Posted 04-28-2004 at 14:52:48
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Naturally the minute I hung up with Rocky I called Jake. Even though it only took four or five seconds to place the call I was already bawling like a baby.
"You might as well not bother about going after Big Red, (sniff) he's...he's...de-he-head!"
"What?! No way!"
"That's what the man said, and I don't know how you're ever gonna make this up to me, Jake." I said, tears clogging up my throat and making my voice sound like I was talking from under water. Poor Big Red. After all he'd been through and managed to survive, he leaves the property for two weeks and he gets killed.
"Mom. Listen to me."
I waited as he shifted the phone from one hand to the other, and then lowered his voice.
"I guarantee you that he's not dead."
"How do you know?"
"Because! Just trust me, I know."
"Are you saying this man is lying to me?" Hope began to dry me up a bit, and at the same time I got a knot in my stomach. "Why would he do that?"
"Because he wants THAT rooster. He wants a Rhode Island Red and if you knew him like I do, you would know that he's lyin'."
This was all too bizarre to grasp.
"Why would a grown man..."
"First of all he's not a grown man, he's not much older than me, and second of all, he's not the most honest person you'd ever want to meet." He paused and then said, "Look, tonight when we get home, me and Jill will go over to Rocky's and see for ourselves. If we can't spot him, then we'll assume he's telling us the truth. But if we find him...we'll get him. If Rocky's claiming he's dead, then he can't very well come after him."
"No, this is too weird. I won't have you go tromping around on someone else's property, you're liable to get shot. You're gonna have to figure out something else."
"I wouldn't do it if I thought I was gonna get shot. Rocky will be at Bubba's Mud Pit tonight, and I have an open invitation at his house. Guys are coming and going there all the time. He wouldn't ever shoot at anybody."
I was in a real quandary here. I had had wrong done to me by having my rooster sold out from under me. The only thing Rocky was guilty of was paying less for that bird than he was worth, and he had to know it. Even if Big Red was still alive and Rocky was lying to me, by rights, that was his option. He made a deal, and a deal's a deal. By the same token, he made a deal with a minor, who didn't own the property that he traded for, and the law says a contract with a minor, however paltry, is not binding. If Rocky was lying to me, then that spoke to his integrity. In the end, Jake was wrong, and Rocky was wrong for taking advantage of a minor, and making a deal with a kid, and the end result was, I was the one who got hurt. Possibly Big red as well, but that remained to be seen.
"All right. Here's what you do. You go on over there and see. If you find Big Red, then you call me and I'll come over there. You don't touch anything, you hear me?"
"Fine. But I promise you. We'll find him there, all in one piece."
"I hope you're right."
That evening he and Jill struck out as planned. They were gone less than an hour. When they returned they were both flushed and sweating and excited, and I felt like a criminal.
"I snuck up there and had a look around," Jake said, "and I was just getting close enough to make out what was what, when I looked up and saw blue flashing lights headed right at me. It was the sheriff!"
"All right that's it! Enough! It's over. The dam rooster is gone and that's all there is to it. I won't have you getting arrested over..."
"No! No, they weren't after me!" He laughed nervously. "Well, I thought they were and it shook me up, but Roddy Frank and Bud Hendry were drag racing and someone called the cops on them. But it scared me so bad I ran back to the truck and we took off."
"I don't care! Nice people don't go prowling around other people's property in the dark, and that's all there is to it. It's wrong and that's that. I shoulda never agreed for you to go in the first place and I want it dropped right now."
"Fine." Jake said. "But I think you should know that Rocky's coop was not broken into, and that he's got a half dozen big birds in there. Didn't he tell you that something got all his poultry?"
"Well either he replaced them mighty fast, or just like I said, he's lyin'."
(to be cont)