The True Origin of "Sleigh Ride"
Prompt=include a Christmas song and a chicken in a short story
There are many talented animals in the world. Take the bombardiar beetle for example; it can shoot liquid fire from its rear end by mixing certain chemicals inside its body. Many animals bear curious gifts like this, and like these fascinating creatures, there are many talented people in the world.
This, however, was not the case for Mr. John Smith. John was an ordinary man with an ordinary name and an ordinary life. He did not possess any special talents or great riches. He didn’t even own his own dragon. All he had was an ordinary farm, an ordinary family, and an ordinary life.
His friend, Mr. Leroy Anderson, on the other hand was extremely talented and as unordinary as one could get. Leroy did many talented things. He could effortlessly transform a hunk of wood into a desk or a bench or whatever furniture he desired and spoke several different languages. He even wrote winter songs in the brutal heat of July.
So when Leroy asked John if he would like to attend a recording of one of his minor compositions, John was ecstatic. As the day drew closer, however, John began to feel more and more self-conscious about his ordinariness. He was going to an unordinary place with unordinary people who did unordinary things–including the great Leroy Anderson. What if his ordinariness distracted the talented ensemble during their recording? Or even worse, what if his ordinariness seeped into the very music itself? John decided in his ordinary brain that that would not be good.
With this problem in mind, John thought and thought and thought. He paced and sat, sat and paced. Finally, an idea came to him–one that was slightly unordinary, much to John’s surprise. He would bring Leroy a chicken! It would be a gift to celebrate the recording of his song.
Now that the anxiety of his ordinariness had dissipated, John worried no more, and the final days leading up to the day of the recording flew by quickly. John arrived at the Boston Pops Orchestra with a large cage that had been obscured with an old farm blanket. Inside, of course, was the chicken who was not in the least bit happy to have been removed from her usual roost and plopped into a dark cage. She communicated this distaste with high-pitched clucks and disdainful bawks.
“Now you be quiet, chicken,” John ordered as he set the cage down backstage. “I’ll come git ya after the recording so you just settle on down for now. Okeydoke?”
The chicken clucked back sharply in reply and indignantly rustled her feathers.
“Shhhh!” John hushed loudly with a wary glance at the stage door. “Try not to be so noisy. I wanna surprise Leroy.” The chicken quieted down.
Nodding with satisfaction down at the caged animal, John left to sit down in the grand auditorium. He had forgotten one majorly important thing however; the cage was an ordinary cage, meaning that the bars were weak and the latch was prone to popping open every now and then, just as it did hardly a minute after John had left.
Hearing the pop of the latch releasing its hold on the door, the chicken clucked to herself a bit and then tentatively prodded the door with her head. Just like any ordinary, unlocked cage, the door swung open. Clucking and bawking at this new developement in her life, the chicken stepped out of the cage.
Now seated before an immense orchestra, John of course had no idea of his chicken’s sudden liberation. The talented musicians had just finished tuning and John sat up eagerly as Leroy walked on stage. Beside him was the conductor; another talented man who went by the name of Arthur Fiedler. The recording was about to begin.
John closed his eyes in complete bliss as the music blossomed around him. He couldn’t tell musically whether it was good or not–he was too ordinary to be able to distinguish that–but it was Leroy’s music and Leroy was talented, so John reasoned that it had to be at least a little good.
The music ended finally and John opened his eyes. Leroy and Arthur got together to listen to the recording and the other orchestra people began to put away their instruments and talk quietly among themselves.
Suddenly Leroy let out a terrible cry. Without hesitation, John leaped out of his seat and raced to his friend’s side.
“What’s wrong, Leroy?” he inquired worriedly.
Leroy pointed at the device that had been used to record the performance. “My piece! It’s ruined!”
John’s eyes widened in horror. “What? How?”
“Listen,” Leroy moaned.
The recording was still playing so John obediently complied. There was that same, beautiful music, but this time something was off. There was something else playing along with the music. Something vaguely familiar, like a muffled clucking, could be heard in the background.
“My chicken!” John exclaimed in surprise. “She done joined the orchestra!”
“What am I going to do? We can’t do another recording today and the deadline is tomorrow! This is the end of my career,” Leroy lamented.
John frowned as he continued to listen to the piece. “Well, maybe you could use photoshop or whatever those editing tools are called. The clucks are pretty quiet–couldn’t you just cover ’em up with somethin’?”
Leroy paused, mulling this over. “Yes, maybe. But what would we use to cover that horrid chicken’s monologue?”
“Bells, perhaps?” Arthur, the conductor, proposed.
“And the clopping of horse hooves!” John suggested as well.
“Yes, that could work,” Leroy nodded. “But what about those especially loud bawks? Horse hooves and bells will not cover those.”
“How about a whip?” John said, frowning with the struggle to think unordinary thoughts. “And the whinnying of a horse?”
Arthur nodded with exuberance. “Yes! And we can make them fit in with the beat as well as to add some extra emphasis!”
Leroy sighed, looking relieved. “Good. Let’s do that, then. I’ll have to change the name though. I don’t think ‘Winter Dream’ quite fits it anymore.”
“How about ‘Sleigh Ride’?” John offered.
Leroy beamed at him. “Brilliant! You know what–I should have you come to all my future recordings!”
John beamed back. “Okay!”
And so John returned happily home with a lighter bounce in his step, for he had become talented and special thanks to his attribution to the song (even though there wasn’t much of a chance of it becoming famous).
As for the chicken, it was quickly forgotten. Ordinary creatures often are.