Chapter Six: The Foxes and the Chicken Coop
The night air was filled with the sounds of crickets, owls, frogs, and two human beings picking their way through the grass.
“Zack!” cried Emma. “It’s three in the morning.”
“Shh!” said Zack. “Emma, try not to wake the chickens.”
The story Zack told others that was not quite true was that he worked hard all his life to accomplish his goals. He spent a lot of time going swimming, sitting around with friends…but even that is not quite true. He was afraid to be alone, even though he had stayed that way a long time, living in the woods by himself.
He kept himself busy preparing for whenever the people on vacation would come; he would clean up an area of the woods where people left their soda cans and food wrappers and count the days when the people would come, and lots of times he drove into the town to buy supplies, and then have a coffee somewhere and buy the newspaper and do the crossword puzzle.
Zack was lonely, but he told himself lies. Really, he didn’t want the bother of having people around and at the same time he couldn’t wait for the people to come, but when they came he did not feel like his real self because he didn’t spend any time thinking about where he was going in life.
“You never explained why my sister wants US to move HER chickens!”
“Miriam doesn’t want; I want…Emma, just do what I say.”
“You have truck drivers,” said Emma. “Let them move it!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The foreman doesn’t want to get sued; that’s exactly…”
“I also don’t want to get sued!” said Emma.
“That’s why we’re doing it when everyone’s sleeping. Trust me, it’s for their own good. Shlomo would block the bulldozer with his body to save his chickens; you want him to get killed tomorrow? Come on; we have to work fast.
“I can’t believe this, Zack. “You’re nuts!
“It’s only a short way; think how happy Shlomo will be when the bulldozer doesn’t squash his chickens tomorrow.”
“I’m going home!”
“Come on, Emma, help me.” Zack strained and grunted, trying to lift the coop. “EMMA! JUST GRAB IT A SECOND!” The chickens woke up and started to cluck madly; the coop crashed back on the ground; the rooster crowed. Now because you’re not helping, you’re waking the chickens!”
“YOU’RE the one waking them up, and you’re waking up Shlomo and Miriam! They’re going to kill us!”
Zack felt a wave of despair wash over him. “Fine. You want to go home? Get behind the wheel. When I say ‘go’, press on the gas.”
Emma got into the car and slammed the door. Zack hooked up the chicken coop to the car with a metal hook.
“Ready Emma?” said Zack. “GO!”
Emma pressed on the gas. The engine revved up, the wheels began to spin, but the car wouldn’t move.
“The car won’t go!” said Emma. “What did you do?” She peered out the window to the back. “Unhook it, Zack!” she cried.
“Shh!” said Zack. “Just an inch and I’ll unhook it. Press on the gas harder.”
Emma floored the accelerator. The car lurched forward, dragging the coop with a loud clatter. The rooster crowed louder, the chickens clucked madly. The car slammed into a tree and the door of the coop swung open. Then bedlam broke loose while the chickens ran out in a panic. All this time Zack yelled to Emma, “NOT SO FAST! Watch out! Emma, get out of the car! Catch the chickens! oh…” He chased a chicken around on the grass. Emma opened the car door, got out, and slammed it shut.
“Ouch!” Emma hollered, forgetting to be quiet. “The rooster pecked me on the foot! And look at this mess!”
“Don’t stand there, Emma; help me!” cried Zack, tossing a chicken back into the coop.
“Zack, I’m bleeding!” said Emma.
“Shh!” said Zack. “A light just went on in the house. I told you to be quiet!”
“I told you not to come here, countered Emma.
“Get back in the car!”
“Zack! We can’t leave this mess; we have to catch the chickens.”
“There’s no time.”
“Well if you won’t do it, I’m…”
“Emma, we have to leave now! I see you feel sorry for Shlomo, but how about me? Anyway, this is all his fault.”
“What did he do?”
“I told him to sell the farm, and he’s a stubborn idiot!”
Zack grabbed Emma’s hand. They hurried through the grass, chickens still running, crowing and clucking. Zack opened the car doors and they got in.
“Don’t slam the door!” he warned Emma.
The door closed gently; the engine started up, and the car started to drive slowly.
“Turn on the lights!” said Emma.
“I can’t; they’ll see,” said Zack.
The car slammed into a tree. The windshield glass shattered. Emma screamed.
“NOW LOOK WHAT YOU DID!” said Zack.
“I told you!” Zack shouted. “Don’t talk when I’m driving. Get out of the car. Help me clean up this glass.”
“In the dark?” said Emma.
“Just feel around or something.”
“We can come tomorrow morning. Let’s go to sleep,” Emma pleaded.
“And then Shlomo sees the glass and our windshield. A sudden panic seized Zack. “Oh no! That’s a flashlight. It’s Shlomo.”
“I don’t believe this,” Emma cried in despair. She froze like a trapped animal.
“It’s okay, Emma,” said Zack. “Whatever I say, be quiet. Just catch the chickens and throw them into the coop.”
“That’s not Shlomo, it’s Miriam!” Emma whispered urgently.
“Let me take care of this!” Zack began shouting at the top of his lungs, “Help, Help! Please help us, won’t you?”
“I can’t see you!” came back a woman’s voice.
“Miriam! It’s us, Zack and Emma. Please help us!”
“What are you doing here? What happened to the car?” Miriam moved closer. “Oh my, the chickens are all over the place!” She stumbled around in the dark to catch the chickens and put them back in the coop.
“Right!” said Zack. “We heard the chickens very distressed going crazy… and we saw foxes…”
“Foxes!” cried Miriam. “Where?!”
“We went out for a drive,” said Zack, “and…”
“You went for a drive in the middle of the night?” said Miriam. “What for?”
“Miriam, you don’t know about the meteor shower? It was fantastic, but sorry you missed it. It’s over now,” he added.
“I didn’t hear about any meteor shower,” said Miriam.
“And the foxes were breaking into the cage,” said Zack, “but don’t worry, we scared them away. No need to wake up the family; I hear poor Shlomo is stressed enough.”
“Never saw any foxes,” said Miriam.
“Oh hey, as long as you’re here, Miriam, we wanted to ask…”
“First come in; you look terrible. I’ll make tea…”
Zack shook his head. “We’re in a rush. But hey, listen Miriam; Grandma isn’t happy in that nursing home. She looks miserable. Couldn’t she stay at your house?”
Emma and Miriam screamed in unison.
“Zack!” screamed Emma, furious. “What…?”
“ZACK!” screamed Miriam. “That’s exactly what I was thinking. Thank you! And all this time I thought you wouldn’t allow it.”
“You’re okay with it?” said Zack. “Great! We’ll get the paperwork started tomorrow morning! GOOD NIGHT!” He whispered to Emma, fuming beside him, “Don’t talk! Get in the car!” The car doors slammed, the engine revved up, more glass fell from the windshield, and Zack’s car drove away.