It was a dusty day as Sheriff McCullen drove out to the Day’s Eggs Ranch. The sun beat down creating shimmering waves of heat radiating off the road. The combination created a baking haze. He leaned over and turned up the air conditioner. The drive out to John Hammond’s chicken farm would have been relaxing had he not received word that John had been found dead.
John had been speaking out a great deal as of late against the Poultry Pride processing plant. Their recent practices of shutting out farmers that did not cave to their business demands had been a bone of contention in the area. McCullen had heard farmers complain of undercutting of weights, delivery of spoiled feed and even demands on housing specifications that had made making a profit almost impossible for the local farms. The Sheriff understood their concerns but so far, Poultry Pride had done everything within the bounds of the law.
The Sheriff brought the car to a stop outside the large farmhouse. The ranch hands were milling about and McCullen could see Ms. Hammond on the porch, rocking back and forth. He unfolded from his car and put on his hat as he shut the door. His deputy, Darrell Hanson, hurried over looking a bit pale.
“What’s wrong Dale? You have seen a dead body before.” McCullen frowned at Hanson.
“You are going to have to see for yourself, Sheriff.” The man turned to lead the way through the crowd.
McCullen followed him into the farm house, tipping his hat to Mrs. Hammond as he passed. Hanson led him back through the house to the mud room. There on the floor was John’s body and perched upon it was a large orange rooster. The moment the two men entered, the rooster fluffed up. It began to beat its wings and hissing in anger.
“It won’t let us near him.” Hanson stated with frustration.
“It is a damn rooster, just kick it out of the way.” McCullen moved to kick the rooster off the body but it flew up into the air and began to flap and claw at him. McCullen managed to catch it by the throat and carry it screaming and flapping to the door. He got the door open and tossed it outside.
The Sheriff turned back to look at the body. “Cause of death?” He asked his deputy.
“Not sure. There is no signs of wound or trauma. Maybe a heart attack.” Hanson stated looking around anxiously.
“What are you looking for?”
“That rooster.” Hammond stated.
“It’s outside. What is wrong with you? Coroner is on his way out. Stay with the body. I will go talk to Ms. Hammond.” McCullen stalked out to the porch and made his way to Ms. Hammond.
He blinked in surprise as the rooster he had just tossed outside the back of the house, was now sitting in her lap. “My deepest apologies for your loss, Mrs. Hammond.” He began as he sat down. He eyed the rooster which seemed to be eyeing him back.
“Is that rooster like a house pet?” He asked curiously.
Mrs. Hammond, crossed her arms, her hands passing through the rooster. “What rooster?” She looked about in confusion.
McCullen opened and shut his mouth. How did you explain to a grieving widow that there was a ghost of a chicken on her lap or that you just threw it off her husband’s body?
(any names are incidental and fictional)