Monday, March 11, 2019

Uzbekistan: Frank the Rooster

If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t actually alone while in an empty house, well I have too.  And on one such night, I wasn’t.  I was typing on my laptop in my living room when I heard a commotion coming from the windows behind me.

Not expecting to hear anything, my pulse quickened, and I wheeled around in my chair.  Perched on the window sill and staring me down, there was a rooster.

This was both concerning and fantastic, and I regarded the creature for a moment through the glass.  With his particular countenance and bearing, this guy looked like a Frank to me, and I dubbed him as such.  With introductions finished, I considered his situation.

Take a picture, Frank; it'll last longer.

The area behind my house, where Frank was hanging out, is a useless piece of land.  The space extends about four feet from the back of the house, and it is completely surrounded, on three sides by a twenty-foot-high wall and on one side by the two-story house itself.  It’s a narrow, deep, enclosed area, and I knew Frank wouldn’t be able to fly out.  The roof of my back neighbors’ house comes pretty close to the top of the wall, so I think Frank must have been climbing on that roof and then jumped into my backyard.  No matter how he got inside, though, he was trapped now.

I had seen people walking with chickens tucked under their arms before, and they seemed perfectly peaceful and manageable.  I thought I would give it a go.  My plan was to go outside, catch Frank, and walk him around the neighborhood under my arm until I found his family.  What could go wrong?

As it turns out, plenty could go wrong, especially for a city slicker like myself.  Frank, who had moments before been standing so proudly and almost defiantly in the window, went in full panic mode the moment I opened the back door and joined him outside.  He jumped out of the window and started running around the small yard, shouting and generally making a fuss, as I tried to corner him.  I got a hand on him a few times, but eventually he wedged himself under the back stairs.  In his hiding place, there was a small mud puddle, and his white plumage was now well and truly soiled.  Even if I could have reached him, it would have been embarrassing to walk a filthy rooster around the neighborhood.

It was time to regroup.  Frank was trapped and I didn’t want him to starve, so I poured him a bowl of Cheerios and left him for the night.

Then I moved on to Plan B:  I would walk around the neighborhood, without Frank, and try to find his home.

Unable to speak Russian or Uzbek, I’m unable to communicate with most of my neighbors.  I typed “Did you lose a rooster?” into my translating app, and with the Russian equivalent on my phone screen, I set out.

I knew Frank lived behind me, having heard him crowing pretty much all the time, but I wasn’t sure exactly which house was his.

As I walked to the end of my street, I counted my steps.  Then as I turned down the street where I thought Frank lived, I walked back an equal amount of steps.  This should have put me in the right vicinity.

I knocked on the door of the house to which my step-count led me, and a man answered.

I showed him my phone, and he shook his head.  Then he reached for the phone, and I gave it to him.  Failing to find a Cyrillic keypad on my phone, he opened a translation app on his own phone and showed me his screen.

“I have no cock,” was his reply.

“That sounds like a personal problem,” I thought to myself, and I continued on my search.

After knocking on six houses, I was no closer to finding Frank’s home.  I walked back to my house, and on the way, I ran into one of the people who lives a few doors down from me, who also happens to speak a bit of English.  I knew it wasn’t his rooster, but I told him the story anyway, just for kicks.

“Eat him,” he told me with a wink.

He was half joking, or maybe three-quarters, but I didn’t want to eat someone else’s animal.  And even if I had wanted to, I would still have to catch him, which wasn’t likely.

I checked on his bowl of Cheerios and went to bed.

The next morning, Frank was up bright and early, and since he now lived downstairs, his crowing was more obnoxious than ever.

Running out of ideas, I moved on to Plan C:  I submitted a work order through the Embassy’s Facilities Maintenance Unit for rooster removal.  As my request worked its way through the system, I told some of my Uzbek colleagues about the situation.  They all got a laugh about it, and every single one of them told me it was my right to eat Frank.

My friend Shabada especially enjoyed the part about feeding him Cheerios.

“Such luxury!” she mocked.  “He’s eating better than at his own home, and he definitely won’t want to leave!”

I guess she had a point, but I wasn’t exactly running a rooster Club Med.

When I got home that evening, Frank was gone, and the standard form from Facilities was on my kitchen table showing that someone from the unit had entered my house.  In the comments section of the form it read, “Done finded the owner.”

We don’t have an animal-control specialist on staff, so one of our other specialists – an electrician, a plumber, or perhaps a gardener – had remedied the situation.

My other colleagues were sure that whoever accepted this job from Facilities would just eat Frank, as I had been encouraged to do by so many people.  The next morning, however, I got proof of life.  My former roommate was merrily crowing from his usual location, muffled somewhat by the street or two buffer that was once again between us.


Unknown said...

Good thing he didn't come back, like a stray cat, looking for the yummy Cheerios.

Anonymous said...

Too funny!

Anonymous said...

Loved reading this! Best wishes to Frank, and to you too.

Aldo said...

As always, you tell a great story. I agree you would have been justified in eating him, and after all, who would know?
Good luck.

Eleanor White said...

In the peak of coronavirus in Boston, your funny story hit the spot --thanks and stay well! Eleanor

Anonymous said...

Have'nt heard from you for ages. Great story as usual - could only happen to you!Louise

Annette said...

Great story. After six years domestic living, a work order request for “rooster removal” was an unexpected twist!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the smile, Chris! Great story as usual and enjoyed reading it!