As an antidote to endless Christmas recipes (guilty as charged) I offer you: Vandal and the Vampire Chickens.
This bit of doggerel arose from a long-ago Facebook photo of one of our cats, Vandal, stalking the hens. But I mis-typed the caption and said he was staking them: cue much FB hilarity and jokes about vampire chickens. One thing led to another and I wrote this.
The lovely illustrations are by the multi-talented Jamillah Knowles, who also drew the Mrs P cartoons for my avatar pics. I think she’s got Vandal and his long, patrician, Siamese nose down to a T. Thanks, J.K.
Mrs Portly will be back after Christmas.
VANDAL AND THE VAMPIRE CHICKENS
(With apologies to T.S. Eliot)
To his cowed and beaten enemies he is quite above the law;
He’s been known to kill a nightingale for the secret of its floor
And his victims never hear him as he slithers through the door.
Vandal is part Siamese cat, he’s very long and slim,
His eyes are green, his fur is black, no poncy ‘points’ for him.
His purr is hushed, his wants are small, but just to keep in trim
He likes some chicken once a week, a breast, or just a limb.
The hens that live in the back yard he knows are there for eggs
But surely they could still do that and not need all their legs?
The ninja cat would case their joints and just ignore the hex
He’d heard had been put on the hens and hung around their necks.
He waited until darkness fell and then he ventured out
He couldn’t see the chickens but he was not in any doubt;
With silent paw and claw and jaw he’d put them to the rout
And soon their feathered corpses would be lying all about.
But what was this? A saurian eye gleamed redly from the shed
Where the hens should have been roosting, a-sleeping in their bed.
The clock had passed the midnight hour: imagine Vandals’ dread
When he saw the feathered fiends had fangs – for the chickens were undead.
Some weeks before Count Duckula had risen from his grave
And fallen on the harmless hens to find the blood he craved.
They fought and fled and squawked and bled and not a one was saved
And now they’d risen in their turn. Poor Vandal felt less brave.
With a flock of vampire chickens all thirsting for his blood,
His teeth would not avail him, his claws would do no good,
He couldn’t stake the hellish hens – he hadn’t any wood,
But Vandal’s wits were quite as sharp as any vampire fang
And from a tree above the hens the kitten’s voice soon rang.
“There’s not much meat on me,” the kitten told the ghastly gang
“And frankly you will find my blood has quite a nasty tang.
“But stick with me and I will find an answer to your quest,
A sanguinary source of food just inches from your nest.”
The hens all clucked with interest, fresh hope rose in their breasts,
“Just up the road there is a farm, a home to battery hens
Who live out their short lives indoors, no sun inside those pens.
The darkness there would suit you and it’s run by heedless men.
You could turn the tables on them and decree slow death – by hen.”
The vampire chickens thought a bit and then they all agreed
That to feed on such a human could be seen as a good deed.
With no ado the vampire crew soon gathered what they’d need
To head off to the battery farm and assuage their bloody greed.
The ninja cat, who’d held his breath until he’d seen them out,
Had managed to survive the night and dodge a losing bout.
Though not the chicken dinner he’d hoped for from the out,
T’was better than donating blood to a desanguinated lout.
He went back through the cat flap as silent as he’d left,
And his humans woke next morning to find themselves bereft
Of any sign of avian life. They blamed a fox, “so deft”,
He doesn’t talk about that night. You’ll never hear him whine;
He sees his feat as a defeat but he’s not one to repine.
Yet should you ever ask him round to join you when you dine
If you ever offer chicken – then he’ll courteously decline.
All words and pictures copyright Linda Duffin and Jamillah Knowles, 2014/2015. All rights reserved.