Wednesday, April 21, 2010

30 Days 30 Stories "The Mystery of the Missing Eggs"

The Mystery of the Missing Eggs
by Anji Sandage

2010 copyright; author retains all rights to the story. Please do not use the story without author's permission.

Chapter 1: Big Trouble

“Mother isn’t going to be happy,” said ten-year-old Dena Connolly as she brushed her dusty brown hair away from her face. She looked around her where her three younger sisters huddled in the makeshift shack they had built of old tires and boards that had been stacked out behind the chicken coop. She waved her hand through a shaft of sunlight beaming down through a hole in the ceiling and watched for a moment as little particles of dust swirled in the air. “She’s already mad enough about the sheet, and now there’s no roof on our clubhouse.”
Michelle spoke next as her three sisters turned there eyes in her direction. “It’s not my fault. You shouldn’t of . . .”
“It is too your fault,” Renee interrupted, poking at the dirt floor with a stick. “If you hadn’t told her, she wouldn’t of ever found out. Just ‘cause you were mad—you ruined the whole thing!”
“Well, you’re the one who broke the leg off my Barbie!” Michelle cried indignantly, holding up a dirty one legged Malibu Barbie with matted hair.
“I didn’t mean to! Besides, Barbie dolls are dumb anyway!”
Shannon, the youngest of the four sisters, watched closely, her blue eyes moving back and forth from one face to the next as her older sisters quarreled.
Michelle brushed a handful of stringy honey-blonde hair out of her eyes with her free hand and made a face as she looked up through the hole in the ceiling.
“Will you two just stop fighting for a minute?” Dena yelled. Who cares about the stupid sheet anyway? Mom asked for a dozen eggs, and we only could find three! She was going to make custard. You can’t make custard with only three eggs!”
Three younger sisters were now staring at their older sister, three sets of blue eyes wide with amazement.
“Gee whiz, Dena ya don’t haf ta yell,” Michelle pouted. “‘sides, you know we always find at least a baker’s dozen.” She paused self-importantly. “That’s thirteen.”
“Don’t you think we know that already? We were there when mom told you,” Renee said smugly. “Besides, last time I got the eggs, I found fifteen.”
“Mom will never believe us anyway, if we come in the house with only four eggs . . .”
Renee looked at Dena impatiently, eyeing the three large brown eggs she held in her lap. “I thought you said there were only three.”
“Well, there is one more, but I need some help getting it . . .”
Michelle pursed her lips. “What? Did you find one in the wheat barrel again?”
“No!” Denise said with disgust. “Remember, I was the one who got the last one out of there. This is way worse than that!”
“Oh no!” Suddenly Shannon clapped her hand to her mouth.
“What?” Michelle asked.
“Mean Ol’ Henny Penny!” Shannon gasped breathlessly.
Michelle and Renee looked at Denise, their faces pale.
Denise nodded. “That’s right. Mean Ol’ Henny Penny. But I think I know how we can get her egg.” Dena stood up, half hunched over, being careful not to bring the ceiling of their fort crashing down on top of them. “C’mon!” she said as she moved toward a narrow opening in one corner of the little room. Her sisters stood up and followed, single-file, out into the morning sunlight

Chapter 2: Mean Ol’ Henny Penny

“Ok, this is what we’re going to do,” Denise said, grabbing a long stick off the ground. I’ll go into the chicken coop, and use this stick to pry her up like this.” She wedged the stick under a large rock and pushed down, forcing the rock up from the dirt. “When there is enough room, Renee, you grab the egg out from under her.”
“How come you get to pry her up? Last time I tried to get an egg from her, she pecked my finger!”
“You just have to be more quicker about it then,” Dena said frowning. “I’m the only one tall enough to reach the nesting boxes.”
Michelle and Shannon hung back, as their older sisters swung the outer door of the coop open, and they were suddenly engulfed in the smell of methane and straw. The floor was dusty and scattered with grain and straw. Most of the room was taken up by four one-hundred gallon drums, three sealed, and the fourth one open. It looked empty, until you came up close and looked into the bottom and saw the wheat. Sometimes a very fat little gray mouse would be running in circles at the bottom of the barrel. To the right was a wall made of plywood and chicken wire, were two rows of open slots, just large enough to reach your hand into if necessary, three on the top, and three on the bottom, each with a carpeted chute to catch the eggs as they rolled gently out from under the unsuspecting hen, as she laid her egg. On the near end of the wall there was a door, which opened into the main chicken coop, where there were always several hens roosting on the wooden rods that crossed the room.
Dena grabbed the doorknob. “Are you ready?” she asked
“All right.”
Dena opened the door, and suddenly the coop was alive with flying feathers and squawking hens, as they all fought their way out a small opening, about two feet square, on the far side of the room.
“Maybe she’ll run out with the rest of them,” Michelle anticipated, with the air of a hopeful spectator.
After the dust had settled, Dena went into the coop. “She’s still in there. I’m going to try to lift her up off the nest now, ok?”
“Which box is she in?” Renee asked, putting her hand up.
“She’s in the one on the top—in the middle,” Dena added. “I’m ready.”
“Ok,” Renee said climbing onto the closest grain barrel. Heny penny’s brown feathers were visible through the slot now, and she squawked loudly as Dena slid the stick underneath her feathered body.
“Hurry! Get the egg!” Dena called out excitedly.
Henny Penny beat her wings frantically, standing briefly enough for Renee to catch a glimpse of the nest. “Hey! There’s more than one in there!” she yelled, as her hand darted between the hen’s leathery yellow legs. “Ow!” Renee’s hand came out empty.
Dena peered out through the chicken wire. “What happened?”
“She scratched me! Pry her up again and let’s try again. I think there might be three eggs in there!”
Michelle and Shannon cheered loudly.
“Ok, I’ll count to three,” Dena called from inside the coop. “Get ready! One, Two, Three!” Henny Penny began to squawk loudly and beat her wings. “Hurry! I have her pinned against the top!” Dena called out excitedly.
“I got them! There were four!” Renee scooped with her hand, pushing the eggs gently down the chute, where they clunked softly against the padded rail.
The four girls cheered loudly as Renee gathered the four warm brown eggs into her t-shirt, and the squawking subsided as Dena pulled the stick out from under a very unhappy Henny Penny and slammed the door of the coop behind her.

Chapter 3: The 'Vestigation

“You haven’t noticed any animals around have you?” Mother looked worried as she scrubbed Shannon’s dirt streaked face with a soapy washcloth. “Remember there was a skunk holed up under the coop a while back . . .how do you girls get so filthy anyway?”
“Maybe it’s a weasel!” Michelle called out excitedly. “I’ll bet there’s a weasel sneaking into the chicken coop at night.”
Mother laughed. She put down the washcloth and put a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the table.
“Well, one thing’s for sure—we’ll hafta vestigate!” Shannon giggled.
Dena grabbed a magnifying glass off of the kitchen counter and stuffed it into the pocket of her jeans. “Dena Bean-a, Private eye! I’ll find the culprit, just you wait and see.”
“You girls be careful out there. If there’s another skunk, that’s something your dad will have to take care of when he gets home.”
“Don’t you worry, mom. If we see any skunks, we’ll just steer right clear of that stuff!” Renee giggled, remembering when she had almost tried to pet one, thinking it was a cat.
Mark, the girls’ three-and-a-half-year-old brother, who was sitting at the table laughed. “Rargh!” he said fiercely waving his hands in the air.
“That’s right! You go get that mean nasty skunk!” Michele laughed.
“That’s enough, girls. You take your sandwiches and go out and play,” Mother said as she wiped bread crumbs off of the counter. She handed Dena the jar of peanut butter. “Put this away for me, will you please? Mark still hasn’t even touched his lunch.” She picked up his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and held it out to him. “Just take one bite, Mark. Look, it’s yummy.”
“No!” Mark turned his face away. “I don’t want it!”
“Well, I can see that this is pointless,” Mother said frowning.

Soon the girls were back in their fort.
“This calls for an investigation!” Dena held the magnifying glass she had swiped off the kitchen counter up to her eye.
Shannon giggled, pointing. “You have a giant eye!”
“The better to catch sneaking weasels with,” Dena said.
“We’ll have to look for clues. Where do you think we should look first?” Renee asked.
“I think we should have a stake out. That way, if there is some dangerus animal, we can just watch where it hides and tell Dad ‘bout it later.” Shannon said, her freshly washed face now streaked with dirt.
Dena looked at her quietly for a minute. “Hmm, not bad. But I thought we could use this to look for clues first,” she said waving the magnifying glass. “I think that a stake out is a good idea—but not until later. I don’t think that a wild animal is going to come out in plain daylight.”
Shannon frowned.
“You guys can be my assistants. Now let’s go look for anything unusual.”
Dena marched her sisters out of the fort. “Michelle and Renee, you look around the fence. Pick up anything that you don’t think should be there. Shannon, you help me look inside!”
“Hey, how come you get the magnifine glass?” Renee pouted.
“It’s ‘cause I’m the head detective,” Dena said. “Now don’t bother me ‘bout that again!”

After several minutes of crawling around on their hands and knees, they had gathered a blue button, two old marbles, a black penny, a few sticks and rocks, a shoestring, and an old fishing lure, and some leaves and bits of grass, which they took back to their headquarters for closer examination.

Chapter 4: Suspicious Activities

“What kind of clue is that?” Dena asked wrinkling her nose at what had at first looked like a chunk of black rock with a white streak on it. “It looks like chicken doo-doo. I thought we were just picking up things that seemed to be out of place! This seems like it belongs in a chicken coop to me!”
“Well, It seemed out of place to me,” Michelle said indignantly. “How come a piece of chicken poop wasn’t inside the chicken pen like it should have been? That’s what I think.”
“Humph. Well, I just don’t know about that one.” Dena flicked it away into the pile of rocks, sticks, bits of grass, and leaves, which she had already discarded. “How ‘bout this shoelace?”
Renee looked at it closely. “Hey, that’s mine! I wondered what happened to that thing.”
“That’s yours? What were you doing by the chicken coop with a shoelace? That’s what I’d like to know.” Dena turned toward her sister. “You weren’t stealing eggs were you?”
“Dena,” Renee sighed and rolled her eyes, “the eggs were stolen today. I lost that thing a long time ago—maybe clear last week.”
“Well, I’ll have to make a note of it in my log.”
“Your log?” Shannon asked, wide eyed.
Dena sighed patiently. “My notebook.” She pulled a small notebook and a ballpoint pen out of her back pocket.
“Hey, isn’t that mom’s budget book?” Michelle demanded.
“I’m only going to write on the empty pages. ‘Sides, I need to record any suspicious activities.”
“Losing a shoelace isn’t xactly what I’d call a suspicious activity,” Renee said looking insulted. “Now can I have my shoelace back?”
“Well, why wasn’t the shoelace in your shoe where it belonged?” Dena asked.
“I was using it for a rope,” Renee replied, “and there’s nothing suspicious about that.”
“Fine. How about these then?” Dena asked after handing the shoelace to Renee and tucking the notebook back into her pocket. She poked at the marbles.
“I never saw those before in my life,” Renee said. She looked at Michelle and Shannon.
Shannon shrugged. “Not mine,” she said.
Three sets of eyes, two blue and one brown, turned to look at Michelle who was looking uncomfortable.
“Fine—they’re mine. But I wasn’t up to anything. I just lost them one day when I was looking for worms.”
Dena pulled out the notebook again and scribbled:

Renee --> shoelace
Michelle --> Marbles

Then she took some stolen zip lock bags out of her pocket and put the marbles in one of the bags. “I need that shoelace please.”
“Why?” Renee demanded.
“It’s evidence. Give it here.”
“Hey, I told you . . .”
Dena sighed. “Look, if you don’t give it here, It will look like you’re trying to hide something. Then I will have to say you are guilty. You don’t want that do you?”
“Fine!” Renee frowned and handed her the shoelace. “But I want it back after the ‘vestigation.”
“ What about the chicken poop?” Michelle asked.
Dena sighed, and scribbled in her notebook again. “There. Are you happy now?” She then turned her attention back to the remaining items. “What about this thingy here?” She pointed at the fishing lure.
“Uh, that’s daddy’s” Shannon said hugging herself tightly. “I lost that thing when I . . . uh, we was playing fishing. Probly the same time Michelle lost her marbles, ‘cause she was finding the worms for me to stick on that thingybobber there.” She pointed at the hook. “I don’t care if you write me on your s'pishous activity list—just don’t tell daddy I stole his fishing thingy, ok?”
Dena sighed. “Fine, but I am really wondering what you two were doing with worms on this thing around chickens. Someone could really get hurt.” She looked at the button and the penny. “I don’t think this investigation is really getting anywhere at all. I’m solving all kinds of criminal activity—just not the one I wanted to find out about!”


Taffy said...

I like the sisters and their relationships! Cute.

Cathy Witbeck said...

Fun story. Why am I not surprised that you wrote about chickens.