One spring a hen of ours hatched out a brood of chicks and, as usual, all the chicks did just fine, running around making their cute little peeping noises. As the chicks started to feather out, there was one little fellow in the bunch that didn’t look exactly like the rest. Time went on and it became evident that he wasn’t at all like the others. He never grew a feather on his body. I used to think how lucky it was for him he was hatched in the spring, because it he had been a winter chicken, he certainly would have needed a sweater.
Our mother told us she had seen these naked chickens in her childhood. She and her brothers and sisters even named this kind of chicken: they called them “bings.” Family tradition was big in our family, so, of course, we named our nude chicken Bing. Sometimes we referred to him as The Bing.
As spring slowly turned into summer, The Bing got a nice even tan all over his scrawny little body. He was a sort of a free sprit and every now and then he would squeeze through a hole in our fence and walk through Dr. Carroll Brown’s back yard until he got to the sidewalk in front of Dr. Brown’s house. Then he would cut the block, walking home at a leisurely pace, picking at this or that interesting thing he happened to see, something nabbing a bug that wasn’t expecting a chicken to stroll by.
We enjoyed The Bing all summer. He was the most outstanding and personable chicken we ever owned. When he was taking one of his occasional strolls around the block, we could positively identify him as our chicken because as far as I knew, we owned the only nude chicken in town.
As well as I can recall, as summer slowly turned into fall, whatever was causing The Bing’s spectacular deficiency in the feather department began correcting itself, and this turned The Bing back into a regular chicken. What with going to school and football games and one thing and another, we lost track of him as he feathered out and looked like all the other chickens in the yard.
We were glad that he feathered out because he would have had a tough winter if he hadn’t, but we really would like to have spared The Bing the fate we knew was in store for him, if could only have recognized him. I don’t know whether he was converted into fried or baked chicken eventually. I never think of him like that. I like to think of that little chicken with the nice suntan taking a relaxing walk around the block. Even though many years have passed, I remember The Bing with fondness.