This is an excerpt from N. A. Kay’s newly published illustrated novel Chicken Butt; The Story of a Man, illustrated by Daniel Meisels.
The Fierce and the Faint of Heart
Chicken Butt – being a chicken and all – was scared of many things; commitment, asserting himself, spiders, rodents, insects with more than two legs, household pets, domestic animals, public transportation, public restrooms, flea markets, grocery stores, supermarkets, almost all types of salads, computer games, video games, arcades, televisions, advertisements, colour printers, police officers, mothers, fathers, adults, children, babies, women, swivel chairs, load noises, republicans, democrats, independent parties, soldiers, spies, C.I.A. agents, F.B.I. agents, liquid and bar soap, hand sanitizer, watches, cherries, cherry pits, microwaves, sidewalks – in general, everything outside of his chicken-brain.
To be fair, C. B. wasn’t really afraid of everything. He wasn’t afraid of Velcro – he used to be, but he got over it.
But needles, blood, and blood tests scared him most of all. He would do anything to avoid them. His rationalization for not taking vaccinations was that they do more harm than prevention. Vaccines work by injecting one with a small amount of the virus one is hoping to prevent, having the body fight it off and developing a tolerance. Therefore, C. B. reasoned, that by taking it one increases their chances of catching the virus in the first place. And so Chicken Butt hadn’t had a vaccination shot since he was eight.
Trypanophobia is so rampant that it is estimated to have ten percent of Americans petrified of inoculations. Hemophobia is estimated to be just as common. C. B. had both.
One day, Chicken Butt received a phone call from his doctor; they had finally caught him. They informed him of the appointment date and that he required a booster shot and a blood test.
And so, being weak in general, C. B. slunk to the doctor’s office to face his fears. He sat down in the examination room waiting for the sting of the shot. Tears swelled up beneath C. B.’s eyelids; he held them in like a real man. Afterwards, C. B., feeling triumphant, got up from his seat and proceeded to faint like a first-class pansy.
When Chicken Butt finally recovered, the doctor was pretty stirred up. He told the nurse to take C. B.’s blood pressure, give him something to drink and get him the hell out of his office. She began to pump the manometer when C. B. decided to pass out again, and tumbled awkwardly on to the floor.
The doctor hasn`t seen him since. A man fainting from a needle and a simple blood pressure test is pretty chickeny, but, for C. B., it was part of his makeup – his nature. He was, after all, a giant chicken. But even for a chicken, it was a little on the pathetic side. And this wasn’t the only time C. B. had fainted: he’d fainted after stitches, in a biology class when the teacher described heart palpitations in detail, he’d fainted watching a pro-vegetarian movie entitled The Slaughter House and once he’d blacked out from standing up too quickly.
C. B. walked out of the doctor’s office feeling quite distraught. How could he have fainted? He was so manly and masculine. How could he have fainted, twice none the less? Due to the extreme feebleness of the incidents, his ego removed the self-doubting questions from C. B.’s conscious mind.
But don’t think that the story ends here. This would be where the story would end for a normal chicken, but, for a giant chicken like C. B., it continues – climaxing in the most dreadful of manners. Well, not really, it just keeps on getting more pathetic. If you remember, Chicken Butt still required a blood test. So guess what Chicken Butt decided to do to deal with this up and coming blood extraction? He hired a psychologist to work with him on confronting and defeating his phobia – five hundred dollars an hour. That’s right, he sat with a psychologist once a week and discussed needles, blood tests, and blood in general. He had Chicken Butt draw pictures of needles, then he brought needles into the room, he had Chicken Butt look at the needles, then touch the needles and then hold the needles.
Six excruciating months and twelve thousand dollars later, Chicken Butt’s psychologist thought that he was ready. Chicken Butt had not learned much during the sessions, but the psychologist felt that if he could hold a needle, he was ready to face his fear. Chicken Butt agreed even though he still felt a tad faint with the thought of his blood pulsating through his veins. The psychologist and C. B. went to a new doctor and explained C. B.’s condition. No, not that he’s a giant chicken, that he was homophobic and trypanophobic. The doctor graciously agreed to take the blood sample; he didn’t fully understand the risks involved.
Chicken Butt awaited the inevitable – he listened to his music, tried to relax taking in deep breaths, slowed down his heart rate by counting down from ten and imagining that he was somewhere else. The doctor tied a rubber strip around Chicken Butt’s bicep; C. B. felt the blood begin to pulse within his veins. He started to struggle as he saw the needle, he shouted and screamed, but his psychologist was there for him and pinned him against the chair. “Done.” The doctor said, relieved it was all over. His psychologist wiped the perspiration from his forehead with his sleeve, glad it was over too. C. B. sat in amazement; it had taken all of three seconds. Chicken Butt was enraged. He began screaming, this time not for pity or escape, but with vengeance towards his psychologist. He felt betrayed.
It was all over, but C. B.’s ego couldn’t leave it as it was. The test was over – he could have just walked away from it all with some dignity. Instead, he went to town on the doctor and the psychologist for about fifteen minutes, until he was fully red in the face and completely ashamed. He slunk out of the office as pitiful as a man gets, and, just as the story should have ended on a note of mediocre dejection, C. B. fainted.
Glossy News has been granted permission to publish a total of four excerpts each Saturday for a month. Check N. A. Kay’s archive page to see everything published so far.