September 5, 2014 – It was nearly 90 degrees today, but with a pleasant breeze at my back, I attempted the walk into town to meet with our chief of police. I would have taken the truck, but the gas gauge is hovering on empty. The ducks didn’t get home until midnight last night! They didn’t seem at all surprised to find me waiting for them.
“What happened?!” I asked impatiently as they tumbled out the door. “You left without me! We were supposed to go into town to get a fingerprint kit from the police station, remember?!”
“Oh, I don’t know anything about that,” Eustace responded in a raspy voice as he led the trio back to the duck house by the light of the moon.
“Nope, nothing about that,” the drakes with the female names chimed in.
“Where did you go?” I probed.
“Here and there,” Eustace replied joyfully. “Here and there.”
“Time for bed,” said Merida.
“Good night,” said Leisl closing the duck house door behind her.
I pressed my face against their window.
“But you didn’t answer me!” I whined somewhat irritated. A chicken would never treat a flockmate with such disregard! We might peck one another in the eyeball, but we would never ignore a sister hen.
“Good night, chicken,” Eustace said through the darkness.
“Good night, good night,” said the other two.
And that, as they say, is all she wrote. Though the she is me, and I still don’t have a good reason why I was left sitting on a rock watching the tail lights of our 1955 Cobalt Blue Dodge pickup truck disappear out of sight.
No matter, I told myself. It does no good wasting time on something that’s already done. I intended to get my wings on a fingerprint kit even if it meant going into town alone.
I made it to Main Street in relatively short order. I didn’t stop to look in recycling bins – even though it’s Friday and I spotted several tempting items. I didn’t stop to nibble on the petunia plants that grow in Mrs. Twila’s flowerbed – something I’ve been known to do on a more leisurely walk. No. Today, I was focused and determined.
I hopped up the granite steps that lead into the police station and reached to grab the handle of a white, wooden door marked “Entrance”. An officer pushed through from the other side on his way to a patrol car, nearly squashing me against the clapboard siding. I leaped out of the way with hardly a second to spare. My heart was beating a thunderous boom. I don’t know why I was so nervous!
An older woman with a kind face sat behind a glass window with a perfect circle cut out of the middle.
“Why, hello beautiful hen!” she greeted. “How did you get in here?”
I thought it was obvious.
“I came through the door marked entrance,” I explained. “I was hoping to see the police chief or whomever it is that’s in charge of lifting fingerprints from a crime scene.”
The woman gasped and pushed her chair away from the window.
“Let me guess,” I said pleasantly, sticking my beak through the hole in the glass. “You’re related to Eunice the librarian.”
“She’s my sister,” the woman responded, her voice thin and shaky. “I’m sorry for my reaction. I’ve never heard a chicken speak before.”
“I get that a lot,” I explained. “Would you happen to know who I can speak with?” I questioned, eager to refocus our conversation.
“Everyone is out on a call at the moment,” she said apologetically. “If you don’t mind my asking, for what purpose are you inquiring?”
“I’m trying to solve a crime,” I began. “Someone is sending my friend Charlotte unsolicited gifts in the mail… anonymously. I don’t know if it’s a harmless secret admirer or a cracked egghead determined to cast injury and fear upon my flock.” (I purposely omitted the piece about the treasure map. It’s best to keep that little pearl to myself.)
“Glory!” the woman said shaking her head sympathetically. “What a dreadful fright it must be causing all of you.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was the sole chicken in our flock losing sleep over the mystery.
“If I could borrow a fingerprint kit, I think I can solve the mystery myself,” I explained. “I don’t want to bother the Chief with the particulars. I’m sure he’s a very busy man. I’m very capable. I helped solve a case in Nova Scotia. I assisted the authorities in catching the notorious criminal, Dumpling Longfeather. Maybe you heard of that case?”
The woman had not but seemed interested in my account of what happened. I hit on all the high points.
“So she ran afoul,” she finally remarked.
“Yes, that’s about the size of it,” I sighed.
“You don’t think this Dumpling Longfeather has anything to do with sending the packages, do you?”
The thought had crossed my mind, but my gut is telling me it isn’t her. The woman leaned closer to the glass, more comfortable with our conversation and the fact that I am a hen who speaks fluent English.
“I’ll tell you what. I know where they store the kits. I’ll let you have one. There’s a lab two towns over that can run the results for you against a nationwide database.”
Then she handed me two business cards. “Here’s my contact at the lab, and here’s my phone number. If you need anything, please call. No one messes with a citizen of our town.”
I was thrilled! I thanked her profusely. Before I left, I had one final question.
“If I may be so bold, why does your sister hate chickens?”
The woman laughed and threw back her head.
“I used to chase her around the farm with our rooster, King George when we were kids. One day, I lost my grip. He flew out of my arms, grabbed her by a pigtail and spun her to the ground. Then he pecked her in the backside. Those were good times,” she chuckled.
She handed me the fingerprint kit and we bid each other adieu. I hurried home eager to get started on the process of lifting the prints. I was certain I would find some. But, my testing would have to wait one more day. When I got back, Mom was doling out watermelon slices. I had worked up such a sweat that I buried my face into the biggest slice and let the cool juices run down my beak. Wilma licked them off. I’m off now to stick my head in a bucket of water and try to remove that image from my mind. It may take all day.