October 20, 2014 – First thing this morning, Sawyer, Peaches and I met up with Rosemary and Gertrude at the back entrance of the library. Trudy had a plan for outsmarting Eunice that sounded far-fetched, but worth a try. Rather than initiate an unfavorable reaction from the milky, bespectacled librarian, we would disguise ourselves as human beings and enter from the rear elevator. If we could bypass Eunice altogether, the day would be ours free and clear. If she happened upon the same floor as us, perhaps our costumes would confuse her and we could evade her scrutiny altogether.
“I went through the old trunk that Ma Turner had stored in the barn,” Trudy explained pulling miscellaneous garments from a brown paper bag. “Here’s a long dress coat that once belong to her husband,” she said, “and a pair of overalls and a Sunday going-to-church suit. I was thinking that Rosie could wear the overalls with this green baseball cap and these sunglasses.”
We helped slip Rosemary’s front legs into the large trousers and snapped the suspenders together around her neck.
“I guess as long as I lead with my head, I’ll be fine,” she mooed.
“I’ve got your second half covered too, Rosie,” Trudy replied, before tossing a denim quilt over the dairy cow’s back. “I stitched it together last night from the box of dungarees I found.”
Trudy then performed a similar procedure on herself, with a handsome gray suit. Instead of a baseball cap, she topped her head with a black fedora. The finishing touch was a faux fur mustache of the same color. Except for a quick flick of her tail, Trudy looked smashing as a man.
The dress coat was left for us three hens. The girls and I conferred quickly to determine our placement. Peaches would be on the bottom with Sawyer on her shoulders in the middle. I would be on top of Sawyer, with my head exposed. I had volunteered for the lowest station, but my feathered sisters insisted that I be the one on the lookout if and when Eunice got her freak on.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” My stomach lurched thinking about another messy confrontation with the librarian.
“You look brilliant!” said Rosie, sticking a fake goatee on my face. “Very debonair; like you just stepped out of a silent movie!”
Sawyer poked her head through a gap in the coat’s midsection.
“What’s the plan,” she asked.
“The plan is that we enter through the back door, make the short walk to the elevator, and exit on the second floor. If Eunice is at the circulation desk downstairs, we should be home free to peruse the books and computers at our leisure.”
Gertrude’s plan was sound but it didn’t stop us from being nervous.
“Can we do this soon?” Peaches piped from the bottom of the coat. “My legs are starting to wobble.”
“Let’s do it!” I declared.
We opened the beige steel door of the library’s south-facing entrance and as confidently as five farm animals dressed as men can be, began our journey to the elevator.
The hallway was dark and filled with large pipes that whooshed and gurgled indiscriminately.
“This must be the basement,” I quickly assessed, “not the first floor!”
“No worries, my friends,” said Trudy, trying to keep the trepidation from her voice. “It only makes the elevator ride a few seconds longer.”
Sawyer reached out from her gap in the coat and hit the up arrow. A collective sigh of relief sounded as the doors closed and we realized there were no other riders onboard but us. We stood facing forward, looking up only to watch the lights change from “B” to “1”. One level out of the way. Any second, and a bell would ding signaling our arrival on the second floor. But instead, the elevator car shook and jerked before coming to a complete stop. With chests tight and minds filled with apprehension, we waited for the doors to open. Would our covert operation be over before it began?
But then, the most unexpected thing happened. While the steel panel before us remained closed, a rear door, which we hadn’t before noticed, opened. We could hear the clickety-clack of a woman’s high heels enter the lift and the sound of the power doors closing behind her. Silence. We didn’t dare breathe or turn around. I closed my eyes, hoping upon hope that the new rider was a patron and not my nemesis, Eunice. I sniffed the air trying to pick up her familiar scent of stale crackers and lemon lilies. I tried to focus on her breathing, but heard only the racing of my own heartbeat. Why wasn’t the elevator car moving?!
“HIT THE FLOOR!” commanded an impatient voice, that ricocheted off the glossy walls.
Peaches, not able to see from her spot inside the coat, and weary from carrying the weight of two other hens, heard the demand and immediately thought we were being robbed. She dropped to the ground sending Sawyer and me toppling over. I fell out of the coat, causing the woman to scream in horror.
“YOUR HEAD FELL OFF!” she cried backing up against the wall as I rolled against her legs.
“WHO’S HEAD FELL OFF?!” Trudy questioned terrified. She reared on her hind legs, backing up to get away from whatever decapitated beast had invaded our space.
This of course, upset Rosemary terribly, and milk began to gush from every teat of her udder.
“MOOOOOOOOOO!” She frightfully lowed.
“WHAT’S HAPPENING?” screeched Sawyer, punching sections of wool in search of an exit from the coat.
“WE’RE BEING ROBBED!” sobbed Peaches, “…AND HEADS ARE ROLLING!”
Then, the woman with the clickety shoes, kicked me out of the way and rushed toward the lighted number panel. She started pushing every button in a frenzy, demanding that the elevator doors open immediately. When they did, she stumbled out and screamed for help from the front desk. Quickly, I hit the button to bring us back to the basement. As the doors began to close, I could see Eunice rushing to the assistance of the woman who was now sprawled out on the floor, sobbing incoherently. She was completely disheveled with crazy eyes and milk in her hair. She pointed to us and began to relay a horrific story about a headless man and his cow.
We were a mess ourselves, but I challenged us to rally and be ready to run as soon as we were deposited back among the clanking pipes. We left our disguises in the elevator and ran for the pickup truck that thankfully, I had the good sense to park two buildings over at the Medi-Spa. We climbed up into the bed and peered over the cab roof. A fire engine had been called to the library and a police cruiser. We could see the crazy woman waving her arms in the parking lot, obviously spinning her story to the first responders. Eunice stood beside her shaking her head sympathetically.
“We’d better lay low for the time being,” I suggested. “I don’t know if Eunice spotted us, but that woman might be able to describe us to the authorities. If she does, Eunice will make the identification.”
“But we didn’t do anything wrong!” Peaches protested.
She was right, of course. It was pure discrimination. I would need to figure out a way around it all. But for the time being, there was only one course of action. Head into the Medi-Spa for a much-needed massage. We left two hours later feeling like a million bucks. Trudy had her moustache trimmed. She’s going to keep it for a while.
The parking lot at the library was quiet. Gone was the police cruiser and the fire truck. I can only imagine what Eunice and the crazy woman said to them. I’ll be checking the police blotter for an update. After a quick piece of buttered cornbread and hot cup of chamomile tea, I’m headed to bed. What a day!