Late afternoon, Friday, June 21, 2013, final day of Spring, I left work ultra-aware that it was my dreaded "off-week" for getting paid -- as a salaried-employee, I get paid bi-weekly. My 250-cc Suzuki motorcycle needed gasoline, and prior to putting maybe $2.50 in the tank, I first checked-in with wife Carol on our family financial status. "Well Chuck, things are not good unless you manage to go to Biotest tomorrow and donate blood-plasma..., donors receive $40.00 in return, 'ya know"
" Yea, Carol. Biotest is located in Dickson City, right?"
" Yes, Chuck, it's in the strip mall beside the old Chuckie Cheese."
" O.K...., I'll go there before Noon. Do they pay cash?"
" I assume check," she replied.
Typically, especially on a pay-week, I'd much prefer donating blood-plasma as a charitable act, minus the money incentive, but traditional sentiments had to be considered and cast away, and get job done. And the sole thing I had to do for the remainder of the day was to travel to a local baseball field and watch my son Joseph play in an American Legion ballgame. A "planner" by nature, emergency response supervisor, "ready for all contingencies," if a ball-player comes around "passing the hat" during 3 rd inning, I'd tactically excuse myself, and walk toward Pagnotti Park rest-rooms. Nobody would know I'm broke.
Sixth inning, Joe's team taking a fierce beating, my company cell phone rang, answered, and it was Carol, emoting an excited and worried tone.
" Chuck, I hope you played the night-time Pa Daily Number '550' like I asked?
" Yea -- Carol, I did, and the ticket's right here in my wallet."
" O Jesus... we won $330.00! You won't have to go to Biotest tomorrow!"
Life continued and Carol persuaded me to leave the ball-game and go to the Convenient Market, cash-in winning ticket. Meantime, she'd get dressed, prepare to go to Price Chopper, stock-up our barren refrigerator. Felt like a millionaire, mounted the Suzuki, donned helmet, tucked the winning-ticket securely into front-pocket, pressed-down into first gear, waved goodbye like Marlon Brando to friends remaining at the ballfiled fence. Within minutes, I pulled into a Convenient Market lot , also serving as a Gulf gas station, dismounted, heard terrible animal screams coming from the adjacent vegetated embankment. It was a black-dog in hot-pursuit of a rooster. Merely five-feet from my bike, the dog prevailed, and tore apart the rooster's stomach. I will spare the particulars, but the scene was quite ugly, brown feathers strewn around, rooster down, massive internals, remarkably no blood release, bird's still alive, the dog ran toward Keyser Avenue, barked at passing traffic, and a bit shaken, I entered the Convenient Market in order to cash-in the winning Pa lottery ticket, number 550.
T by ptmitchell
Outside, money tucked away, I looked at the rooster's agonizing battle fight for life. Remembering the 1950's film, Old Yeller, I sensed the the bird should be humanely "put out-of-misery." I had neither capable knife nor was I "packing heat." What to do? Not a good venue for a killing, customers fueled cars at pump island, people in & out of market, one guy purchased a quart of Yuengling beer, walked toward me, said, "Hey dude, where the (expletive) did the mangled rooster come from?" Almost answered, maybe Verdun, Hindu Kush? Better nature took hold, told the guy, "somebody's likely raising chickens up the hill," and satisfied, he walked away.
The rooster continued wriggling in agony,and instead of returning home, I returned inside the store, and informed the Indian owners about the stricken-rooster that lay only twenty feet from store entrance. Did the dog hate the rooster "because it was free," I thought? One lady suggested calling the Old Forge police department and try and locate the rooster's owner. Customers entered the store, it did not look like anyone would call 9-1-1 anytime soon, and I purchased bottled water and "sunflower seeds" in order to comfort the dying rooster and perhaps keep it alive until cops arrived. The Indian owners watched me snatch an empty Styrofoam coffee-cup, cut-it to size so that the bird's beak could reach it.
Returned outdoors, a couple onlookers, and I futilely placed seed and cup of water close to the bird's beak -- nothing doing, pain overwhelming. Regrettably, the Old Yeller decapitation could not fly, the rooster must continue suffering, and I saddled-up for home. Both Indian owners stopped me before hitting the road. One said "that was very nice deed, Sir." "Well yea, thanks guys, I learned good lessons from one of your countrymen. Looked back, glimpsed rooster's condition, it did not touch seeds, water cup knocked over, I departed for home, $330.00 of lottery money secure in front-pocket. My family would feast this week.
Home at last, at kitchen table, Carol gave me a bowl of chicken soup, complete with boiled chicken parts, as I preferred. I told Carol abut the dying rooster, she said, "gosh, I hurt when even an animal suffers." We considered ourselves very lucky to have won the D aily Number, and I was rather ecstatic that there was no need for donating blood-plasma for money at Biotest tomorrow . Chicken soup had to cool, Carol returned to drying clothes, and I began to re-read the Scranton Times Tribune, front page, June 20, 2013, disturbing headline, " TORTURE." Neither Gitmo nor Bradley Manning variant, this particular torture was not ideal-reading while one waited for soup to cool, but I was compelled to read it, again and again. Let the newspaper story bite, until it hurt.