On Thanksgiving, me, Amy and Chris assembled at the house of two married Peace Corps volunteers in nearby Lamen Bay. Their names are Pierce and Hannah. They're from Georgia and they're very nice. They both work at Epi High School. In Vanuatu, teachers are generally provided with on campus housing, so they live in a white man house and enjoy electricity part of the day. Pierce works in the computer lab, so he has access to a bunch of computer games and movies, though no internet.
Hannah is a rather accomplished cook. She'd promised to make chicken and dumplings for Christmas, that being one of my favorite dishes back home. So, Thanksgiving dawned brightly with the promise of white man food for the first time in what, by that point, had only been a few weeks. That morning, a Ni-Van from the school showed up with a bag. Full of chickens. There was a hole in one corner, and one of the chickens' heads was sticking out. He kept looking around and making noises and blibking his eyes.
"Oh, wow, how generous!" I must've gushed. "A new pet chicken! What a thoughtful early Christmas present from our new friends at Epi High!"
"No," she perhaps replied slowly. "That chicken's not here to live. He's here to die. And you're the one that's going to kill him."
Of course, historical purist would allege--correctly--that the conversation about the chicken didn't bear the slightest resemblance to the above dialogue. But I've decided to take some artistic license here to make it more interesting.
Anyway, there were two chickens and as the men of the holiday, it of course fell to Chris and I to kill those birds. Chris and I discussed several methods of execution. I wanted to chop its head off with my bush knife, but that idea was discarded as too messy. I now realize the wisdom of that objection, as my bush knife wasn't very sharp. We talked about drowning it or burning it, but those ideas were dismissed as too cruel, gassing it too impractical. Finally, we settled on the Ni-Van Method: grabbing the bird by its head and snapping its neck. That's what I'm trying to do in the above photo.
The murder of Chris' bird went off without a hitch. Mine...well, let's just say I hope PETA never gets wind of the tale I'm about to unfold.
As pictured above, I tried, diligently and with much enthusiasm, to slay the bird with a simple snap of the neck. I had to reach in to the bag and grasp his neck before whipping him and swinging him around like a mace. His head was really warm in my hands and I could feel him blinking on my palm. In retrospect, I wasn't using the correct, neck-snapping motion. But at the time, we all thought he was dead. Just to be sure, though, Hannah's neighbor--a Ni-Van presumably skilled in the art of chicken-killing--picked up the bird's--we thought--lifeless body and delivered a couple of karate chops to his back. He assured us this would ensure the bird's death. We now know this Ni-Van was as full of sit sit as the poor bird's intestines proved to be after we removed them later that afternoon and fed them to the pigs.
So, Hannah and I put the bird down and started defeathering him. His head was purple and on backwards. He'd have to be the Rasputin of the chicken world to survive all that. And indeed, it wasn't long before I saw some motion that oddly resembled respiration, faint but increasing.
"Hey, I think this beast is still alive!"
"Yes, that does look sort of like--"
Hannah never got the chance to finish that sentence because before she could, the chicken leapt up--it's head still on backwards and hanging at an unnatural angle--and, with a sqwak of rage, came charging right at me.
I didn't have to resort to any poetic license with that part of the story. Believe it or not, that's actually how it happened. You may be asking yourself if I have any moral qualms about torturing and murdering an innocent chicken just so I could have a delicious Thanksgiving meal. The answer to that question is an unqualified no. First of all, chickens are not innocent. They're sqwaking, pooping, abysmally stupid disease bags that crap all over my front "yard" and wake me up at 4:30 in the morning with all that incessant caw-caw business.
Plus, they were both delicious.