“Well, what about the goose? What do you know about him?”
“That’s an interesting story,” said Rosie. “You know, Winston and Alfred were friends when they were younger. They used to spend a lot of time together. Then apparently, about the time Winston became chief rooster, Alfred went mad and went off to live alone.”
“What made him go mad?” asked Sonny.
“Well that’s the thing,” said Rosie. “The only ones old enough to remember are Winston and the old brown hen, and neither of them will say. I tell you what though—the old brown hen doesn’t like the goose being here. Have you heard the things he’s been saying? He really is mad. The old hen says Alfred was acting the same way just before Winston became chief. She doesn’t like it.”
“Have you talked to Alfred?” asked Sonny.
“Yes,” said Rosie. “You really must go see him. He’s a little strange, but so funny! I’ll come with you if you like.”
It was late in the afternoon when Sonny and Rosie went behind the henhouse and down the hill toward the pond. Alfred was there, with two young chickens that had already come to see him. He was a comical sight, waddling back and forth in his wiggly fashion. As he constantly talked, at times to the chickens and at times to himself, he waved his wings around. Sonny stopped and sat down a small distance up the hill from Alfred; Rosie joined him. He wanted to listen to what the mad goose was saying before meeting him. This is what he heard:
“I’ve seen it before… I told you that already. Yes, I told them already. They don’t listen. You young chickens must watch! See what is around you! It’s right there… I’ve seen it before. Ha-ha! The sky is different… but that’s okay—we are not in the sky. I can fly but you cannot—yours is the greater danger. Yes, and when I’m in danger it will be too late for you. Ha-ha! Don’t you see? I lost my friend. Ah, they don’t see. There is no point, but I must try. Will it be the same again after all this? Is it a circle? I like circles, but I don’t want to be in one.”
Sonny looked at Rosie. “He’s insane,” he whispered.
Rosie smiled. “I told you.”
“Eggs!” cried the goose. “Ha-ha-ha! I had no choice. There’s no choice. We are born in a circle. We peck ourselves free from the egg, but how can we peck free from this? Day in, day out, it’s the same. Eat, fly, swim. Wake up, and then go to sleep. Wake up? Wake… wake? What if… that’s it! Ha-ha! What if the old rooster didn’t crow? Ha-ha! What if the old rooster didn’t crow?”
With that thought, the mad goose stopped in his tracks. He didn’t move; he didn’t make a sound. He stared out across the pond with a blank look on his face. The two young chickens that were listening to Alfred tried to get his attention, but he was oblivious. With their afternoon’s entertainment apparently suffering some sort of malfunction, the young chickens just laughed at him and returned up the hill to the henhouse. Sonny and Rosie waited a while before going down to see Alfred. When they did go over to him, he was just starting to reanimate. The glazed look lifted from his face. He shook his head suddenly, gave his wings a gentle flap and began mumbling to himself. As Sonny and Rosie neared him, they heard Alfred repeating quietly, “What if the old rooster didn’t crow?”
“Excuse me, Alfred,” said Rosie gently. “It’s me, Rosie. I’ve brought my brother to meet you.”
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