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The Aroostook Roo Store

Rued the day of September 17, 2023.

My really, really big fish and I made landfall back in the States on Thursday. Unfortunately there are fifty, and my oversized fishy friend brought me to the wrong one—then swam off up a river before I had a chance to protest! I should have known salmon aren’t to be trusted. Grumblingly, I began the long, long march back to my home state.

Hours and miles passed. My hitchhiking skills were rusty in the extreme; no one would stop for me, although one motorist slowed down and hurled an empty Dunkin’ Donuts cup at my head. Again I rued wearing my doofus costume and goat-head hat on this jaunt, but what are you gonna do? I continued plodding westward across the barren desert that is the state of Maine, Bouillabaisse Boulevard my destination.

The sign above the store read, The Aroostook Roo Store. It was a homely little shop, a low-slung wooden building that was likely built before the motor car, before electricity, and even before Rory Calhoun stalked the Earth in his gallinaceous feather dress.

Much like my hitchhiking skills, my rooster back home was just as rusty. And who wants a corroded cock? Even though I was still thousands of smoots from home, I decided to check it out. Hopefully the roos that this so-called roo store sold were indeed roosters—not kangaroos, meadow rues, or Roose Bolton action figures. Hopefully it wasn’t just a ruse to bilk me out of my hard-earned rupees. And if it was, they would rue the day they ever met Pnårp!

I pushed open the door.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked into the roo store. If I had seen the “pull” sign, that would have saved me fifteen minutes of embarrassment, but that little oversight was neither here nor there now. What was here was a storeful of roosters—and nothing but! My own chicken-like eyes widened as I gazed upon the wond’rous sight: Aisles and aisles of roosters, rows upon rows of roosters, roomfuls of roosters, roosting roosters, roomfuls and rows of roosting roosters—as far as the eye could see and the beak could crow.

There were roosters from Russia and roosters from Prussia. There were roosters from Ruritania—roosters from Mauritania—even roosters from Tripolitania. There were ruminant roosters to replace your cows. There were roof roosters to mount on your house. There were unruly roosters making the most godawful crowing sounds. There were even ruderal roosters for your rubble heaps and mounds.

A single rugose rooster roosted atop a refrigerator at an end-cap display. The refrigerator was stocked with chilled chicken juice, hen soda, and something called “cock sauce.” The wrinkly old cock atop the display eyed me as I walked by, threatening to peck my eyes out if I got too close. What a rude rooster.

The store was full of all kinds of other cocks, too, but I’ve overspent my alliteration and pun budget for this week.

The air was alive with the mellifluous sounds of clucking, squawking, and unending crowing. There were no hoarse roosters in here. But, in the back room where the most exotic birds and bird–things were kept, next to the kanga-roosters, there was a six-foot-long horse–rooster: The perfect complement to a six-foot-tall man–squirrel such as myself.

For someone in desperate need of a new rooster, this was the store for me!

Worse luck though, all these roosters were priced in rubles, not rupees! My crore of rupees were useless here. And worse, Luck was peeing on my forehead again. I knelt and prayed to the great god Roostor—Gravitor’s brother—to provide me with some rubles but it was no use. Roostor would not come to my aid today.

That ruderal rooster did suddenly chuck a piece of rubble at me, so perhaps Roostor just had a hearing impairment. I sighed and shuffled out of the store. There would be no shiny new roosters for me this day. The only other roo store in the world was the one in Quintana Roo, Mexico, but that one was pronounced differently, so they couldn’t sell roosters or kangaroos. But perhaps they accepted rupees. Perhaps one day I would find out.

Learning my lesson from last time, I pulled open the door.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked out of the Aroostook Roo Store. Now fully educated as to the complementary nature of “push” and “pull” when one is on opposite sides of a door, I resumed my plodding trek back to Bouillabaisse Boulevard.