Heartland Havens (Part I)
June 14, 2012
“What the hell?”
The Colonel stepped out of the shack and looked across the dusty yard toward the commotion. 6 o’clock and the dust was already shaking off the joke of a morning dew to swirl around the yard by the barn. He took a long pull off the earthenware jug and swished the bourbon around his gums before spitting over the rail. The sun was not far off the horizon and it already seemed to be an unforgiving kind of day. He squinted toward the henhouse and saw his assistant gliding on a Segway and a plume of dust from behind the outbuildings over in what they call “No Man’s Land” there on the farm. It was an area that only the new people were placed, until they earned their place in the system. He saw a larger cloud behind the Segway and wondered just what in the hell could be going on now.
“What the hell?”
The Colonel considered hopping in his golf cart to investigate what the hell his assistant was doing now, but in the end decided to set back in his good ol’ rocking chair and call his stiltwalker out to handle things.
“Stretch goddammit! Get over here!”
Stretch the Stiltwalker stepped around the side of the house and looked down at the Colonel. Hands on his hips and smiling, he asked the Colonel if he was enjoying himself today, etc., etc.
The Colonel listened to Stretch for a minute or two in aghast amazement and then waved his hand to silence the stiltwalker. He sent him a little further out in the yard to see what in the hell was chasing his assistant who was incidentally riding the Segway.
“What the hell is that, Colonel?” Stretch asked.
“Not sure.” The Colonel wiped his brow with one of the twenty’s he had inside his straw hat.
“Well, Colonel . . .” Stretch said as he shaded his eyes and looked over toward “No Man’s Land”.
“I can see from here, Colonel.” drawled the Stiltwalker.
“It appears to be – appears to be . . .”
“Appears to be what?”
The Stiltwalker turned and looked down toward the Colonel.
The Colonel looked up at Stretch.
“Colonel, that appears to be a flock or herd of chickens – hens, it seems!”
“How many? We only have room for 170.”
“Including the waitlist?”
The Colonel looked out toward the commotion and suddenly burst out laughing.
“Including the waitlist, – that’s a good one Stretch!!!”
Stretch laughed nervously until the Colonel asked for a head count.
“I’m going to guess over 500 Colonel!”
“500 you say – wow!”
The Colonel kept watching the dust and commotion. “This is going to be a blast, eh Stretch?”
“Do you think they all got together in the last month, Stretch?” asked the Colonel
“Not sure, Colonel.”
“Aw, hell, no cares about that kind of stuff anyway.” The Colonel looked down at the little robot butler-thing next to his rocker. “Fetch me another jug, you little creepy thing.”
The contraption just stood there. No movement.
“Damn thing is worthless, isn’t it Stretch?”
“Yep. Kind of a Frankenstein kinda thing. You want me to ask the Evening Clown to have it added to tonight’s pyro show?”
The Colonel kept watching the commotion in the yard. “Nah. Let’s see what’s going on here with all these damned hens first.”
The Morning Clown watched through the tear in his show tent. He heard everything and could see the commotion. He saw the little volunteer kids starting to pull their water cart around the walkway. He looked away from the volunteer kids back to the noise. He knew what was coming from that ruckus and he didn’t want the kids to see the tear running down his cheek. His job was to chalk out the booths for the day, he had to stay focused, nothing more. He turned and reached for his “Art Carnie” hat.
“Sure is hot.” he murmured to himself.
-End Part I-