September 26, 2014 – Tim, Maisy and I took off early this morning to make the beer delivery at Sweet Abbey’s Grille. We wanted to get in and out of there before the door opened to customers for their premier lunch service. Since the pub isn’t that far from the bowling alley, we toyed with the idea of hitting the lanes before coming back to the chicken yard. In the end we opted not to in fear that we might lose more feathers while the game was in play and completely humiliate ourselves trying to nail a 3-10 split. Another day, I suppose. I do miss bowling. Sawyer and I haven’t played in a tournament since we helped Mrs. Turner’s team with the championship last year.
Maisy was thrilled to have been chosen as our fill-in beverage distribution handler. She listened carefully on the way over to the restaurant, nodding her head whenever Tim or I shared with her a rule of business etiquette. She clearly wanted to make a good impression.
“Relax, kid!” Tim said to her when he noticed her wings shaking. “You’re going to do great. We’ll be beside you every step of the way.”
And we were… except for the brief time when we weren’t.
We pulled up to the kitchen entrance of Sweet Abbey’s where we met Shark, the kitchen manager.
Interesting name, I thought. He was tall and muscular with an earing pierced through his right eyebrow. The scalloped tail of a dragon tattoo peeked out from the neck of his white chef’s jacket.
He must have noticed my hesitation because he turned to me and laughed. “They call me Shark because of the way I wear my hair,” he said carefully tapping a row of orange spikes on an otherwise bald head. “It sort of looks like a dorsal fin, doesn’t it?!” he said proudly.
“So much so that I suddenly feel like bait,” Tim answered nervously. This made Shark laugh even harder.
“I like you, little dude! Let’s get this beer into the coolers so you chickens can be free to enjoy this spectacular day!”
The encounter proved that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or a shark by its dorsal fin. Ten minutes later the truck bed was empty and Shark was handing me a check for the proceeds. We wished him well on the opening and hopped back into the truck.
“Wait a minute,” I said to Tim. “Where’s Maisy?”
“Last time I saw her,” said Tim, “she was talking to someone in the parking lot. I thought she was helping with directions.”
“You don’t think someone took her, do you?”
“Nah, Maisy is too smart to fall for that. Plus, I tossed a whistle around her neck before we left the house and told her to blow on it with all her might if she got separated from us and needed help. I haven’t heard a whistle since we’ve been here.”
I was about to coordinate a search party when I heard the screen door of Abbey’s kitchen open and slam shut.
Young Maisy stood on the pavement before us dressed in a tightly corseted Bavarian beer girl outfit.
“Oh, no!” Tim whispered. “Charlotte and Addie are not going to like this. Not one bit!”
It made me chuckle that Tim is scared of our elder hens, and I would have teased him about it, but we had more pressing matters to attend to.
“Isn’t this great, Hap?!” Maisy exclaimed. “Did you know this place is having an Oktoberfest celebration tonight? I was snooping around and wandered into a back room where the waitresses were getting ready. One of them slipped this outfit on me. I think I look very healthy,” she declared spinning around. “Look how rosy my comb and wattle are!”
Good Lord. Our young, innocent chicken was suddenly a contestant on Hens Gone Wild.
“I for one, think you look smashing!” I said enthusiastically, “but we do have to get back to the chicken yard. If it wasn’t for molting season, I’d recommend that we stay, but you know our flock… sticklers when it comes to being seen in public this time of year.”
I felt horrible for dashing her spirits, and then a brilliant thought crossed my mind.
“Maisy… do they have other costumes to spare?”
Tim shot me a suspicious look.
“Sure, Hap! The closet has a rack full of them!”
I hauled a reluctant Tim back into Sweet Abbey’s Grille and followed Maisy to the changing room. A short time later, the three of us were dressed in similar garb, Tim sporting lederhosen and a dashing red bow tie.
When we got back to the chicken yard, I quickly downloaded some oompa music onto my iPod and cranked it into our outside stereo system.
“Happy Oktoberfest!” we called to the flock.
At first, the others were wary of our motives, but after we steamed the bratwurst and heated the pretzels, everyone was on board. I called our friends from Mrs. Turner’s farm on the way home. They showed up a few minutes later with more delicious food.
We don’t usually imbibe in our own products, but today, we slipped a spout into one of our kegs and clanked beer steins to health, harmony and happy hens. Roosters, too. Maisy was right. In this outfit, my comb and wattle glow.