The Raid

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

Alf was very proud of his well bred chooks. He looked after then so well they were always plump and healthy. Living in a bush village as they did, where any scrawny chook was ‘fair game’ for the table, Alf’s fine flock drew looters like flies to a dung heap.

But Alf was a crafty devil and a clever mechanic to boot. He housed his flock each night in an impregnable fowl house with a door locked by a heavy mechanical Chinese puzzle, of his own devising, which only he knew how to operate. He had all looters bluffed – so he thought. Of course this set up presented an irresistible challenge to the looters, who themselves were pretty crafty and there would be much mana for any man who succeeded in collecting such plump prizes, so well protected too.

Alf was a keen party attender, he never missed a Saturday night party where by midnight he was always fairly legless and usually dozing. One Saturday night at a party, Alf was in this state when the looters got to him. They woke him up, told him they needed supper, they knew where there was a good flock of birds in a fowl house in the village seven miles down the valley.

“Lets go and get ’em’. Alf was a starter, he was always game for a bit of excitement. Out the looters went to their car, taking Alf, who they poured into the back seat. They drove around and around the village until Alf was back to sleep, then into his backyard, stopping beside his fowl house. They stood around and mucked about with the mechanical door mechanism, trying to unravel its mysteries, while Alf, just awakened stared and blinked owlishly at them. Suddenly Alf realised what the looters were attempting, comprehension of a sort, showed on his face and he staggered forward,

“Get out of the way, get out of the way, I’ve got one just like that at home, I’ll open it”, and he did. Plump chooks went into the sugar bag and they all took off in the car back to the party all in high spirits, Alf in particular, after all the raid had been a success due to his skill in opening the door. He kept reminding the others about that, while they kept congratulating him.

Two hours later the looters woke Alf so that he could participate in the very late supper, beautiful tender fat chicken pieces, which he ate with gusto and enjoyed immensely, proud of his part in the raid.

But, the food began to sober Alf up and besides it was by now almost daylight. The looters quietly left the party and kept a pretty low profile for the next four weeks because Alf was big and strong and had no sense of humour when it came to his chooks.