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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting Even With Pablo*

My mother's cruelty had its limits. She would, for instance, pray for the sick if they were "really" sick and not just "pertending"--she claimed to have an uncanny ability to tell the sick from the pretenders. She would also defend animals of all sorts when they couldn't defend themselves, but so long as they were not guilty of any crimes against her person or property. If animal or person (kin or not) dared cross the line, her fury had no least to me. Pablo benefited from her saintly generosity.

Pablo was a baby when my mother first brought him into the house. His mother had abondned him and, my mother said, he would've died out in the cold if she didn't bring him in. As a two-week old he was a small, furry, yellow ball of adoroableness. Because my mother had rescued him from the cold, he thought she was his mother. He followed her around like a normal depenant, although she never sat on him to keep him warm. She baptized him Pablo and loved him like a son.

Pablo grew up fast. He soon became an awkward teenager. His feathers were unevenly distributed, and his color was an off-brown; he looked like a mangled eagle or a recently rehabed vulture. My father came home one day and almost stepped on him; Pablo screamed, my father jumped and avoided falling by holding on to my neck, he chased Pablo all over the house, cursing and throwing whatever he could find in Pablor's direction. Pablo ran to the kitchen and took cover behind my mother's legs. My father yelled: "Let's eat that fuckin animal already!" and "What's he doing in the house?" My mother responded clamly: "Leave him alone" and "you need to watch where you're walking." It was during this time that I realized that he was a part of the family and not just a charity case. More than that, Pablo knew he was my mother's ward. She was his protector.

In a year, Pablo was clucking his way about the house with his chest out and his long tail-feathers, beutifully colored, fanning the air behind him. He fuckin annoyed me. He was a cocky little cock (actually, he was a fighting cock who had never thrown a punch). But my mother wouldn't kick him out, even though he was already full grown. He slept in the porch, in a box with blankets and water. He'd wake everyone up at the crack of dawn, which sucked for everyone but my father who had to go to work, and for my mother who packed my father's lunch. In other words, it sucked for me.

At some point, Pablo realized that I was his competition. He'd stand outside my bedroom door and murmur some demonical verses in his own chicken language. I'd throw my shoes against the door to scare him off; I could hear my mother: "stop that!" and "you're gonna break that door!" and "don't make me come in there!" Fuckin Pablo. I'd get up at about 7 and get ready for school. Pablo would charge me and pick a fight. I'd rush right at him hoping he would't move so I could kick him in the face. But he would run and find my mother, who would tell me to sit the hell down and eat my breakfast. I'd get my backpack and walk out the door. Pablo would walk me to the stairs and watch me leave. We would stare at each other and wish each other ill.

My guess is that he was good company for my mother, who from lack of papers had to stay home and avoid dealing with the inevitable existential boredom which pervades all of Being. Pablo lived with us in the Gashouse for what now seems a good lifetime. One cold December morning it was the silence that woke everyone up. My mother walked to the porch to find Pablo frozen stiff in his luxury box. The cock was dead and I could't help but feel...exhuberant. My mother, I can only guess, was sad about the tragedy. My father, who had come home to pick up a jacket, grabbed him by the tail feathers on his way into the kitchen and put him in a pot of boiling water. By 7 a.m. he was defeathered and cut to pieaces, soaking in a pot with carrots and squash. When I got home from school I had chicken stew. Pablo was tough; his leg muscles strained my jaw muscles. The meat was dry. I asked my mother for his heart and ate it with a bit of salt. It was chewey and tasted like blood and vengance--or maybe life and ipseity. Fuckin Pablo.

*Thanks for the title, Jeremy W.

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