The sun was rising, but there was still no sign on the radar. Rays glistened on the field like the golden crust of a Mrs. Budd's chicken pot pie, and the grasses swayed like Three's silky hair in the morning breeze- stop that! "Focus!" Grimironie thought. This stake-out was wrong from the start. It defied her first cardinal rule: go where the food is.
"Pack up, we're moving," Grimironie said into her walkie-talkie. The crows were descending on her bait already. She folded her camo-cover and locked her munitions onto Ole Plucky. Three appeared from his sniper position and loaded his supplies onto his ATV.
They rode down-wind for miles, scanning the country for likely food supplies. She slowed as she passed ravaged McMansions. Here and there lay pieces of granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. It was enough to make an HGTV host cry. Luckily, she was a seasoned DCDA, and knew how to shake it off.
Her radio had been silent all morning. There had been no new sightings of a rogue capon, but she trudged on. Ole Plucky was getting a workout. They investigated every odd radar blip, and stopped only long enough to admire the world's largest popcorn ball in Sac City, Iowa. "I wonder," thought Grimironie as she admired its sugar-glazed rotundness. With a little wheeling and dealing, and the use of a company expense account, she attached a hitch to Ole Plucky and hauled the ball away on a flatbed trailer. She doubted she'd ever be welcome in Sac City again, but it didn't matter. If all went well, she'dhave enough sponsorship to make a bigger ball.
* * * *
She was doing her best to be nice and pleasant to Three; she still felt guilty about her harsh outbursts. The problem was, nice and pleasant had been skills she'd long abandoned. Perhaps, "Your ATV is very shiny today" was lame, but it was the best she could do. They started setting up camp when a tremor reverberated through the field. They took to their ATVs right away. It was close to sundown, but she'd take Capon Frank after dark without hesitation. Even school children knew that roosters didn't lay eggs.
As they neared a copse of trees, another tremor shook them. Once she cleared the copse, she saw the damage: a farmhouse lay in a heap of rubble; its infrastructure was still collapsing. A tell-tale sign ran behind it: flattened rows of corn made a path toward the sunset, exactly like a crop circle, except it wasn't a circle, it was straight. And is wasn't made by aliens. It wouldn't make a cool picture in an arial view either. Nope.
She sped down the non-circle crop circle path with Three following closely. As the corn gave way to grassy plain, the trail disappeared. "Could it be?" she wondered, "Could Capon Frank have learned stealth tactics?" She'd never seen a big bird disappear like that, a snufflufagus maybe, but not a big bird.
Three was poised in a curious stance, sniffing the air. The wind had changed, and he shook his head in frustration. "It's a rooster all right," he whispered. "Sometimes he wears L'Air du Temps, but not today. I, for one, can not smell his pellets."
"Very impressive," said Grimironie, letting on that she was impressed. Three shook his head knowingly.
"It's a talent I have," he smiled, "I just need a few fava beans to clear my palate."
The sun set. They returned to camp and plotted their course for the morning.
* * * *
The Death Chicken Watch team landed before they could make any ground toward Capon Frank. They followed them like a pack of fleas, but less itchy.
"Have you and Billy-Ray, ahem, made amends?" Maryn Stew grilled. "Is there a new love interest in the works?"
Grimironie did her best to ignore them. Three, to her delight, made an excellent statement, "Look out! Knoll!" The Death Chicken Watch crew promptly collided with the hill. She and Three lost them.
The last fields they had driven through were acres of plowed, hard dirt. Ole Plucky's shocks had taken a beating, and her posterior absorbed a good bit of damage. She turned off the engine after they found a long-awaited patch of grass; they could be miles off Capon Frank's trail. It would be better to regroup in the morning. The temperature had dropped to 45 degrees farenheit, and a damp wind blew. She hurried to set up her tent.
"You wouldn't mind sharing that tonight?" Three asked. "I have no body hair to keep me warm. I had croup when I was a baby. Don't remember it, but I hear it was awful. I'd hate to catch it again."
Grimironie couldn't begrudge him shelter. "Mmm," she grunted, "but no monkey business." She didn't reveal that she really liked monkeys: spider monkeys, rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees. They were all good, except for baboons. She didn't regret her decision; Three was so full of hot air that his snores warmed the tent nicely.
She woke at five AM, but left Three, who was spooning his baster, to sleep in. She set up her radar, GPS and seismograph. She had two choices: work hard or work smart.