Those birds and their infuriating song, each note more piercing. It was worse when they stopped. Then Jed had to radio a warning.
“Low chirp alert,” he would call over the walkie talkie. “Low chirp alert.” The women, tired and hoarse in their feathered costumes, would start flapping their arms half-heartedly and take up the chorus again.
“It’s always haaaaappy at Flaaaaappy’s,” went the jingle, which they shrieked at passersby. They had not been hired for their singing ability. They had been hired for their willingness to stand on the sidewalk and wave people into Flappy’s for half-priced fried chicken while dressed as chickens themselves.
As Flappy’s Assistant Manager, Jed was in charge of Bird Pep. When he told them to dance, they danced, and when he told them to sing, they sang, but when he told them to stop crying they never did.
Personally, Jed found the campaign off-putting. The way the costumes worked, with the women peering out of the birds’ beaks, made it seem like the birds had swallowed them whole and they were peering out at Jed for help.
No one ever lasted very long at the job — two weeks tops — so he tried not to get attached. He had let one into his heart once, a particularly enthusiastic chicken named Kimberley.
He had been picking fake feathers out of her hair in bed one night when she’d pushed his hand away and looked at him seriously.
“If birds’ happy chirps and sad chirps sound the same,” she’d said. “Then how do you know how they really feel?”
Jed hadn’t had an answer for her then, but watching his newest chicken chorus, he knew what the saddest birds really sounded like.
Front page image by Anita Carril.
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