The Little Grey Rooster (Part 18)

A few of the chickens looked toward the shed. Alfred crept over to the door like a bloodhound tracking a scent. He peered inside. The old goose stretched his long neck out and blinked hard. His head twitched. “So it is,” he said. He turned back to the chickens, his usual harmless look replaced by a serious, foreboding stare. “I told you. I told you! I… I said… I told you, but you wouldn’t listen. They didn’t listen!” The chickens stepped back as Alfred began pacing back and forth. “What if the old rooster didn’t crow? That’s what I said, didn’t I? You didn’t listen. They didn’t care. Now he’s dead. He won’t crow anymore. Ha! He won’t crow!”

Alfred’s honking grew louder, and up the farmhouse, Mr McGinley yelled something from the kitchen window.

“The old rooster—” continued Alfred. “He’s gone. I saw it coming, I told them. I told you. They don’t listen. Why didn’t you listen? I warned you! And now what?” The goose’s voice grew threatening. “I said it and you didn’t care! The old rooster won’t crow now! Ha-ha! He’s dead!” Alfred noticed Sonny sitting off by himself. The goose began laughing and shrieking. “Ha-ha! Wah-ha-ha!” His honking was hysterical.

A sound like thunder cracked and boomed, and echoed across the farm, causing the chickens to collectively deposit a layer of fertiliser on the grass where they stood. Up at the farmhouse, Mr McGinley stood outside the door with his shotgun in one hand while his other hand fished in his pocket for a new cartridge. The farmer was a patient man, but Alfred’s incessant honking had been too much for him that morning. Alfred turned and ran, flapping his wings and laughing. He took off in low flight behind the shed, gliding over the pond.  He flapped and rose up above the hill on the north end of the farm, over the trees beyond the fence, and then disappeared from view.

Seeing the goose had flown, Mr McGinley abandoned his hunt and leaned his shotgun against the farmhouse wall. He walked down toward the shed and the chickens dispersed, all except Ivan and Sonny. The little grey rooster watched from a distance as Ivan stepped up to the shed door and glanced in again at Winston. Ivan turned and made his way back to the chicken yard, staring at the ground in thought as he walked. Sonny too stood up to leave. As he did, Mr McGinley arrived at the shed, followed by the cat with two of her adolescent kittens. Mr McGinley stopped at the shed entrance and peered into the darkness. After a moment he stood bolt upright and mumbled a few shocked words. He took off his beanie and scratched his head, and then entered the shed, again followed by the cat and her children. Sonny began walking toward the yard when the two kittens raced out of the shed in panic. They stopped right in front of him and looked at him, seemingly for help. The cat trotted out of the shed and rounded up the two young ones. She gave Sonny only a sideways glance as she led the kittens away in haste. As they went back up the hill to the farmhouse, the cat whispered to the kittens; one of them looked back at Sonny in concern. That was the last time any cat came near the shed or the chicken yard.



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