Lil G

A consequence of living in a small town, especially a southern one, is that things that might seem odd in other places are just seen as being normal.

We’ve lived here long enough that there are some weird things that I tend to forget about. It’s only when it comes up in a conversation and the discussion comes to an immediate halt, and the out-of-towner goes, “Whoah, whoah, whoah— you need to explain this.”

This happened the other week during a video chat with my best friends from college. We were taking turns describing how we’re coping with the quarantine, and the topic wason Abigail’s new chickens. Some exercise, some drink, some Netflix; Abigail buys chickens. We were listening to her give an incredibly educational description of which breed she preferred when I said, “Oh yeah, that’s like the guinea hen that lives at the Popeye’s on the boulevard.”

Enter the “Whoah, whoah, whoah—”

 

I first saw Lil G in the middle of a thunderstorm, while I was in the drive through Domino’s that’s attached to the gas station (you need to thicken your southern accent when reading this to get the best effect). I was pregnant at the time, and was working with a limited amount of brain cells. Three cars back from the pick-up window, a movement on the right side of my car caught my eye. Standing on a parking spot cement bumper was the strangest turkey/chicken/fowl I have ever seen. It’s as if someone put a turkey head on a hen’s body and then multiplied the size three times. And it was looking me dead in the eye.

Helmet-guinea-fowl
Lil G isn’t as pretty as this bird. A life on the streets has increased his girth and removed his naiveté.

To give more context, the gas station/Domino’s is on the Boulevard, which is the main business strip in our town. Think Lakeland Drive, Highway 31, or Highway 280, and shrink it, like, a lot. The only grass lives in the decorated spots of the Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Popeyes, and other fast-food parking lots. Even though most of our town in considered rural, the Boulevard is the epicenter of all the concrete, cars, and stores in town.

So seeing this mutant chicken standing in a parking lot, with rain pouring down, staring at me, was just weird. But remember, I was pregnant. And so I knew not to trust my eyes or my brain, so other than a grainy picture I took, my only other thought was to ask my OBGYN at my next appointment if hallucinating weird birds was a sign of preterm labor.

 

Luck would have it that I discovered the next week that I wasn’t hallucinating, or, at least I wasn’t this time. A random conversation with a local friend revealed that I what I had seen that day was a guinea hen, and his name is Lil G, and he lives in the tree in front of the Popeyes. Yes, that entire sentence is full of words not normally found together.

 

The local lore is that Lil G was in the back of someone’s pick-up truck at the Wal-Mart and he got loose. He ran so fast that his owners weren’t able to catch him, and apparently a loose guinea hen in the Wal-Mart parking lot in our town doesn’t illicit enough attention for anyone else to help them.

Somehow Lil G made it across the street and, with some cannibalistic irony, roosted in the lone tree in front of Popeye’s Chicken. This was three years ago. And, somehow, he’s thrived, because he’s really, really fat.

He doesn’t just stay at the Popeye’s all day, though. He usually walks between the C-Spire store, gas station, tire store, and multiple fast food joints. You’ll find proof of it on his Facebook fan page. He likes to watch people in the tire store waiting room, and walk between cars in the drive-thru’s, hoping to score something to eat. He’ll even sit in the under framing of the canopies above the entrances to the stores when he wants to get out of the sun.

I have to admit, if I was walking into the Popeye’s and glanced up to see a forty pound chicken demon staring at me above the door, I may loose my appetite. And if I told a worker what I saw, and got the response “Oh never mind him, that’s just Lil G!”, I may wonder at the sanity of the people in town.

But none of us are crazy, and Lil G is photographed like a local celebrity. He’s our own Loch Ness Monster…just smaller, and more southern. So next time you’re in town and craving chicken, fried or living, come on over to the Popeyes and meet Lil G.

 

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