Fried Chicken – Old West Style

Contributor: John Laneri

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Sheriff Matt Carson paused to let a horse drawn wagon clatter past then continued on, his steps taking him toward Aunt Jillie’s Boarding House, the finest establishment in North Texas.

“From the way you’re walking, it must be time for lunch.”

The Sheriff recognized the voice as that of Roscoe Sayers, editor of the Brazos River Weekly.

Turning in Roscoe’s direction, he headed toward the boardwalk, saying, “I didn’t know my hunger was so obvious. I must have been thinking about the fried chicken at Jillie’s. Today’s Wednesday, my day for chicken.”

In appearance, Roscoe was a skinny, little man with a balding head and bulging eyes.

“I've always liked fried chicken,” Roscoe said. “But, the little lady prefers I take my noon meal at home – says it’s good for my digestion.”

“There’s nothing better than fried chicken to soothe the digestion. In my opinion, Jillie serves the best southern fried in these parts. Her chicken’s hard to resist.”

Roscoe lifted an eyebrow. “I figured Jillie only served meals to her social customers.”

The Sheriff grinned. “Naturally, she likes to reward her patrons with a small lunch as a gesture of goodwill. But, she encourages everyone to visit… only charges two bits if you’re eating with your boots on.”

“Only two bits?”

“Yup… two bits. Noon timers cost two dollars more. If you’re hungry for southern fried, I’ll buy you a good meal.”

“Do you think my little lady will mind?”

“Not if you consider it an opportunity to do a story about good eating places around the county.”

A few minutes later, they stepped inside the boarding house and edged past a cowboy groping to a cute little lady then headed toward the dining room, a spacious area decorated Victorian style and set to the side of the foyer. Several gentlemen were already eating.

Once seated, Jillie moved toward them, smiling brightly. She was an attractive woman with green eyes, soft powdered skin and red hair cascading to her shoulders.

“Afternoon Sheriff,” she said with a flourish. “I bet you're in the mood for some of my chicken.”

“I’m always ready for your chicken,” he replied, reaching for a napkin.

She turned to Roscoe and cocked her head inquisitively. “I’m mighty proud to have a newspaperman visit my house. What brings you here Mr. Sayers?”

The Sheriff spoke up. “Roscoe’s planning a story.”

She moved close to Roscoe and nuzzled his ear. “You’ll find my house to be the finest in Texas. I like servin’ gents in a high-spirited manner.” She pointed across the room. “See that young girl with the yellow ribbon in her hair….”

The Sheriff quickly spoke up. “Roscoe’s not interested in your house as a house. He’s interested in your food.”

Jillie forced a smile. “Well, that’s different. Most fellows think my food is the finest they ever tasted. And, I offer desert, if you have a mind to get the sparks to flying.”

“Roscoe’s not here for the desert,” the Sheriff said. “He wants to sample the chicken.”

“That’s why I’m here,” Roscoe said eagerly. “I’m planning to do a story about good eating places around the county.”

He reached for a drumstick.

Jillie touched his hand. “Then, you’d best be reaching for a breast. They’re my specialty. I offer them, big and juicy.”

Roscoe smiled politely. “I like breasts too. But, I prefer startin’ with a leg.” He looked away to begin eating.

“You work the pieces however you see fit,” she said, pointing to the chicken. “But, fellows I know prefer to move in a particular order.”

“How’s that?” Roscoe asked, glancing in her direction.

“For starters,” she said, “Most gentlemen like to run their lips over a neck then ease toward a breast before movin’ on to the legs and thighs.”

“I prefer the legs first.”

“That fine,” Jillie replied. “Some fellows do prefer to move straight to the legs then head for the thighs, especially if they’re in a big hurry. But, they tend to miss some spicy parts by being too eager. In my opinion, the best way….”

The Sheriff spoke-up, “Jillie, leave the man alone. He knows how to eat chicken!”

She laughed softly. “I guess you’re right. I shouldn’t tell a man how to his chicken. Sometimes, I get too worked up.” She tapped Roscoe on the shoulder. “But, don’t forget my breasts. They’re much better than those dried-out kinds some people offer.”

Roscoe watched her move away then turned to the Sheriff. “Was she talkin’ about fried chicken?”

“Hell if I know,” the Sheriff replied. Jillie likes to keep people guessing. So… what do you think of the food?”

Roscoe shifted in his seat. “It’s not spicy enough for me.”

“Sometimes the spice is hard to detect,” the Sheriff said, as he indicated across the room to where Jillie had stopped to lift her skirt and adjust a garter. “Check out her legs.”

Roscoe looked away to study Jillie's legs. After some time, he turned back to the Sheriff. “They remind me of drumsticks attached to nice thighs.”

“Like I was saying,” the Sheriff replied, smiling happily. “Wednesday's my day for chicken.”

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John is a native born Texan living near Houston. His writing focuses on short stories and flash. Publications to his credit can be found on the internet and in several print edition periodicals.
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