Rizzo gently picked up the chicken as he stepped forward. “Where were you going anyway? There are wild dogs out there.”
“One of these days I’ll leave you to your wits and see what comes of it.”
Node clucked defiantly, as if to test Rizzo’s statement, making her chuckle.
Node had one stray red feather that stuck straight up in the air, like a feather in a cap. It was almost hilarious, but Node took himself so seriously that it stopped you from laughing.
Rizzo opened the pen and placed Node near to the warmer. “Have a great night Node. Stay alive. There are wild dogs out there.”
Node turned her head away from Rizzo as she placed her down on the straw.
Leaving all the chickens to retire for the night, Rizzo turned on the warming bulbs and turned off the side porch light, so that the chicks had a nice glow over them.
She looked back before heading inside and locking the door. Node’s red feather was visible through the cage wire, and side board. “Crazy chicken,” she thought, chuckling.
The next morning, Rizzo walked to the yard, as she usually did. Her heart began to melt when she saw the bottom of the pen door smashed in. Several chicks lay dead, half eaten and smothered in their own blood on the ground. Node was nowhere to be seen, and she feared the worst until she heard him clucking. Rizzo looked up to see Node on the roof of the pen, and exhaled in relief.
Rizzo stretched a broom handle toward Node so that he could grab onto it and be taken down.
“How’d you get up there anyway?”
Node pecked at and picked up the chick that he had rescued, then grabbed onto the broom handle and let Rizzo bring him down.
Once on the ground, Node released his clasp on the chick and let it walk away, then turned toward Rizzo.
There was a bit of ripped flesh on on Node’s side, and he was bloody. It looked like he’d been in a tussle.
“I couldn’t let those bitches get away with ALL the chicks.”
Rizzo looked down in shock, “Did he just…?!”
There would be no answer to that. Node pressed his chest back into the air, clucked and walked away, to sit in his perch once more, leaving Rizzo to contemplate life and all that was real…or not.
– janberry #shortstory