Last thing puppy saw
In this column's celebrity news division I have to note a lawsuit being served on Steven Seagal, who is accused by plaintiff Jesus Llovera of arriving at his (Llovera's) home in a heavily-armored police vehicle and dispatching his young dog's soul to that big newspaper-lined box in the sky by shooting it.
Llovera was raided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's department because he was suspected of running a cockfighting ring. Over one hundred suspected chickens also died in the raid. Segal took part in the raid because it was being filmed for his reality TV show, "Steven Seagal—Lawman," in which he dons the uniform of Maricopa County, Arizona and teams up with fellow celebrity bully Joe "Sheriff Joe" Arpaio to introduce mostly Hispanic citizens of the greater Phoenix area to a world of pain.
The action figure/martial arts master/silly little pony-tail sporting Seagal denied shooting the juvenile dog before lawyering up and refusing to make any further comment. The show, in which the deputy sheriff/wooden-faced performer/black-belt sporting actor gears up in macho police wear every episode (instead of the black pajamas he's favored in some of his films) and faces off against frightened immigrants, has not made public any raw tapes in which Seagal can be seen shooting puppies with the semi-automatic weapons he regularly carries on the program.
In defense of Seagal, it must be admitted that some puppies are born bad. This late puppy was eleven months old, often a turbulent age for a young dog, so it wasn't just a cute ball of fluff. It was a cute ball of fluff that might have been capable of putting its paws on your chest and licking your face, depending on the breed. The most important detail to my mind, however, was the presence of the one hundred now deceased fighting cocks.
A snarling, juvenile delinquent dog is one thing, but a vicious misanthropic puppy with a hundred killer chickens in its posse opens up a whole new dimension of threat. This I know because I once was matched up with a single homicidal rooster and although I survived, I remember the details of those dangerous moments well. The account that follows is by no means fictional.
The chicken in question belonged to a man who had been living with my then-girlfriend's daughter on his small farm in Maryland. Their relationship had foundered, partially on issues of fidelity and partially on issues of chicken. The bird had attacked the woman in question, as it would attack any person or beast that ventured onto whatever the evil unit of poultry considered its territory. It had jumped a seven-year-old girl and a grizzled hunting dog and driven them both from the field of battle. Its owner, in an attempt to save his relationship, had shot the fowl once with a .22, but the shooting hadn't had much effect on the bird's health. It merely disappeared for a few days and then returned, as strong and irascible as ever.
I was enlisted to help move the young woman's belongings from his home. "Watch out for the chicken," were the homeowner's final words as he left us to our emotionally charged task.
The move proceeded as moves usually do, long minutes of hauling, carrying and scraping furniture against doorways, followed by the discovery of a box of old photos and a half-hour break devoted to examining them. It wasn't until late in the afternoon that the chicken was first spotted, hovering on a far corner of the property, but eyeing the moving party balefully. It was a big bird, estimated by impartial observers to be about twelve pounds of implacable hatred. It hopped towards us on one leg, reaching out with the other to stab towards us with its free claw, an attack move that, were it to be given a martial arts name, might be called the Drumstick of Doom.
I assure you it is far more frightening to experience a chicken attack in person than to merely read about it on paper. That's why I try not to judge my fellow movers too harshly, for withdrawing the loading ramp and retreating into the safe interior of the U-Haul truck we had rented for the task. I turned to find myself alone on the grassy plain of destiny, a single knight on the wrong side of the moat and headed for a smackdown with the dragon. The rooster made a direct approach, coming towards me with its slashing talon upraised. It was at the last desperate moment that I spotted a plastic shovel that had fallen from one of the boxes. It was more than a sand shovel but less than an adult tool, about two feet long with a wooden barrel and a plastic blade and handle. Grasping it, I gave a two-handed swing right at the vicious fowl's beak, drawing blood.
The bird did not retreat, as I might have expected from a conscienceless avian that had already survived a bullet wound. It came after me again, seeking my blood with its remorseless claw. I swung the shovel beakward one more time, causing more hemorrhaging from the animal's face. My second blow with the Plastic Shovel of Pain started the chicken retreating, but it returned to wandering in the background with an expression on its bloodied face that made all of us careful not to turn our backs too long on the vicious bird while we finished up the move.
So I don't blame the fat-faced/B-movie-starring/steroid-user-looking Seagal for playing his hand against the Llovera criminal menagerie from the safety of a tank. If I had been trying to defend myself against a hundred homicidal chickens with my puny weapon, surely my bones would have long since whitened in the killing field of that Maryland barnyard. Since Seagal is no doubt going to have to low-profile the tank on future episodes of his show, he will have to face down his next poultry flock bent on manslaughter in the open.
If he wants, he can have my shovel.