BOB KORNEGAY: Just couldn't pass the drumsticks

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Nothing like a long drive for some good intellectual repartee

Bob Kornegay

Bob Kornegay

Just couldn’t pass the drumsticks

My buddy Cletus and I were rolling down old U.S. 441, headed south after a week-long mountain-trout excursion. We were immersed in intellectual repartee.

“So,” I said, “You remember back years ago when they came out with those commemorative Elvis whiskey decanters? I found that very irreverent? I mean, Elvis’s mama probably turned over in her grave knowing her boy’s memory was being celebrated by the graven image of a Jim Beam liquor bottle. Helluva way to treat a king, I thought.”

“I know,” Clete replied. “Mentally disturbing, too. Heck, I had to pour mine into a fruit jar. Couldn’t bring myself to twist off the King’s head and drink from his neck. Plumb gave me nightmares to think about it.”

“I still have my bottle,” I said.

“Me, too,” said Clete. “Can’t find the head, though. Dang cat musta rolled it under the couch.”

It’s a pretty long drive back from the north Georgia mountains. Intellectual repartee bottoms out rather quickly after awhile. Just outside Commerce, I cut the discussion short by slamming on brakes.

There was an overturned semi in the road and, excepting two police cars, ours was the first vehicle on the scene. The truck and its flatbed trailer were on their sides, spanning the highway and both ditches. The driver stood on the shoulder, unscathed. There were no injuries.

Wait. Scratch that. About four dozen white chickens, part of the flatbed’s cargo, lay dead on the pavement. As nearly as I could estimate, there were about 14 billion survivors. And they were everywhere. Chickens in the road, chickens in the ditches, chickens up and down a nearby railroad track. There were at least a hundred in a woman’s yard placidly scratching in her caladium beds while she simultaneously attacked them with a broom. Funny how quickly chickens recover from trauma and get on with their daily lives.

I realize, of course, there’s nothing funny about a wreck. However, a horde of suddenly released chickens on a quiet Sunday morning in Commerce, Ga. is another matter altogether. Think about it. A lady in housecoat and curlers has declared war on an “army” of invading poultry. A poor truck driver is forlornly contemplating interrupting his boss’s Sunday (chicken?) dinner to tell him his truck and his chickens aren’t quite in the same shape as when he last saw them. Four small-town cops, who were expecting their usual light Sunday-morning duty, are suddenly dealing with a chicken deluge, a blocked highway, and miles of backed-up traffic.

Say what you will. That’s funny. To two involved parties, at least.

Clete and I began laughing hysterically and couldn’t stop. We couldn’t help it, especially after witnessing three of the loose chickens fly up and perch on the light bar atop one of the patrol cars. Tears flowed from my eyes and Clete slobbered like a rabid coon. The icy stares of the policemen indicated they didn’t share our jocular attitude.

“Boys,” one said, “I don’t wanna sound too harsh, but y’all are findin’ this situation way too amusin’. I ‘spect, soon as we get a way cleared on the other side of that ditch, y’all better be the first ones outa here.”

I nodded in reply and managed to calm down a bit. I didn’t think excessive laughter was grounds for arrest, but the cop’s face told me at that moment I might just be mistaken. That and the fact one hand was awfully close to the butt of his .38 and the other was clenched, white-knuckled, on my truck’s door handle. My thought of asking him his opinion of Elvis liquor bottles quickly vanished.

Eventually, we were routed around the scene and back on the road. Feeling a little remorseful over our recent flippant and unsympathetic behavior, we drove solemnly and pensively southward. In Madison I suggested stopping for lunch.

“Sounds good,” said Clete.

“Where?” I asked.

“Don’t matter,” he replied. (A little devil hopped upon my shoulder.)

“Only one appropriate place,” I concluded with a sideways glance at my pal.

I ordered “Original Recipe” and Clete got “Extra Crispy.”

If Colonel Sanders doesn’t intercede on our behalf, we might have to answer for that come judgment day.

Email Albany Herald outdoors columnist Bob Kornegay at Cletus@windstream.com.