Friday, September 18, 2009

A Vegas Show Chicken in the Underbrush

Wendy Lyn Watson writes delicious mysteries with a dollop of romance. Her first cozy, I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM: A MYSTERY A LA MODE, will be released on October 6. To pay the bills, Wendy teaches constitutional law to college kids. She’s also an avid fan of 80s music, horror films, and (of course) ice cream. You can find her on the web at http://www.wendylynwatson.com/

When I first contacted the Stiletto Gang, this whole blog thing sounded like a good idea. I mean, everyone’s doing it, right? How hard can it be?

Ha!

Let’s face it, y’all are strangers. You don’t know me from Adam. This is my chance to make a first impression, and I better make it good. So what to say? About 93 different topics came to mind, and they all sounded totally stupid. Or brilliant. But probably stupid. I was paralyzed with indecision.

So I asked the universe to send me a sign, and it did.

With a leisurely Labor day afternoon ahead of us, Mr. Wendy and I headed to the 380 Greenbelt, a rather utilitarian Texas park that meanders along a trickle of water that one might call a river (if one had never seen a real river before). We parked the Family Truckster; schlepped across the tarmac like the boring middle-aged couple we are, Mr. Wendy toting a folding chair in each hand and me clutching a plastic grocery bag with some almonds, a couple of diet sodas, and our paperbacks; and set up camp in a little plot of shade right at the edge of the sad tributary and away from the other park-goers.

We had just gotten settled in, Mr. Wendy dozing in his chair, me munching on the almonds, when I heard a rustling in the underbrush behind me. I looked around, expecting a squirrel, or perhaps an armadillo. Imagine my surprise ...

I asked the universe for a sign, and it sent me a chicken.

But not just any chicken. This was one of those fancy chickens with an absurd explosion of feathers sprouting from the top of his head and a cascade of snowy plumage springing from his backside. This was a Vegas show-chicken.

Strike that.

A feral Vegas show-chicken.

I couldn’t help wondering, “What’s his story?” Was he lost? Had he escaped some chicken gulag? Why did he limp? Did he have chicken friends in the park? Or was he flying solo, one chicken against the world? Was he scared of the people who wandered past him, carrying kayaks and blaring boom-boxes? Or did he hope that one of those people would scoop him up and tote him back to civilization, give him a nice shady coop where he wouldn’t have to worry about coyotes or his next meal? And what would become of him? Could such a fancy chicken possibly survive in the wild?

Some writers--indeed, some of my favorite writers--write about exotic people in exotic places doing exotic things. I, however, am drawn to ordinary folks living ordinary lives in Everytown, America. Like the heroine of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. Tally Jones is a small town divorcee, struggling to keep her ice cream parlor afloat and her rag-tag family out of bankruptcy. On the surface, her life is perfectly normal, but unbeknownst to her the people she’s known her whole life are harboring secrets. Those ordinary people are capable of both heroism and treachery, and Tally has to learn that bad guys don’t always look like bad guys.

That nice elderly man who fed his wife rat poison? That high school tennis coach who gave a kidney to one of his players? That soccer mom who made a million bucks by stripping in front of a webcam? Those are the stories that really affect us, because they come out of the blue. They sneak up on us, ambush us, and force us to question our assumptions about the world we live in.

So here’s my advice to you: keep your eyes open. You never know when you’ll stumble across a moment of mythic drama right smack in the middle of your grocery store’s produce aisle. Or a brilliant bit of poetry on a bathroom wall. Or perhaps a Vegas show-chicken rooting around in the underbrush.

Wendy Lyn Watson

15 comments:

  1. Glad I'm not the only one who asks the universe for signs. I'm totally disappointed that I've never gotten a Vegas show chicken though. Love the book premise. Can't wait to get my copy!

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  2. Thanks P.Kay and Tracy ... old friends and new! Even better than an unexpected feral chicken. :)

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  3. Did you ask it why it crossed the road? Or which came first? Or perhaps, momentarily dazzled by its sequins, stilettos and (of course) feathers, you were content to be visited by the muse. I prolly would be, too. Never knew She was a chicken!

    Congrats on the release, Wendy. It sounds like a hoot.

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  4. Trust me...I never expected to make a million dollars stripping in front of a web cam. Maybe a 1/2mil... (Just kidding!)

    Wendy, thanks for a great post; it's always good to laugh out loud this early in the day! Best--Maggie (Murder 101 series)

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  5. An escape show chicken! I love it. I hope someone caught it and took it home.

    Congrats on seeing your book in print! I am looking forward to the release, it looks and sounds like a lot of fun.

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  6. What a great post.
    Congratulations on I Scream, You Scream.
    I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.
    And I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for my own Vegas show chicken, too! You just never know what's around the next corner. : )

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  7. Wendy-

    Fantastic post! And I can't wait to read I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM - I've been looking forward to this since you shared your sales news with DARA.

    On the subject of the chicken....I can't honestly say I ever pictured Vegas-variety chickens, but now....well, I'll make sure I keep my eyes open. It's obvious you just never know when greatness will appear in your path!

    Addison

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  8. Thanks, everyone!

    And I have to admit, I made Mr. Wendy a little crazy that day ... I was definitely tempted to try to capture the chicken and take him home. (Hey, people pay good money for fancy chickens, and this guy was *free* -- so he had a little limp and he was a bit dusty, he was still a perfectly good chicken!) Mr. Wendy had to be the voice of reason, as he so often must be.

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  9. I guess the show chicken decided he wanted to be a "free range" chicken. I enjoyed this blog very much - wish I knew what happened to the chicken.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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  10. Hey, Wendy! What a fun post! As a former Texan (Dallas and Houston) and a fellow fan of '80s rock (Ooooh, Def Leppard!), I'm looking forward to reading your book. Are you taking the chicken on tour? Maybe it can sing "Pour Some Sugar on Me" in the background while you do a reading. ;-)

    Cheers,
    Susan McBride
    Stiletto Ganger

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  11. Oh, man! If I could lay hands on a rocker chicken, Mr. Wendy would have no choice ... That would be amazing!

    Rhonda - I'm already trying to figure out when I can sneak in a trip back to the park to see how the chicken fares. I'll be sure to let you know. :)

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  12. I share the Vegas chicken's excitement at the news of your book's release. I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of my very own.

    Marty

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  13. What chickens happen in vegas...oh nevermind. Great post, Wendy

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