DOO COCK ADOODLE DOO COCK ADOODLE DOO.

‘Holy shit’ Skeet wakes with a jolt’ It is only 3 o’clock what has got into Sledgehammer?’ But he is still on daylight savings time’

Beside her husband Hattie smiles in satisfaction’ I think you will find Skeet that Peckerwood is back and Sledgehammer has either gone home or taken flight to God knows where’

After a strong cup of coffee Skeet goes outside to find the chicken coop on its side and a shitload of feathers in the yard ‘ Sweet Jesus’ Skeet gasps when he notices a new and approved Peckerwood strutting around the yard like a heavyweight boxer’ Hattie get out here something strange has happened to your rooster’

Wiping her hands on her apron she walks to the porch door’ Yeah i know Skeet i have been feeding him supplements, protein powder and what not’

‘Supplements Hattie, Peckerwood looks like Steven Segal only with a better haircut’

Hattie smiles to herself ‘ You ain’t seen nothing yet’

After cleaning up the mess and making sure all the hens are accounted for Skeet walks inside to confront his wife’ Hattie what exactly have you been feeding Peckerwood because he is an old rooster and the supplements are meant for human consumption, i am afraid that if he bulks up anymore his little heart will explode’

Hattie comes to realize that Skeet is right and she begins to cry’ All i wanted was for Peckerwood to go back to being the rooster he was but all i was doing was putting his life at risk’

‘ I that from now on he will get nothing but seed and scraps from the kitchen’

The couple snuggle before making their way back to the bedroom and for the first time in years they miss Peckerwoods crow for his midmorning feed.

Peckerwood scratches in the dirt for a few more minutes while he waits for his owner to appear and throw him a few scraps and maybe a bowl of that sweet tasting water but after growing tired of waiting he decides to go looking for himself.

He enters the house through Lonesome’s doggy door and after pecking at a few morsels from the kitchen floor he notices a paper sack up on the counter.

Ripping open the sack Peckerwood snorts a gram or two of protein powder then he breaks open a blister pack of little blue pills and swallows three of the treats.

Five minutes later Peckerwood starts to feel a little under the collar and his block and tackle has grown to enormous proportions.

Forgetting all about morning tea the randy rooster almost trips down the stairs on his way out to the chicken coop.

The hens never knew what hit them, they were just sitting on their nests minding their own business then they were all ravished by what looked like a three legged rooster.

After their ordeal most flew up a nearby tree to escape and some were still shaking barely clinging onto a branch thre days later.

Hearing the commotion outside Skeet and Hattie rush outside to see the hens squawking up in the trees’ I might be a coyote or a rattler Hattie , wait here while i grab the shotgun’

The bewildered couple slowly creep towards the coop when the culprit appears from within with a huge smile on his face , the only thing missing is a well earned cigarette.

‘What is that thing hanging between Peckerwoods legs Hattie surely it can’t be his’

‘Shut up Skeet i think Peckerwood might have taken some Viagra i bought for him’

‘Viagra? Are you crazy Hattie, why would you buy something like that for a rooster?’

‘Because i was upset when you bought Sledgehammer, but i swear Skeet i never gave him any, he must of found the stash and swallowed some.

‘You think Hattie, he looks like he is swinging a baseball bat’

It takes a week for Peckerwood to completely recover and over a month before the hens trusted him again, now except for a nasty case of friction burn Peckerwood is back to his old self.

Now once a week a prize winning rooster named Tender Touch visits to service the hens while Peckerwood enjoys his retirement digging for worms and dreaming about how he can get his claws into some more of those little blue pills.

THE END.