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Feather duster


I look up at Pedro, my face tilted to one side. He strokes the feathers on the back of my neck, fiddles with my crest, and gently caresses the softness between my eyes. I love it. He has done it since the day I hatched.


‘Very soon, you will be the champion of our beloved state of Hidalgo, here in Mexico.’


I understand him, but I cannot speak. I flap a wing. I want to say, 'No, no, please. I don’t want to fight again.' After the last fight, when I nearly died, he told me I would live out my days with my favourite hens, Maria and my cheeky little Isabella.


‘Don’t worry, amigo. You know what to do.’ Proudly, he shows me a pair of shiny and sharp, long metal spurs. ‘You’ve done it many times before. Attack his face until he is mad and comes at you. His beak can’t do much. Then you jump as high as you can and drop onto his back. These spurs will do the work for you. They'll slice through him. You win, he dies.’


I hear a crowd of men outside. They're laughing and cheering, ready to watch me fight to the death. I have already seen the enemy. He is young and strong, and I am old, and weaker after too many fights. I can no longer jump so high. My heart races. Enough! I think. Pedro jumps back a little, surprised as I thrash my wings. I swivel my neck, peck, and draw blood from his hand.


His friend Carlos calls out, ‘Dos minutos’. Pedro is in a hurry and squeezes me upside-down between his thighs so I cannot move my wings. I stop struggling. He fixes the first spur to my left foot, then the second to my right. ‘Steady, Champ. You’ll be fine.’


Pedro trusts me again and relaxes the pressure of his thighs but, in his hurry, soon finds that was a mistake. I lash out with my feet. A spur does its work for me and pierces his groin. All I can see is blood. Pedro screams and kicks me away into a corner before he drops onto the floor. I am too injured to move.


Men surround Pedro, wanting to help. They carry him away. I can see he's not long for this world.


But nobody cares about me. I just want to live back home with my hens.


Carlos is threatening me. ‘What shall we do with you, you bastard? You’re still dangerous.’

I can flap my wings a bit, but I can’t jump, walk or fly. He takes a knife from his pocket and cuts through both my ankles to remove my feet, along with my spurs. Piercing pain – and then just numbness. He lifts me by the lower neck with one hand while, with the other, he twists my head further and further. How long can I last? My only thought is the memory of my good times with Maria and Isabella.




Copyright: text Roger Guinery; photos Pinterest & Wiki.





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