On the banks of the brooding Danube, Brkon was holding the condom wrapped message pondering over its meaning. What was its significance? In his alcohol addled brain he fought desperately for an understanding and the possible profoundness of its message. The streets, back alleys and loose women with reckless imbibing the plum slivovitz had taken their toll. He was overwhelmed by sadness and re-read the message ‘breed Leghorns’ over and over again. Bratislava’s morning lights were still twinkling in the distance. The distant roar of the casino’s ribaldry now dying out.
His only connection to Leghorns chickens was his beloved Nana who had some of those in her backyard on the outskirts of town. As our readers might remember, she also supplemented her meagre income from distilling slivovitz at the back of the cow-shed. In winter the shed held four cows which made her get up each morning at 4 am to milk. The milk she sold to the co-op which in return gave her butter, cheese and whey. It was a hard but simple life. Her husband had died many years ago after having wandered inebriated into the frozen forest. Even so, she missed him. He was good at splitting firewood for winter. He was found in spring, an empty bottle of slivovitz in his gnarled hand defiantly sticking up through the thawing snow like a signpost asking a forgotten God for some redemption.
Brkon’s thoughts dwelled on the good times he enjoyed as a child with his Nana. He especially remembered the brightly orange yoked Leghorn eggs she fed him as a child. He was still innocent and as pure as her lovely whey and curds. How did the innocence travel to the debauched without him knowing? Tears were now streaming down Brkon’s face. She held a special place in his heart.
He stirred himself into clambering up the Danube’s embankment and decided to visit her. The sun had broken through a difficult dawn but was now bathing the willows in gold and yellow. He made his way to her humble wooden cottage and noticed she had plugged the weathered logs with moss and a neat well stacked supply of fire-wood near the brightly red painted door. His spirit lifted already. She was overjoyed to see him, put on the coffee as she had done each time on his infrequent visits.
He confided to his Nana all that troubled him and she understood. “You are welcome here,” she said. “You can milk the cows, split the firewood and help stoke my ripe plums and watch the dripping results into bottles, cork them and make sure the money comes in.” “Deal with those customers owing me.” His Nana was no fool. You can sleep with cows and there is a comfy stead with straw mattress, you’ll be warm.” “You have slept there before, remember?” Also remember, “one sip and you are out.”
And that’s how Brkon became again, regained the sweetness of life. The Leghorns keeping him and the cows company. Even though he was within earshot of the bubbling tempting liquid. Never a drop again. He often wondered about his Nana making a bit of an earner from a liquid so beloved but also so bedevilled to many. He knew the answer! He withstood the agony of temptation year in and year out. He buried his beloved Nana behind the cow-shed when old age finally won out. She was a month over ninety four.
The leghorns kept on pecking.
Brkon too lived a life.