Winners and Losers
Le Coq walked up and down the route. There would be no repeat of last year’s debacle. Or, if it came to it, that of the before before. This year, the race would be conclusive. He strutted to the start line.
“Où sont les coureurs?”
The two teams brought their champions forward. There was much checking of laces. Legs were stretched. Sporting behaviour was called for.
“Un…deux…trois…” the starting pistol cracked flatly in the crisp, frosty air.
A nice, clean race was never seriously on the cards. This was a grudge match, and they’d barely gone 10 metres before the shoving started – neither party was blameless, neither party gave any quarter. They pelted down the narrow snowy path side by side, each trying to gain some advantage. If I can only get a little ahead, each thought, I can fly, I can win this.
Afterwards, each would blame the other, but in truth it was all but impossible to tell who stumbled first, who tripped the other. The result was the same in either case.
Le Coq strutted up and demanded of the officials on the finish line “Qui est arrivé en premier? Qui a gagné?”
The worthy gave an expressive Gallic shrug and indicated the heap astride the finish line like a collapsed colossus. Le Coq stared. Le Coq berated. Le Coq walked off in high dudgeon, gesticulating wildly and talking to himself. Once again, the chicken and the egg had managed to mess up this simplest of races. Once again, there would be no answer to the age old question.
© David Jesson, 2018
Cockerel in the snow
They’d been following him for hours, first through the busy traffic of the city, then at high speed down the highway. When they’d finally followed him onto the smaller roads, it’d been tricky driving. The snow had fallen heavily and the roads hadn’t been cleared yet, Matthew wasn’t sure they’d even been gritted.
That family car pulling suddenly out of a driveway in front of them had caused havoc. In order to avoid them, his driver had spun off the road. The mother had spun too and managed to completely block the road with her estate car, chock full of kids. She’d been hysterical, even though they were all OK, so Matthew had to send one of his men running back up the driveway to fetch her husband, while the rest of them pushed her car aside. As soon as he could see the husband coming, Matthew and his team had jumped back in their car to continue the pursuit.
But they’d lost him. They’d spent too much time messing around with that blasted woman and her kids. She’d driven straight out in front of them and all she could manage to say was “but there’s never any traffic on these roads” over and over again. Everyone was alright – no bumps, no bruises, and frankly the kids were calmer than she was. Thank goodness the husband had been home, or he’d have been stuck there all night while they waited for a female police officer to relieve them.
They came across his car suddenly. It was stopped in the road, for no obvious reason. The driver’s door was wide open and one of Matthew’s men jumped in to check. “Run out of petrol” he heard announced, as the rest of the team scanned the road around the car. Yes, there were the footprints leading away from the car. The team grabbed their coats, torches and thermoses from the boot and headed into the snow. They followed carefully, for they knew he was armed.
Until, that is, they heard shots and some shouting, when they threw caution to the wind and ran. The sounds had come from the direction of a rather run-down outbuilding and Matthew rapidly deployed his team around it to ensure both exits were covered. Having called ‘Silent Running’ to his team as they’d set off after the footprints, each member had put their phones onto silent and inserted an earbud, before moving off. All had voice-activated dialling enabled and Matthew was able to quietly check in with the other team “Anything?” “Nope boss, not a peep”.
Having waited a few minutes without further sound or movement, Matthew quietly announced “I’m going for a closer look.” As Matthew approached, he could see that the door was very slightly ajar, the lock having been smashed – they were clearly in the right place. Taking out his handgun, Matthew muttered quietly “I’m going in”. Pulling the door open, he winced as the old hinges creaked. Ever so carefully, Matthew put first his gun hand, then the rest of himself into the opening when he heard an unexpected noise. Stepping back quickly, he waited, for he could hear – very faintly – the sound of something moving. Then with a rush and a small flurry of feathers, a cockerel strutted out through the open door, and Matthew had to hold in the laughter.
Their man must be still inside. Breathing carefully, he started to make his way slowly back through the open door, when there was a quiet voice in his ear “Skip, that cockerel is leaving a bloody trail in the snow, but I don’t think he’s been shot.” Moving in with rather more confidence, Matthew found his man – slumped in the corner, bleeding heavily and drifting in and out of consciousness. Matthew relieved him of his gun which caused him to stir and say “bloody chicken … startled me … and my gun went off. I only bloody shot myself!”
This time Matthew didn’t even attempt to hold back – he laughed out loud. How could he not? A cockerel had gotten the better of their man – one of the most wanted in the country.
© Debra Carey, 2018