It’s a summer afternoon in North Chattanooga, and a man in a wool, slate-gray pinstriped double-breasted suit stands unflinchingly in the 90-degree heat; his commanding figure is completed by an ink-black necktie and a matching silk display handkerchief, and below his obsidian sunglasses, his lips slowly kiss his Dunhill cigarette like it was his bride on their wedding day and liberate a series of perfect smoke rings, which wax steadily before dissipating in the still, dry air.
With one graceful motion, he flicks the spent cigarette butt into oblivion and says to his team of three police officers, “Let’s cock-a-doodle-do this.”
He nods his head to the poised officers, who suddenly descend upon a Tremont St. house like bats out of hell.
“Police! Police! Chicken strike force!” barks the man, while holding out a badge toward the house’s front door.
“I’m cool, man, I ain’t got no chickens,” says a wavering voice from within the house.
“Wanna play chicken, do ya?” replies the man in the suit.
An officer at the side of the house yells out, “Coop spotted! Coop spotted!” as the other officers join him and run into the backyard.
The man in the suit squints his eyes, forms a small, devious smile and says, “You picked the wrong person to cluck with,” as the squawks of terrified chickens are heard in the distance.
The man is Webb “The Eggman” Wegman, the latest addition to the Chattanooga Police and the head of the newly formed Chicken Strike Force, created to crack down on the scourge of illegal chickens within Chattanooga city limits.
Wegman’s last beat was “cock-blocking,” as Wegman refers to it, on the mean streets of Chicago, apprehending both cockfighting gambling rings and the growing menace of urban chicken farmers, tied in with the seedy underbelly of Chicago’s organic-egg black market.
After a bust of a massive cockfighting ring which resulted in the tragic death of his wife at the hands of vengeful bookies and a rooster-inflicted eye injury, which made his distinctive sunglasses a medical necessity at all times, Wegman accepted an honorable discharge from the force a year ago, but as the foremost expert on cock-blocking in the nation, the Chattanooga Police Department made him an offer he just couldn’t refuse.
“I guess I’m back for another one of those cock-blocking beats,” says Wegman.
It’s another day with the Chicken Strike Force on the streets of Chattanooga, and something seems to be bothering Wegman, who looks agitated while walking in front of an unassuming East Brainerd house.
Typically, the Chicken Strike Force receives anonymous tips regarding illegal urban chickens, but sometimes, Wegman’s uncanny intuition and heightened senses can sniff out an illicit coop.
“I suspect fowl play,” says Wegman, while directing his piercing stare toward the house. “You’re about to see why they call me ‘The Eggman.'”
Wegman walks to his unmarked squad car and takes out a worn and weathered Louisville Slugger baseball bat, on which the words “OMELET MAKER” are written in block letters.
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs,” says Wegman.
He unlatches the gate to the backyard of the house and makes a beeline to a small mound in the far corner, covered by a dark green tarp.
A woman wearing a floral-print muumuu emerges from the house and briskly walks behind Wegman, saying, “I don’t have any chickens, if that’s what you’re looking for, officer.”
Wegman grabs the tarp and throws it dramatically, revealing several nests filled with eggs.
“No chickens, you say?” says Wegman. “Well, here’s egg on your face.”
Wegman violently brings his baseball bat down on the eggs, covering both himself and the woman with flying bits of eggshell and yolk as the woman cries out, “No! No!”
“Who are you?” asks the woman, visibly shaken.
“I am the Eggman,” says Wegman, solemnly. “Goo goo ga joob.”