This is an excerpt from a short story, “Chicken,”  written by my friend and author Rob Stennett. It takes place in a chicken restaurant, but it’s not really about a chicken restaurant – it’s about the people who go there or don’t go there. It’s about the employees who are caught in the middle. And mostly it’s about a young cashier at the restaurant who happens to be gay. Here’s the excerpt from the short story:

I was trying to take things just one customer at a time. After I gave the teary eyed woman her chicken sandwich, she said, “It’s so nice to be served by someone who has the same values as I do.”

I nodded as she walked away. Just keep smiling. You can do this. My next customer was a man in a camouflage jacket with a thick
tangled orange beard. Unlike the others, he didn’t meet my eyes. He fished for change in his pocket and said, “I’ll have one of those chicken biscuits and a coffee.” I rang up his order. As he handed me his change, he told me, “I’m not normally much for crowds, but if buying chicken is a way to tell the gays what we really think, it seems like the right thing to do.”

These are just words, I told myself. They don’t mean anything. If it upsets you, don’t listen. Pretend he said something else.

“We need to let those fags and dykes know they’re not going to run our country,” he said.

Sticks and stones, break our bones, but words go places sticks and stones can’t reach. They seep into our thoughts and strangle our souls. At that moment, I felt like I couldn’t just say please and thank you. I couldn’t pretend he didn’t say anything.

You can get an e-version of the entire story for .99 at Amazon HERE. No matter which side you found yourself during the recent chicken restaurant hubbub, you should check this out because Rob uses his excellent story-telling skills to raise all kinds of important questions. I hope you’ll take the short time it takes to read this and let Rob or I know what you think.