[The Ritual of the Chicken, 982 words, Genre: Mind Fudge]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Linda had been a chartered accountant for about five years now. She had been practicing as a chartered accountant and following all the rules and regulations. Over the course of her life, Linda had always followed all the rules, she had been doing everything right, she never broke the speed limit, she rarely drank alcohol and was what you would call an ethical and law abiding citizen. Every three months there was a gathering amongst all the other chartered accountants where they would share trade secrets, make connections with one another, have a party and social gathering amongst one another.
Linda had been going to the gatherings for the past five years, ever since she had graduated and became a chartered accountant. She liked all the people there and all the people there seemed friendly towards her. For some reason they didn’t talk to her much about work or trade secrets. But she was happy for the conversation and friendly smiles she received. She thought it odd that for a gathering amongst all chartered accountants, none of them talked about work. But she enjoyed herself at the gatherings and appreciated the chance to let her hair down amongst people who shared the same work vocation.
There was a game they would play. Game or ritual, what’s the difference? The game was that they would place a ribbon on the neck of a chicken and let it run away. If the ribbon with the person’s name fell off when the chicken ran away, then that individual would win a prize. By the end of the day the chicken would be covered with names of people who had lost the game. Whenever someone won they would shout out and announce, with glee, that they had won the game.
Linda never won the game. She would always wish and hope that she would win, but no matter how hard she wished or hoped that she would win, she never did. She saw other people win and it seemed like they had won the game almost instantly. She didn’t understand it. Linda complained to one of her friends, Amanda, who had won the game, about how she never won. She was always complaining to her. Asking Amanda if there was some sort of secret to it. “There must be a trick to it,” Linda inquired, “what’s the trick to it Amanda? What’s the trick?”
Amanda would simply reply, “Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.” And Amanda would continue to drink her beer.
After five years of attending the social gatherings that happened quarterly Linda went up and had another go of the game. The man who held the chicken, held the chicken firm. He told Linda, “Alright, now place the ribbon on the neck of the chicken.” Linda looked at all the names of other people who had lost the game. Being this close to the chicken, she could read all the names of those ribbons that hung on the chicken’s neck.
Linda did as she was told and placed the ribbon on the neck of the chicken. The man holding the chicken let the chicken go and the chicken raced off. The ribbon didn’t fall off. Once again, Linda had lost the game.
Linda went up and started complaining to Amanda about how she never won the game. Amanda had won the game before and Linda knew that there was some sort of trick to it. She complained and complained and wanted to know how to win the game. Amanda, by this time, was fed up with Linda’s complaints, and lost her shit and spilled the secret. “Look, you want to know how to win!?”
“Yes,” Linda whimpered.
“Just don’t do what the guy tells you. If he tells you to put the ribbon around the chicken’s neck. Place it around the chicken’s head. Let it run off and the ribbon will fall off. That’s how you win.” Amanda walked away, leaving Linda to think about it.
So Linda went up and decided to give the game another go. The man holding the chicken once again said, “Alright, now place the ribbon around the chicken’s neck.”
This time Linda did not do as the man instructed and placed the ribbon around the chicken’s head. The man looked at her and said, “Did you read all of the names?”
“Yes…” Linda replied timidly.
“Good.” The man said and he let the chicken go and the chicken ran off and Linda’s name fell off.
Linda jumped up and down in joy and called out, “Yes I won! I won!”
“Good,” the man said, “Now go to the safe house and collect your prize.”
“Yeah, take whatever you want. Remember, only take what you need.” The man pointed to where the safe house was and Linda followed his directions.
When she entered the safe house, she looked around. She was astonished. There were bags of cocaine, bottles of expensive spirits, bottles of rare vintage wine and all of these other rarities. ‘What the hell was going on!?’ she thought. She looked around and found a six pack of light beer. She wasn’t a heavy drinker or into any of the other stuff, so she decided to take the six pack of light beer.
She went out, back to the social gathering of all the other chartered accountants. When she got back, Amanda was nowhere to be seen. She looked around, kind of bewildered. She stood there, with her sixpack of light beer in hand. Then a man in his early forties came up to her, “Hmmm… So you got the light beer. I’m not much into any of that harder stuff myself. Anyway, welcome to the club.” And then he began talking about all of this information that he used to dodge tax reforms and exploit loopholes in the system.
Linda stood there in shock.