Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rusty Pails #39
The Ruby Bee Caper (Part 3)

by Rocky Macy

Ruby Bee is a big, fat hen, and she’s not just any hen. She is Gladys Clench’s champion Rhode Island Red, known far and wide for consistently laying the rich double-yolkers that are the not-so-secret ingredient to Gladys’s blue-ribbon pies. Ruby Bee is as admired as Gladys is feared!

Our plan, if you could call it a plan, was to snatch Ruby Bee out of the Clench coop, spirit her away to a secret location, and hold her for ransom. My initial role in this criminal activity was to pull out my old Underwood typewriter and peck out the ransom note. After everyone got in their two-cents worth, this was the end product:

Gladys,

We have your fat chicken. If you want her back you will need to bring four warm homemade pies (coconut, lemon meringue, strawberry-rhubarb, and chocolate cream) to the picnic table farthest from the road at the state park at eight o’clock tonight – and then go home. Your fowl will be returned to you by special courier – if the pies are worthy. If you fail to pay the ransom, or try to poison us, she will be returned to you as chicken salad!

In order to keep any nosey truckers away from our pies, you are to wear your plaid bloomers, chartreuse bowling shirt, and your hair in pin curls when you make the delivery.

Any deviation from the terms of this note will have dire consequences!

Yours truly,
Four Desperate Men


The real reason that we wanted her to show up in her bloomers was so that we could film her from a hidden camera. Our director thought that would make an artsy ending for our movie.

It was getting on toward midnight by the time I finished the ransom note. Heck and Truman had come up with an empty burlap feed bag and a couple of kerosene lanterns, and the Judge had completed reading the parts of the camera’s instruction booklet that dealt with taking low-light movies. I quickly threw together a bologna sandwich and stuffed it into my emptiest pocket. It was time to get the show on the road!

Things pretty well come to a stop around Sprung Hinge when the sun goes down, and if anyone is out running the roads late at night, they are probably up to no good. Fortunately that described us and only us, and we made it to Gladys’ lane without any pesky witnesses. Heck turned the truck around and backed into the lane. He killed the lights, turned off the engine, and put the truck in neutral. We were able to coast down the lane until we reached the edge of the yard, just feet from the chicken coop. Our get-away vehicle was headed toward the highway, ready for a speedy retreat!

Judge Redbone got his camera cranked up and began filming the rest of us as we made ready to commit Grand Theft Chicken. Heck and Truman were lighting the lanterns while I dealt with the Clench security system. That system was Henry, Gladys’ Russian Wolfhound. He ambled over to the ragtag team of trespassers, stuck his long snout in my pocket, and retrieved the sandwich. After taking a minute to pee on Truman’s leg, Henry made his way back over to the porch and laid down to enjoy his late-night snack.

The Judge was the first one into the coop so that he could film the rest of us as we entered. I stepped in next with a lantern, being careful not to make any undue noise and wake the sleeping hens. Heck followed me in with the burlap bag, and Truman was the last one through the door. He was standing just inside the doorway and concentrating on shaking his leg in an effort to dry the gift that Henry left on his coveralls.

Gladys had about three dozen hens. Some were asleep in nesting boxes, while others were roosting on railings that were placed there for that purpose. The Judge panned the hen house interior with his movie camera, before focusing in on the large nesting box in the corner where Sprung Hinge’s most famous fowl was happily dreaming of fat bugs and earthworms.

It was starting to look like we could pull this crime off, but our confidence was to be short-lived. Heck, bag in hand, moved over to the queen’s box and was gently lifting her out. We all shuffled in closer, providing a good group shot for the Judge. Ruby Bee, waking suddenly to a coop full of criminals, began with a squawk that could wake the dead two counties over, and the other three dozen hens took up the chorus. Henry, having finished eating, took the opportunity to change teams and began baying.

Even with all of the commotion, we might have still made good on our escape. But when Gladys’ shotgun blasted through the bedlam, Truman dropped his lantern and set the coop on fire! Things were starting to heat up!

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