“The Battle of Fallow Field” by James Terry on failbetter.com

This is a clever, and sometimes funny, story by James Terry on failbetter.com (named after a Samuel Beckett quote). It’s called “The Battle of Fallow Field.” It’s about two corporals from the Revolutionary War who, upon their deaths, find themselves transported to a strange limbo: a shopping mall parking lot. Here they discover the joys of a 19-piece bucket of fried chicken and debate the best way to eat it:

Do you not agree, argued Corporal Wilson, that these Pieces of Chicken are not all Equal?

I do.

You do or you do not agree?

I agree that they are not all Equal.

You agree then that of the 19 Pieces of a full Bucket-8 Drumsticks, 6 Breasts, 5 Wings-you agree that the Wings are good, the Drumsticks better, the Breasts best?

In Essence, yes.

Then listen to me, Corporal, said Corporal Wilson. This is no trifling Matter. There are only three Categories of Chicken Pieces to choose from, corresponding precisely with the Number of Times you & I wish to eat in a Day’s Time. Three Chicken Parts, three Meals. The Matter then, if we can agree to eat only one Piece each at each Meal, and if we can agree that a different Type of Piece-Wing, Drumstick, Breast-will be eaten at each Meal, the Matter then is a simple one: which Part of the Chicken do we eat at which Meal?

This story has shades of Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot. It also reminds me a little of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon with its pseudo-use of 18th Century vernacular and how it gently satirizes the Age of Reason.


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