copyright © 1986 Todd Ristau

Chicken Sunday

Right, now that you mention it, there was this one kind of day where this one kind of thing happened that got me spooked that way. You know, that one kind of way that reaches up through your asshole, grabs you by the tongue, and pulls--so you just standin’ there all inside out and waitin’ for the co-mercial interuption...

It went down like this, see, I was up a the Goodwill, you know, that one up there on Ashland Avenue in Chicago. I was up there of a Sunday ‘cause me and my firends that’s where we like to go of a Sunday because Sunday if free chicken dinner day down at the Goodwill. Now, I’m standin’ there in line next to my man Ray. Sting Ray, we calls him. And old Ray, he be needin’ that free chicken dinner real bad, even worse than me. Ray, he a very thin man to begin with, but I know that in the last two weeks before this particular Chicken Sunday, he done dropped him ten pounds. Anyway, he’s in a hurry to get him his food, and he keep talkin’ all kinda shit, but he always come back around to talkin’ chicken. He got so caught up in his chicken talk that he don’t notice when this bunch of little kids come in. Well, I thought they was little. These kids come in for their chicken too. Now, a bunch of kids like this come into the Goodwill for a meal, if you’re smart you let them get in front of you, get their food, and hope they leave just as soon as they finish eating it.

Well, I guess lack of food make you stupid, because when these boys cut into line, old Ray, he go up and complain to this little Korean security guard that’s sittin’ down by the cash register. The guard, he pretend he don’t speak no English--ha! Right, he’s just trying to save Ray’s ass. Ray, he come back into line and he don’t say nothin’. Just stands there lookin’ hungry and pissed off.

Well, its all still cool, but those boys be doin’ some fancy hand signalin’ back and forth now, they’s laughin’ and actin’ tough....all ‘cept this one kid. This one nervous lookin’ kid, and he get something all wrong and the others, they start to figure out that nobody knows this guy...that’s when the room just goes stone quiet. Us in line thinking "here it comes", them boys in the club thinking, "here it is", and that nervous kid thinking "there it went."

It stays quiet for maybe four heartbeats, and then it hits--GANG BANG!

That little Korean secruity guard goes running out the door like a shot, trying to pull his gun out as he goes. From out of nowhere all these kids got chairs up over their heads and start to beat the shit out of that nervous kid. Some old lady screams, and like its a signal we all start to screamin’ and huggin’ on each other and heading for the door. Only its locked. That son of a bitch security guard locked us in with a fucking gang fight! I thought people were screaming before! Lord have mercy!

Well, I looks around for Ray, and I see he had run right straight for the kitchen, and I had to laugh, because nobody deserved that chicken more! Ray is down behind the counter cutting at them birds with a big kitchen knife and shoving big hunks of bird meat into his mouth, while all of us is cussin’ God and Ko-rea.

BOOM!! The back doors come flying open and these two big white cops come running into the rooms with their big assed guns out. The kids start to scatter, only there ain’t no place to scatter to, and now there’s even more hollerin’ goin’ on. That little Korean comes runnin’ in and I figure he’s had time to find his bullets and that gun he’s carrying might just be dangerous. He’s shouting, "Nobody move! We have guns! We are the police!!"

I see Ray get this "fuck you, ass hole" look on him and he starts to stand up like he’s going to tell the guy to drop dead. All that little Korean sees is this nigger coming up from out of nowhere with a mean look and a knife big enough to back it up.

Old Ray, he go down with a slug in his full belly. Ray is screaming real loud, hell, everybody is. Except the cops. They hear that shot and they think some of them kids must be carrying, so they start shooting and I see two of them kids go down bleeding more than I ever thought people that small could.

So, now you got people screaming eyes shut, or people screaming eyes open and lookin’ at them two boys, and the cops kicking themselves vecause it never was as bad as that Korean said it was, and thinking of the I just walk, plain as you please, right out that back door.

I ain’t seen Ray since. I don’t know if he died or no, just that he ain’t never been back to Sunday Chicken.



I am nearly postitive that Chicken Sunday is the piece I did at the very first no shame in the truck. Its the kind of piece that would get me to jump out of the truck even with a painfully removed wart on my foot. I wrote that piece in Aaron Johnson's basic plawriting class as one of my very first writing excercises--he'd said to take a story that was true and really happened to you and to at some point begin telling a lie, then to make that lie as big as possible, so that at the end of the story you couldn't possibly believe it, but the trick was to tell the story in a way that it would be nearly impossible to tell where the lie started.

I have a note in my date book that says "Bring Chicken Sunday to No Shame" on April 7th [1989]. I know that Brad Schnurr asked me to let him do that piece sometime, I think he was considering it as an audition piece, so this seems like a probable date for his performance of that piece. You could double check with him.

(answer, the lie starts with the first gun shot.)

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