As with any theft, the worst part is the blow it deals to one’s faith in humanity. The chickens were in danger of being demoted from goodwill ambassadors to harbingers of doom, canaries in the neighborhood coal mine.
The sidewalk confabs reached a fever pitch. People were devastated.
A man with a neck tattoo shook his head and tut-tutted, “What kind of person would do something like this?” A woman in a church hat encouraged us to turn to God. Neighbors posted another sign: “439 Franklin misses Gertrude!” People scribbled commiseration. (“My son is sad! Find Gertrude!”) The crime was taken as proof of the decline and fall of civilization, and we found ourselves assuming the role of the comforter far more than the comforted.
Again, this is Bed-Stuy. Not Mayberry. Yet the response was more suited to a town with less in the way of a police blotter. Such dramatic emotional outpourings for a lost chicken seemed frankly disproportionate, since you can hardly walk a block in this town without being offered some tantalizing version of dead chicken….