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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison


‘Dinner is served,’ announced Derek to his two guests.

‘Excellent,’ replied George as he and Alison arose from the sofa and began to walk to the dining room.

‘It’s chicken,’ said Susan as the two couples sat down at the dining table. ‘I hope that’s OK?’

‘Just as long as it’s free range,’ said George, earnestly.

‘I’ve got all the documentation,’ Susan confirmed, reaching for a folder from the breakfast bar. ‘Her name was Esmeralda. She enjoyed the highest standards of rearing.’ Susan removed a photograph from the folder and passed it to George. ‘This is a picture from one of her holidays in Tenerife. She was also a personal friend of Jamie Oliver.’

‘Free range chickens are pretty expensive, though,’ reflected Alison. ‘Do you mind if I ask how much you paid for Esmeralda?’

‘Eight hundred and ninety-seven pounds,’ Susan replied, ‘although that included delivery and her pre-slaughter counselling.’ Susan looked puzzled for a moment and then turned to Alison. ‘If you usually bought free range chickens, you would have known the cost?’

There was a short, embarrassed silence.

‘You don’t buy free range, do you?’ challenged Susan.

Alison and George glanced at each other. In an instant they silently debated whether to confess to their oldest friends, and agreed that pretence was impossible.

‘It’s worse that that,’ revealed George, avoiding eye contact with his hosts. ‘We buy the super-cheap chickens.’

‘Super-cheap chickens?’ enquired Derek.

‘Chickens that are reared to the very highest standards cost as much as second-hand cars,’ George explained. ‘Intensively, but less humanely, reared fowl can be bought for a few pounds.’ He looked at Alison. ‘The prices really plummet when the birds have been,’ he restrained the increasing enthusiasm in his voice, ‘well… punished.’

Susan broke the ensuing silence: ‘Why would anyone punish a chicken?’

‘Do you have the Internet?’ responded Alison.

‘Yes,’ replied Derek.

‘Do you ever look at the S and M chicken sites?’ continued Alison.

‘What’s S and M?’ said Derek.

‘Well, it’s like when you’re spanking Susan,’ George replied absentmindedly.

Susan blushed and glared at Derek.

Derek and Alison glared at George.

Dinner was postponed as all four retired to the computer.

Derek and Susan looked on in amazement as disobedient chickens at received the mild though humiliating discipline they so justly deserved.

‘Some sites are more hard core, but we're not into that sort of thing,’ explained George. ‘There are lots of sites out there. Most sell off the chickens really cheaply when they’ve finished with them.’

‘They’ll usually dispatch them to your door, oven ready,’ added Alison.

Derek and Susan were initially appalled but, at the same time, felt strangely aroused.

Both were aware that some of the excitement had gone from their bedroom activities and that new inspiration was needed. The presence of their friends and the third bottle of wine somehow legitimised admission of their most secret and guarded fantasies about Gallus domesticus.

Also, Coq au vin would never again require a second mortgage.