Posted 05-01-2004 at 12:06:54
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Up until this morning I was still stuck in rooster limbo. It's been a couple of busy days and Big Red was not discussed. Jake didn't bring it up until last night, nor did I, nor have I sanctioned any more rooster surveillance missions. Through this whole ordeal the one thing that keeps coming up in my mind, is how I slipped up.
Right, Jake was wrong. Right, Rocky was wrong, but all my life I have known, respected and adhered to the 'two wrongs don't make a right' philosophy. This is the first time though, that I had to consciously keep reminding myself of the fact. I slipped up by not only allowing, but encouraging my kids to go onto someone else's property and prowl around. There is NO excuse for that. I let my emotions take over my common sense and I made a bad impression in front of my kids in the process. Last night, I set about doing damage repair.
"When do you want us to go back and look for Big Red?" Asked Jake.
"I don't. It's over. He's gone, and I'm done with the whole deal."
"But...I told you! He still has birds over there, and I'd be willing to bet that Big Red is one of them!"
"I don't care, and that's none of our business. Ya'll were wrong for going over there, and I was doubly wrong for letting you. You never...ever go on someone else's property without permission. I've been drumming that in your head all your life, and I'm sorry I let you down by allowing you to do it anyway. I don't care what the circumstances are, it's wrong. If Rocky walks that rooster down Main Street on a leash during the Memorial Day Parade NONE of us will say a word about it, you got it?"
"But I felt so bad about...I mean you were so upset...and I still think we can get him back."
"Well, I'll tell you what. If you truly feel bad and you want to make it up to me, I have a suggestion."
He said the word so fast that I had to stifle a smile. The look on his face was priceless. A mixture of tentative hope and stubborn admission. He knows who the true guilty party in the whole deal is. Rocky couldn't have bought Big Red if Jake hadn't sold him.
"I ran into a man in town today, and he knows we run a farm. He asked me if we were in the market for some free chickens. Roosters too. Apparently, his neighbors down the road moved out and left a dozen or so chickens to fend for themselves. Looking for something to eat, they came to his place and are laying eggs all over his yard, roosting in his trees, and cra...well, you know... all over his porch. You're gonna go get 'em. You're going to catch them all and bring them to me. You'll be doing a good both for him, and for me. I'll be satisfied."
"You will? Even if there's no 'Big Red' in there?"
"Yep. Thirteen or fourteen new chickens will more than make up for one Big Red. But know this. If you ever sell anything from here without permission again, I will take everything you hold dear down to the pawn shop in town and hock it. CD player, television, guns, bicycle, whatever. Do we understand each other?"
"Yeah." Eyes downcast.
"Sometime this afternoon you need to load Dad's extension ladder and those two small livestock crates in the back of my truck. Jill's going to drive you over to where the chickens are just after sundown."
"Okay." When it dawned on him what he'd just agreed to, he pinned me with a look. "Why the extension ladder?"
"You must have missed the part where I said the chickens were roosting in the man's trees, huh?"
"What kind of trees?"
"I dunno. Oaks...pines. Trees, you know. Tall ones."
"How tall?" Fingers twitching nervously.
"Fifteen or twenty feet, probably."
"Are you TRYING to get me killed?"
"No, but I sure wouldn't mind seeing you suffer a little. Just to help you remember this occasion."
"What if I fall?"
"I would advise against it."
"Well, what if I do?"
"With any luck, you'll land on that hard head of yours."
For the first time in five days we grinned at each other. With sincerity.