A woman asks me if I like hens.
Hen whats I ask her, though I know I should not do so.
Hen chickens she replies in that language peculiar to madwomen that makes perfect sense at the time, but none at all when you try to explain what happened to someone else.
I say I don't know any hens personally so I could not venture an opinion, one way or another.
That should have been the end of the matter but the following morning I awake to the sound of a hen pecking her way around my front garden.
Around her neck, when I catch her, is a luggage label, loosely tied with a thin white cord, that says simply: "Enjoy."
I never see the woman again.
The chicken is still alive and lives in the back kitchen on her own where she causes no harm to anyone.
And I have fresh eggs everyday in lieu of rent.
For a hen can produce an egg but she cannot understand a rent book or date due payments.
I call her Elsie.
I like her.