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10. Coyote Mobile

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Ten

Coyote Mobile

The loudest duck gets shot.

Chinese proverb

Im going to kill the chicken, Don announces without preamble. You want to help?

Uh... sure, I reply uncertainly. I feel obliged to witness its death since Im responsible for pointing out its scabrous condition. A little while ago I went out to the henhouse to say hello to the chickens. Hello, chickens! I said. Right away they lined up, pressing forward to see if I brought food. They all came over to greet me except for one, the one with the weird walk and the bloated stomach. She looked really bad. Chunks of feathers on her back were gone, and her demeanor was sullen. Worse, she was huddled in the corner where the first bird had croaked. She couldnt smell death, because death smelled like her.

Shes eating, Don remarked, when I returned to the human house and tattled on her. Its probably not a disease. Dourly, he scratched his chin. He was not particularly interested in deciphering the clues.

The feathers on her back are funny, I insisted. Either shes picking them out, or the other birds are pecking her.

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13. Don’t Shoot the Deer in the Ass

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Thirteen

Dont Shoot the Deer in the Ass

The hunter is not least a subject of song, who brings peace to our pastures and feasts us with every sort of meat.

Synesisus of Cyrene, Letter 148, 1st century AD

It is 5 A.M., and John is getting ready to go deer hunting. Outside, its twenty-three degrees in the disappearing dark, and the fields are frozen. By the time I turn over, a shy mist is rising from the land, blending earth and sky. John is using my half of the bed to offload and organize his gear. I am pretending to be asleep.

I open one eye, and see orange. Theres a fluorescent puffy vest layered on top of me.

To keep you warm, baby, he says primly, and tucks it in around me.

Mmmph, I thank him, and disappear under the quilt.

He tugs on long johns and heads upstairs for food.

Brzzzzzip! goes the coffee bean grinder.

Thump! go the logs in the stove.

Argh! I mutter, pulling his pillow over my head. Something soft lands on me. Its a balled-up sock. I sneeze and count my blessings. This time, the sock is clean.

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5. Sex Ed Chicks

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Five

Sex Ed Chicks

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

Peter Clemenza, in The Godfather, 1972

A flock of baby chickens has arrived at the house in Maine. They started out as sixteen unsexed chicks, meaning the males and females werent sorted before going into the box. Odds are that the ratio of male to female will be 50/50, but the actual contents are a surprise, kind of like one of those Jumbo Mystery Boxes sold by the novelty shop Archie McPhee, Americas foremost purveyor of fighting nun windup toys and the classic rubber chicken. How to sex a chick? I pick one up and eyeball its X-rated parts. No dangling bits. Its a hairy eyeball with little whirling legs. Peep! Peep! But, alas, no show. Its such a tricky task telling the boys from the girls that chicken sexer is an actual job, and even the professionals get it wrong. I do an internet search of sexed chick, and get dozens of strange hits. The top entry? Sex Ed Chicks.

The omniscience of math prevails: precisely eight of the baby chicks turn out to be males. Seven are dispatched right away. Translation: they are killed. They expire whether or not you approve; blissful ignorance does not change the way of the world. To placate their children, parents buy pastel-colored chicks at Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. These baby birds come dyed. No surprise, then, that they dont live very longdrowned in dog slobber, smothered in chocolate kisses, set free so they can be promptly run over by an SUV. Pet owners absolve themselves of these deaths, because it wasnt their fault. The cat did it.

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Prologue

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Prologue

Keaton always said, I dont believe in God, but Im afraid of him. Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Big Bird.

Verbal Kint, in The Usual Suspects, 1995

Parishioners believed he could heal them with his hands. As a kid, I knew my father was different, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was a preacher. His legs were shriveled down to bone and he walked funny, sometimes with a cane. His face beamed. He forgot to eat. He liked Maine, because the rocky terrain reminded him of home. He and my mother came to the U.S. from Korea after the war. At first, there were four of us, and then there were five: my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, and me in the middle. My older brother and I fought mean and hard, locked in a death match from the day I was born. Oblivious to the slugfest, my baby sister sat back and let the adults admire her. She was the pretty one, and could never figure out why I was so furious all the time. She was born with grace. Predictably, her Korean name, Young-Mi, means flower. Mine is Young-Nan. It means egg.

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9. Do Not Feed the Bears

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Nine

Do Not Feed the Bears

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Archy the Cockroach, from Don Marquis, Archy and Mehitabel, 1927

Weeks later, as fall draws near, the morning sun means that John and I will be bushwhacking up the mountain in back of the Big House. The reason is to look for moose and deer sign, because this is what hunters do. Its also just to get to the top of the mountain, because its there, and its a beautiful day. Dressed in hiking gear and ready to go, I start filling water bottles to stuff into our daypacks as John sits at the chair by the door and starts lacing on hiking boots.

Just so you know, Don says laconically to John from his lounger in the living room, the McKennas were back there, setting up bear bait.

(... bear bait?)

They quit hunting bears, Don continues. Now they run a little guide business for tourists who want to see bears. But dont be surprised if you smell something.

(... smell something?)

Err, I say, raising my hand to object.

Not likely youll find yourself in the same spot, Don drawls, pointedly ignoring the surprised look on my face, but no need to worry. Bears get timid as soon as the bait comes out because they know the seasons starting. Theyll just run away from you.

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