Posted by: Abe's Blog | April 10, 2010

Chicken Assassin

Some of you have asked, “What is with the obsession with chickens?” In fact, the question of my association with fowl has been asked with such frequency that I feel I must explain myself. Some of you may have read my blog, The Day the Chickens Stood Still, which contains yet another drama in the continued saga of an epic struggle between myself and these feathered beasts. But even this classic tale of shotguns, trickery, and mayhem leaves much unanswered. I believe it is time for me to explain. I will do my best, and I ask that you have patience, as my mind has a tendency to wander–this too shall be explained.

When I was very young, we lived in the back of a pickup truck. Then we lived in a house. Then we lived in a motel and it flooded. My sister was born at some point. Then we lived in someone else’s house. I think this is when I had my first experience with a chicken. It was a rooster. He was huge, gigantic, massive, and exceedingly loud. As I stood, a small tousled boy of four, this rooster spied me across the yard and decided to eat me. Screeching loudly, he charged with wings open wide and death in his beady eyes.
Being young, I cried and wet my pants. I also began to hate chickens. We settled in the Bay Area of California and my parents purchased their first home. I don’t recall if we had chickens, but I do know that we had a goat. The goat dragged me across the yard and gave me grass burns on my belly, and I began to hate goats as well–but I have already touched upon the subject of stinking goats and their evil trickery.

In 1979 we moved to the green State of Oregon, where we would remain a nuclear family for the next seven years. We settled in an old farm home on forty acres bounded by the Applegate River and facing rugged Grayback Mountain. I explored the new territory and discovered all of the hidden paths and trails. I lay on my belly in the leaves and hid amongst the tall grass and observed the wild world of  creation.  I watched ants haul bits and things over minature mountains and into their complex caverns. I saw the ant spider build his conical trap of sand in which he would capture the busy ants and then burst in terrifying, tiny glory from the bottom of the pit to sink his mandibles into their succulant bellies and drag them to their own special hell. We had no television–nature was my entertainment.

I began to see things in a new way. I discovered the awful secrets of this green earth. To everything there is a season, yes it is true. But to everything, there is also a beginning…and an end. And there is division–great division. Oh yes, we can sing and dance and tra la la la about the “circle of life” and the posies and the pansies but…there is something about this circle that is disconcerting… dark… frightening. We humans walk and talk and drive our cars and operate our machines, and we believe that we are the ultimate creatures on this world–we RULE this world, do we not? Do we?

We do not. You see, as a young boy, crawling through the poison oak and tall grass in my towel loin cloth and indian headress, I began to suspect that the animals and insects were communicating with each other. I thought that if I could crack their code, I could befriend them and talk with them and it would be a joyful time in the sun. I worked and obsessed, and after much trial and error, I developed a method of amplifying and translating insect and animal sounds. But in doing so, I believe I may have changed the course of man’s destiny forever.


I began my experimentation with flies. I found flies an excellent subject as they were annoying and were constantly buzzing around me–perhaps attracted by the scent of goat poo that clung to my knees. I began to catch these flies and perform intricate experiments upon them to discover the secret of communication. I must warn the reader at this point that animal experimentation is a gruesome undertaking, though I assure you that it is completely necessary to ensure the survival of our own species. In my bedroom, I constructed a laboratory of sorts. My chamber of experimentation and…torture…included a 9 volt battery, a toy train transformer, jars of water, a microscope, model glue, and an Erector Set electric motor. I tried freezing flies, then re-animating them through the use of electricity. On one occasion, I even elicited an electro-response from a subject whose wings had been removed to discourage escape before he was subsequently frozen solid. I also glued strings to fly feet in an attempt at making a Fly Kite. This never was successful, as flies cannot carry the weight of string and glue and still lift off the ground. So I froze them and then tried to electrocute them back to life. None of them would talk.

Finding flies to be useless and unintelligent creatures, I abandoned them and began to work with crawdads. Down in the river in the summertime, the crawdads were plentiful. They would meander around the shallows, then dart backwards under rocks if they were spooked. It was easy to catch them, and if you held them just right, you could avoid getting your fingers pinched–though often my assistants would find themselves pinched on the nose or earlobes. Crawdad experimentation centered around the socio-environmental aspects of the animal world. Crawdads of all sizes, ethnicities, and sexual preferences would be put into a ring of rocks in the shallows. Then through the careful guidance of myself and my trusty assistants, they would be goaded into violent conflicts with their neighbors. In the ensuing carnage of the Crawdad Battles, many of the weaker-minded souls would attempt to escape. This was rarely allowed until the experiment was complete, at which time the crawdads would be hucked back out into the water, or hurled high into the air to see how well they could belly-flop.

During this time, we also got our brood of chickens.
One day I killed them all. But I was ordered to do so, and a good soldier follows orders. I was only doing my duty.

I tried to explain this to the first one they sent. She was a fine hen, but sloppy in her approach, clucking softly in a voice she thought that I could not hear. Oh, but they didn’t know me then. This, their first encounter with the great and mighty Abe, was the moment they learned that I have been waiting for them and that I am ready. I can hear the soft cluck of a hen. I can hear the pit pat of a leathery foot scratching softly in the dust. I can read the malicious intent in the unblinking eye that is tossed casually in my direction. All of this I know and breathe and live and scream and swing with full expanse and next I know the head of the hen tumbles randomly across the yard and my sword is high above my head, quivering like the greedy blade she is.

This is my world. This is my land. “Send me more!” I scream, “Send them all!” And so they come. First one, then another. A Rhode Island red with sharpened talons, a Blue Andalusion fitted with num-chucks–their blood runs hot–a Barred Plymouth Rock with a blowgun, a Brahma bristling with spikes–join my pile of feathered heads. All! Bring them in twos and in threes and in giant flocks of fowl. I care not now, though my arm grows weary from the tussle.

I bury my fears for this is the path I have chosen. When first I popped a wing from that hapless fly, I opened that door to my own destruction. And though the visor of my steel helm is filled with feathers and duff, I can plainly see that this will be my end.

A crow is called by the cock on the roof of my barn. A stillness falls and I walk steadily to the grindstone and sharpen my blade. This sword, crafted by hand in Dad’s shop from the rusty blade of a whip saw, has not failed me yet. But in my heart, I know that is the final battle. Here will be known whether I stand or fall. Here will be known if mankind will be safe from my folly, or whether I will let us all down for eternity. I tear off my helmet and shake out my flaxen locks. Then I take off the wig and lay it down as well. Today I will be me. I will be Abe the Mighty, Abe the Terrible, Abe the Vengeful. Abe the…what the? A thump and a thump and a thump and the ground is jumping. The water in the trough vibrates with each concussion, and now the apples are falling from the trees. Boom. Boom. Like the step of a giant. And I can see the parting of the trees, and I am bent on bended knee and I am posed in majesty, and I have raised my sword arm high, and I am now prepared to die. For honor, for glory, for king and country…for the folly of my own.


I hope this answers the questions about my obsession with chickens. It makes no sense to me, but maybe my story can help someone out there. I don’t know, pass it on!

Jethro “Abe” Mantle
The man who one day will rule them all



  1. You are so freakin hilarious. If I’m not mistake I’ve read this one before… but it was even better this time, my friend 🙂

    • Yes, I originally posted this on Myspace almost 2 years ago. Thanks, Suz!

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