KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Micro-Fiction: 406 words

Maxine’s Story About Alice the Hen

by Dan Gilmore

I don’t have time for formalities. I just pick up my food, find someone who looks interesting, and start talking. That’s how I met Hackmuth last winter at the Salvation Army. I liked his look—wild gray hair, bushy gray beard, and eyes that were about to pop out of their sockets.

I told him that when I was ten, I had a pet hen named Alice, a Rhode Island Red with orange feathers, who thought she was a rooster. Every morning I’d wake up early enough to watch her strut about on her pre-sunrise inspection, head bobbing this way and that, stopping to scratch and peck at something before she hopped up on her coop.

I paused, waiting for Hackmuth to look up, maybe give me a wink or something, but he didn’t. So I went on.

Once Alice was on top of her coop, she’d raise her head to the sky, flap her wings, and let it rip, not a crow exactly but something between a bad cough accompanied by a sneeze and the screech of brakes that sounded exactly like the brakes on my Daddy’s old truck when he stopped at the gate the day he left us. Then, after Alice finished making her sound, she’d hop down and strut a little more before taking a few sips of water from the trough.

By this time, Hackmuth was eating his fruit cocktail. And I was relieved to see that he could move. I didn’t fancy a man dying on me before I finished telling my story. The ending was the best part.

I said, Alice’s call was as inspirational as any sermon I ever heard any Salvation Army minister preach and as formative of my soul as all the readings I’d done from the Bible. It was Alice’s own sermon preached in her own voice, I said, a voice that still lives inside me, that tells me it don’t matter who you are or how much noise you make, you are entitled to fling open those heavy gates that imprison you and sing your own song. That’s what I tell anyone who’ll listen, I said. Sing out brother, sing out sister. Don’t hold back nothing.

Hackmuth took a last bite of his fruit cocktail and looked at me with those funny eyes of his. So I crowed at him. And that was the beginning of our friendship.


Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡