Big Billy – A game of chicken

Minnie came home from the grocery store one day a couple of weeks ago right around suppertime and near put me in shock because she got fried chicken for supper. No, I don’t mean the stuff the colonel makes – I mean the stuff they make right at the grocery store in their deli section.

She’s usually big on no junk food, but she was in a hurry because she was goin’ Big BIllyover Joan’s for club, and she didn’t have time to cook somethin’.

Well holy cripes, was the chicken ever good. We musta had about a dozen pieces of chicken and Minnie kept goin’ on about what a good price she got on it, sayin’ it was just a one-time thing.

Anyways, after about my fourth piece of chicken when my guts start feelin’ full, I start thinkin’ to myself. At that price, you could divide the chicken up, sell it as individual meals, and probably make some money for yourself. It was such a good idea, I could hardly believe I thought of it myself.

Now it just so happens my brother-in-law Cyril managed to pick up some work with a little construction crew. They needed an extra set of hands because they’re guttin’ an old house from top to bottom before the new owners move in. Them fellas start early, so Cyril wasn’t at Horton’s to have coffee with the rest of us the next morning. But afterwards, I stopped by the house where there workin’, and Cyril’s out in the yard on a smoke break.

So I tell him we’re in the fried chicken business now and he should see if he can get get some orders from his work crew for dinner that next day – $4 for a two-piece meal, $6 for a three-piece meal. He said he’d take a three-piece and then, right there on the spot, he went inside and came back out in about three minutes with seven more orders, all for lunch the next day.

Holy cripes! I was thinkin’ to myself. I might have to buy myself a white suit, grow a funny moustache and start talkin’ with a Kentucky accent.

Now this was at 9:00 or so I was there, and I told Cyril I’d be back at 12:00 with their orders. So I gumboot it to the grocery store, tell them how much chicken I need before 12 o’clock, and then go to the dollar store to buy styrofoam plates and tin foil so I had somethin’ to wrap them up in.

Anyways, I went back for the chicken right at 12, and then sat in the parkin’ lot with the chicken spread all over the seat of my truck, dividin’ it up into each order.

I get to the place about 20 mintues late, but I’m figurin’ that might be good, because they’ll be hungry and it’ll taste even better. So I get there and knock on the door and Cyril opens it and helps me carry the stuff in.

Come and get it, boys! He says. Homemade fried chicken, right from my sister’s kitchen!

I did a bit of a double-take. I never said it was Minnie who made the chicken, Cyril musta just assumed. In fact, if Minnie even knew about this, she’d be wild that I spent so much on the chicken in the first place just in case I got stuck with it.

I guess I coulda spoke up then and said Minnie never made the chicken, but I didn’t. The boys were tearin’ into it, and thinkin’ it was homemade made them seem to love it even more. They were only a few bites in and all of them said they wanted the same thing the next day.

So I get out to my truck and I’m countin’ my money – $25 profit. So the next day, I did the same thing. And the day after that. Each time, an extra $25 in my pocket – I was on my way!

On the fourth day, I realized I could probably make more money. By this time, the boys were callin’ it “Minnie’s Homemade Chicken” – every time they mentioned it. And of course, Minnie was still oblivious to all of it.

I arrived with my armloads of chicken plates. Sorry, boys, I said. Startin’ tomorrow we gotta start chargin’ a dollar more for each plate. I don’t like doin’ it, but ya gotta blame ‘flation.

Blame what? one of them said.

‘Flation? I said, not really meanin’ for it to be a question.

Four days in and you already got inflation? their supervisor Donnie said, and they all laughed. But they said of course they’d pay the extra buck, and they said add another three-piece to the next day’s order because another guy, Jerry, was out sick all week, but he’d be back the next day and they were sure he’d want some, too.

The next morning, the kids are gettin’ ready for school, Minnie’s makin’ some breakfast, and I’m sittin’ at the table, half-asleep, drinkin’ my tea, when we hear somethin’ pull in the driveway and then there’s a big knock at the back door.

Me and Minnie look at each other, confused, and she opens the door. It’s Cyril, the supervisor Donnie, and another guy I never seen before.

Without even sayin’ hello, Donnie nods toward the third guy and says – Jerry’s wife works at the deli counter at the grocery store, and she says you’ve been sellin’ us their chicken with the prices all jacked up.

But I told them! Cyril said. I told them, Minnie cooked that chicken herself. Tell them, Minnie!

Minnie looked at them and then they all looked at me. Cripes.

I agreed to give half their money back. And that was the end of my career in the chicken business. Good thing I didn’t buy that white suit, y’all.

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