Behind the Dialysis Center in the lawn, across from the Shoppin’ Bag that all of the cool kids in West Philly still call by its old name, Supremo, my boyfriend told me he saw a chicken. Just wandering around. It was Fourth of July and he had smoked a bowl, so I thought he meant those big turkeys that come back every summer. The wild turkeys we once saw a UPenn cop spend almost twenty minutes trying unsuccessfully to knock out of a tree. We always liked those wild turkeys.
You mean one of those turkeys?
No. A chicken.
Nah, it was probably a baby turkey.
But a few weeks later, I went to the laundromat near the Chinese food place I never go to and there was a rooster — his gait a clipped strut. Stopping. Peck. Peck. Peck. Then more strides, walking directly toward the back of the Restaurant School. Like a dare. Like a challenge. A rebellious rooster, tail feathers swinging like a popular girl’s ponytail in middle school.
We told our neighbors about him, the summer everyone sat on the stoop drinking Scotch from coffee cups filled with ice. We called him Pollo, a name we pulled from a comic we picked up from Locust Moon, the comic book store down the street where all the local kids would hang out. It shut down that same summer — Penn properties raised the taxes. The night of the closing party for Locust Moon, a young boy asked me What am I gonna do for friends if they shut us down? I bought him as many comic books as he wanted that night, because I couldn’t offer the friendship of a 31-year old woman to a 10-year boy and I couldn’t cry in front of a child.
Sometimes Pollo was in the lot near the mural, the one that has mosaic tiles on the building that caught fire in 2012. Right by our apartment Pollo would hide in the bushes and make chirping, dinosaur sounds. Whenever we walked past his hiding spot I’d grip my boyfriend’s side and hiss, It’s him! It’s him!
We kept listening for Pollo when he went missing. Swore we still heard him hiding in the bushes. Mourned when we thought one of the feral cats got him.
He reappeared a day in early October, running triumphantly across the seeded lawn of the same Dialysis Center. His tail feathers streaming behind him. But that was the last time we saw of him. Someone, maybe a neighbor or really any number of the people in the neighborhood we told about Pollo, swore he entered the opened door to the crumbling Christ Memorial Church. The one that everyone says is going to be rebuilt someday soon. That year Pollo made all of us believe in transmogrification.
JANE-REBECCA CANNARELLA is the editor of HOOT Review, a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, a cat lady, a contributing writer at SSG music, and a candy enthusiast. She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, attended Goldsmiths: University of London, Sarah Lawrence College, and is an MFA candidate at Antioch University. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website www.youlifeisnotsogreat.com. She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it, and she’s not wonderful at writing in the third person.