The Rooster by Kerry Headley

I love this funny little story by Kerry Headley.  She explains its origin: “I responded to the theme ‘Craigslist Roommate.’ Since I’ve had more than my share of not so sane housemates, it was easy for me to come up with something. In fact, it was hard to choose.”

See this and more great flash stories in Treehouse.


The Rooster by Kerry Headley

Ondine, the middle-aged lesbian with the chicken coop, the goose, and the incontinent dog, suggested I try martial arts the next time her rooster tried to kill me.

I’d moved in a few weeks earlier. When he realized I was staying, one of the roosters began charging me and pecking and scratching at my ankles. I walked to and from my car gripping a broom as a weapon. Because of his bravado and his thick neck of gold feathers, I called him Mr. T.

“I shouldn’t have to do Aikido to get into my own house,” I said to Ondine.

“That back talon’s like a scalpel,” Ondine said. “I once had one slice through my Achilles tendon.”

“That sounds like an injury that would cause me to miss work, which would make it difficult for me to pay you rent,” I said.

Previously, I’d lived with a man who used my razor to shave his face and another who dug the sponge out of the trash and returned it to the kitchen sink whenever I tried to throw it away. Another housemate told me she wanted to kill herself and her daughter because somebody’s mother had served soft drinks during a play date. “The world is too toxic for us,” she’d said right before I threatened to call the authorities.

Ondine seemed comparatively sane. She was a teacher. She took African drumming lessons. She collected hawk feathers and meditated.

It hadn’t occurred to me to ask Ondine if any of her farm animals were psychopaths.

Ondine bent her knees and slapped them, and then she adopted a defensive pose with her arms out like a football player. “You find your center, see?” she said. “Then use his energy against him.”

Ondine was still at work the day I hit Mr. T. with the broom hard enough so that he soared through the air the way I imagine athletes hope a football will, except with less grace and more screeching. I watched him flop into a stand of wild comfrey where he wobbled, momentarily stunned. “How you like me now, bird?” I said aloud, swaggering until I saw the goose giving me an ominous side-eye.

Ondine tried to keep my security deposit.

Her dog tried to jump into the moving truck with me.


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Categories: sample stories

13 Comments on “The Rooster by Kerry Headley”

  1. February 7, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Thanks for sharing my story! I’ve since learned that several people assumed it was fiction. I wish.

    • February 7, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Wow, the ink was barely dry and I was making a format enhancement when your comment arrived. In fact, I was getting ready to ping you with a link and make sure you approved. How did you know about the post so fast??
      Love your blog! I’ll try to do better about leaving comments. So much to read and so little time – you know.

    • February 7, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      The Internet is a miraculous beast. Also, I am revising my book, which means I keep all social media windows open at all times so I am available for multiple distractions. I haven’t checked out your site yet, but I will. Thanks for the blog love. Anyway, back to my thesis unless folding my laundry suddenly seems more important…

    • February 7, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      So glad my thesis is well behind me. Laundry is such a draw when writing a thesis is looming. Hang in there. :)

  2. February 8, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    The tale is interesting enough in itself but the way you tell it tops all. I chose to interpret it as deadpan humour and laughed heartily. Well done.

    • February 8, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      I had the same reaction, Mike. I laughed my way through Kerry’s entire story. And I chose it to feature this month because it’s such a shining example of flash technique, which is all in the way it’s told.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • February 8, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Thanks so much! I enjoy exploiting my pain for humorous purposes.

  3. February 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Oops. You’re being facetious aren’t you Kerry…

    • February 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      And also totally serious.

  4. galenpearl
    February 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    You had me with the first sentence! Very funny. I was reminded of a neighbor’s pet pig who would chase me down like that and even try to bang his way into the house. I was terrified of him! Great story!

    • February 12, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Thank you. The image of a pig banging on a door is also very funny. I’ve known horses who did that–to my house.


  1. Appropriating a Maya Angelou Poem in the Form of a Pun Seemed Inappropriate « Kerry Headley - February 12, 2013

    […] writers, I want to give a cyber-hug to FlashMemoirs, which posted my flash nonfiction story titled The Rooster. Check out this blog as well if you like very short […]

  2. This Week in Words – March 8 | Treehouse - March 8, 2014

    […] and teaches creative nonfiction in Seattle.  She also blogs at Flash Memoirs, where she’s featured past Treehouse contributor Kerry Headey’s story, “The Rooster.”  You can follow her on […]

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