March 14, 2014 – I glanced at the floor under the table in the conference room of the brewery. It was littered with candy wrappers and empty chip bags. Across the room, one lone package of peanuts dangled from its coiled tether in the vending machine.
“Hand me another quarter, will you?” I asked Sawyer.
“I didn’t bring any money with me, remember? If your coin pouch is empty, that’s it.”
“But I’m hungry,” I whined. “The anxiety of hiding out from Eunice has thrown my metabolism into overdrive.”
“What about the worm jerky?” she inquired, flipping the page of a celebrity magazine.
I held the empty Mason jar over my head so the fading light from the window could wash over it.
“Empty,” I declared, tipping it upside down over my mouth in the hope of catching an errant crumb. No such luck. I must have licked them all off in the middle of the night.
“That bag of peanuts is taunting me,” I complained looking back at the vending machine.
“Then find the key and unlock the door,” Sawyer sighed, putting aside her publication. “I don’t know why you just didn’t open the thing in the first place.”
“Because THAT… would be STEALING!” I countered, sitting up on my elbows.
“Stealing from WHOM?” Sawyer laughed. “We OWN the vending machine!”
“It still doesn’t seem right,” I huffed, dropping to my back and staring at the underside of the table. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take. “
“You heard Bo and the rest of the flock. We have to stay put until Eunice is apprehended. She’s dangerous and has made threats of physical harm against us. We can’t take any chances.”
“I beat her in the election fair and square.”
“I know you did.”
“I ran a clean campaign!”
“Then why are we hiding out under the conference room table at the Happy Chicken Brewing Company while Eunice is free to do whatever she wants? I won’t be intimidated! I am an elected official, for heaven’s sake! My constituents expect to see me out and about! Instead, I’m staring up at a wad of gum while a carpet rash threatens to invade my lady parts. It’s not right!”
“Alright, then,” Sawyer yielded. “What’s the plan?”
I didn’t really have a plan. I was annoyed and hungry and I missed my nest box. I thought fast.
“We catch Eunice ourselves.”
“ARE YOU NUTS?!” Sawyer snapped. “She’s a crazed lunatic with her sights set on you and me. Why go searching for trouble?!”
“Because I have to do something. Because we’ve been stuck in here for two days and I’m going loopy. Because if we don’t fix this problem, it’s never going to go away!”
Sawyer stared at me motionless. I could feel my heart beating wildly in my chest. I don’t know if it was the fear of danger or the exhilaration of pursuit that affected me so, but every nerve was on edge.
After what seemed an eternity, She finally spoke.
“You’re delirious. You must be on a sugar high. Take a nap. Better yet, there’s still a swig of moonshine left in the jug. That’ll help you sleep.”
“I’m not losing my mind!” I defended. “You know I’m right. We haven’t heard anything from the flock since we’ve been in here. That means they’ve either forgotten about us, or something terrible has happened. What if Eunice snatched them all? Shouldn’t we try to save them or would you rather we wait here until we turn to dust?!”
The thought, that the rest of our feathered family might be at risk, finally got Sawyer’s attention.
She looked apprehensive.
“They should have checked in with us by now,” she said pensively. “If Eunice has been caught, surely we would have received an all-clear from Bo. What if Eunice showed up at the chicken yard and when she couldn’t find us, she took it out on the others?”
The air between us energized as our worst fears grew palpable.
“That’s it!” I declared, coming out from under the table. “I’m going to check on the flock and find out what’s going on. If I have to hunt Eunice down myself and hand her over to the authorities, I will!”
“Not without me!” Sawyer stated, joining me by the door.
We grabbed the flashlights and put on our colander helmets. In the time it took us to make a decision, night had fallen. We would need to navigate the woods without the protection of daylight and proceed without calling any attention to ourselves. I inhaled deeply to steady my nerves.
“Ready?” I asked my best friend and campaign manager extraordinaire.
“In a second,” she said, whamming her fist against the vending machine. “Here. We may need these peanuts later on.”
“Now, why couldn’t you have done that when I said I was still hungry?” I cracked.
“You didn’t ask,” she replied, as she opened the door and gestured for me to proceed.
“And I’m the nutball,” I laughed, taking the lead.
Not long after, we left the safety of the brewery and began an uncertain journey into a most indeterminate future.