We were all pretty sheepish in the shop this morning. Don’t really know what happened with the bear yesterday but I definitely shouted out stuff I didn’t want anybody but the bear to hear. Hopefully nobody noticed and we’re all in the same boat so it’s not too bad. It’s not like when I ruin work Christmas parties and then have to show up on the Monday. It’s like more like when we all ruin the Christmas party.
I didn’t see Enrique at all until mid-morning when he stuck his head out of the office and beckoned me ominously. We’re not doing hot food today. Today’s a weird day. It’s like the eye of the storm – the walls of the storm being Good Friday and Easter Sunday and even those days are more like the calm before the storm. And Monday’s a Bank Holiday so today is a write off really. It’s nothing like a storm but it was busy. Paula was behind the counter with me so I could go into Enrique’s office, no sweat.
“What?” I asked him looking around for unlikely animal invaders. A koala bear or something. A giraffe. There were none but on his desk was a twelve pack of eggs. A dozen, in Olde English. He’d cracked them all into an empty ice cream tub. There were also Easter eggs – unwrapped and smashed – and a raw chicken. Here we go, I thought to myself.
Enrique waved for me to sit down and then he sat down in his chair. “What?” I asked him again. I watched as Enrique made a clicking noise with his mouth and tried to formulate what he wanted to say. He puckered his mouth and moved his puckered mouth across his face and then back again. “What?” I asked.
Enrique looked up at me and then down to the produce that lay between us like a fox’s smorgasbord. He moved his hands over the produce like a chess player with his back against the wall in the World Chess Championship Final. I thought he was going to pick up some chocolate but then, with a sigh, he picked up the raw chicken. It was unwrapped but still on the polystyrene tray He held it up deftly with one hand and even managed to spin. He looks like a waiter. He should be a waiter.
“Dis?” He said.
“A chicken,” I replied although I didn’t really think that’s what he wanted to know.
“Where dis from?”
“Vietnam,” I told him. I actually knew that even with the packaging gone because I’d noticed it ages ago. On that day I’d been so bored I read the chicken wrapper. I was disappointed though not surprised. Food miles are a fact of life.
“Non,” said Enrique. He was being pretty serious. He put the chicken down and I wondered how long it had been out of the fridge. “How does a chicken g’happen?”
“That’s the age old question!” I told him wishing, as I do, that my life was being filmed and people could hear me say these smart things.
“De a jold question?”
“Age. Old. Old. It’s the old question.”
“How does chicken happen?”
“Yeah, you know? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Nobody knows for sure. It’s a… thing.”
“I know,” said Enrique nodding and looking at the big mess in front of us.
“Not de fucking egg, man.”
“Okay,” I agreed, I didn’t care.
“Look!” He pointed into the tub that was empty of ice cream but about a 7th full of egg yolks and the stuff in the egg that isn’t the yolk. Something like album, it’s called, I think. Alblumen. Nah, don’t know.
“Eggs,” I said.
“Eggs yes, chicken no.”
“No,” I agreed.
“Where is chicken?”
“You mean why isn’t there a chicken in the egg?”
“Yes why no chicken? It is a mystery, no?”
“Well, Enrique,” I said, this time it was me who took a few seconds to formulate what I wanted to say. I scratched my lip. Had a spot there the other day. “See, a chicken lays eggs anyway. Everyday. They only turn into an actual chicken if they’re fertilised.” I hoped that was the end of the matter.
“Okay, fertilltillasized with a… a… a dick?”
“Like Paula was fertilltillasized by a dick.”
“Bit harsh,” I said and then laughed at my own great joke. Where were those cameras? “But yeah. Fertilised.” Was that the word? It sounded weird now I was hearing it so much. Like when I said ‘lorry’ so many times in quick succession it was no longer a word in the English language. Inseminated. That was what I meant. Was it?
“She no lay hegg,”
“No.” I agreed. Paula did not lay an egg.
“So…” said Enrique again looking over his army battalions spread out on the desk. He picked up the chicken again. “Where is the dick?”
I tried to resist. I really did but I couldn’t and I pointed at him and said, “there!” I imagined gales of laughter from people watching that on TV. Enrique didn’t get it. “That’s probably a girl chicken,” I told him.
He lifted it off the tray. “Dis de fanny?” He asked me pointing to one end of the chicken.
“I don’t know,” I told him honestly.
“Or dis?” He asked pointing at the other end.
“I really don’t know.” I couldn’t actually work out which end of the chicken was which or which way up it would have went when it was alive. Enrique mulled this over. “Okay?” I said going through the standing up preliminaries which means smacking my thighs. This shows I’m about to stand up.
“Bah, bah, bah!” Barked Enrique with his left palm raised to stop me standing.
“So. A man chicken has a dick?”
“Yes,” I sighed, but now I wasn’t sure. I’d never seen a chicken’s dick. I certainly wasn’t going to tell Enrique a man chicken is called a cock, that would have been like that time that whole Spanish family tried to teach me the word manana meant ‘tomorrow’, but it also meant ‘morning.’ They were shouting over each other like idiots for a hour.
Enrique opened his top drawer and then his middle draw. What he wanted was in his middle drawer. It was a pad of paper. He took it out. I watched. Enrique then blew my mind by drawing a brilliant chicken.
“That’s awesome!” I told him, genuinely very impressed. I didn’t know he could draw. It wasn’t like he’d copied the chicken he had, this was a real chicken.
“Dis woman chicken,” he said tapping the chicken with his pen.
He then drew another great chicken right behind the first chicken, when Enrique draws he sticks his tongue out of the corner of his mouth. “Dis man chicken,” he said.
“Yup,” I agreed.
“Now, problem,” He said moving his pen over his drawing but not drawing. “How big?” He asked pointing to the undercarriage of the man chicken and the back of the woman chicken. “How big dat?” He asked.
“About eight inches,” I answered with a chuckle. Mother-fucker was right. How the hell do chickens happen?
“S’impossible. No chicken has eight inch dick, man. No way.”
“No, you’re right,” I agreed my voice high with agreement and surprise. We both looked at his drawing. I tilted my head to the side, as far as it would go. “Maybe if you turn the woman chicken upside down?” I offered but it was a weak suggestion. Enrique opened his drawers again.
Enrique did closing and opening Vs with his fingers. “Zig-zags.”
“Oh scissors. If we have scissors I could…”
Paula knocked and opened the door. I turned. Enrique didn’t have to. He was facing her.
“What are you doing?” She asked. She was annoyed. We’d been ages.
“Hey, how do chickens fuck?” I asked her. She removed her head and closed the door. We went back to Enrique’s drawing. “Maybe they back into each other?” I said drawing my hands together.
“No,” said Enrique. “No possible. Need a back dick for dat.”
We sat there for another few minutes looking at the picture until I broke the silence. “I better get back out there,” I said to my boss. He was staring at his picture and nodding. He tilted his head. “I better get back out there,” I said again. I clapped my hands onto my thighs and then got back out there.