Playing Chicken

Playing Chicken

John ate chicken wings until his heart blew up at the best table in the American legion. Pouring Pabst draft beer down his gullet that night as fast as sea water must have rushed into the Titanic, he only took a breath to shove one spicy morsel after another into his mouth until he choked and oxygen stopped circulating through his clogged airway.

His wife Jane jumped into action just like she learned at the YMCA CPR class, pounding on her hubby’s chest even before he slid off his chair to the dance floor. Trying to remember the cadence to the Bee Gees song, she mixed up the group’s hits and applied pressure to their first recorded song and not the theme song to the disco movie she watched every time it was on TV.

John didn’t budge. Neither did the chicken bone lodged in his throat no matter how hard Jane slammed her soul mate’s fat belly or how many times. That bone wasn’t going nowhere. John’s chicken wing eating days were over.

The bartender pulled a tablecloth over John’s head and kept serving drinks until the paramedics arrived. Three former Marines shooting pool said he had to keep up morale no matter who died on the floor.


Keep the juke box going, too, said a 75-year-old former M-60 machine gunner in Vietnam.

Goddamn, said the bartender, John never did that before.

Jane ordered a double tequila.

No, he didn’t, she said.