The trail was long, and she missed her stool at Bmwhtly's Pb and Grb, and its lack of vowels except for the "sometimes y." Ol' Pappy probably missed her too, or not if the newbie in her stool tipped better. She missed Crispy's chatter.
Because Three had gotten his own tent after the Snake B. Bauer incident, she sat alone with her baster and lantern. On impulse, she grabbed her cell phone and dialed Crispy. His holograph popped up in her tent, holding a pint of ale.
"Tha's my girl," he grinned. "I got someone I wantcha to meet!" Crispy pulled a smiling brunette into the holograph. She was slightly bohemian and at least fifteen years his junior. "This is Paprika, Paprika Pink!" She waved. "Lovely, ain't she? She's my ghost-writer. Got a book deal yanno."
"No ducklin'! A sweet deal too. I tell her about my life, and she's writin' it all down, all poetic and stuff."
Paprika laughed, "Really he's a great storyteller. I just take out the apostrophes and add "g's"." She did seem sweet.
"Good for you, Crispy."
He leaned in towards her, "Spicy little thing too, har, har! I'll letcha go. Why don'tcha go see what Three's doin'. Yanno, he ain't so bad, like I said."
She coughed, "Gotta go! Coughing...fit... 'kay thanks bye!" She thought about it: the tent next door and the golden boy within who was taut like turkey jerky on a stick. The roar of an engine brought her out of her reverie. She rushed outside with her baster raised.
"Son of a pullet!" she snarled. Snake B. Bauer was riding in circles around their camp. He threw popcorn kernals into the camp fire with explosive results. She aimed her baster and pulled the trigger, but he had swerved at the last minute and disappeared into the night. At least she hit his ATV; he'd smell like garlic for a week. She shared her expletives.
"Three motioned to his tent. "Will you come in? You want to talk?"
She dropped her head and entered his tent. It was very fancy; he had cable. "Why don't you tell me more about the chickens in your past?" she asked, more subdued than usual.
"No way," he said as he pulled out a bottle of Oolong spirits. She hadn't seen any of that since Crispy's last toga party. "Tell me about you. I want to know why you're such a cranky old hen."
She chuckled and sat down on a goose-down bolster. "It's a long, sad story. You've probably heard it before...
I was once the new hotshot in the hen house, reckless and cocky. All I thought about was glory back then." She took the snifter from Three. "Crispy took a liking to me, and we blasted through a ton of chickens. I was young and had no sense of mortality. I just wanted to make a name for myself to rival Grandpa Otto's."
"It was a hot summer in southern Kansas. We were on a spree, racking up oven-stuffer-roasters as if there were no tomorrow. I still remember that day: ninety degrees, a hot wind from the South, and the smell of chicken feed. A rowdy flock of Death Chickens clucked in our path. We started on the perimeter, but I wanted more. I broke rank and dove into the center of the bunch. Marinade squirted in all directions; it was a slaughterhouse and I was the executioner. I lost sight of Crispy, but I paid no mind. Next thing I know I had them on the run- straight into Crispy. He fought and worked through them, but he was flanked by the two toughest, stringiest birds on the field. I tried to circle back to him, but it was sheer chaos. Wattles and claws blocked my path time and again. I saw it in slow motion. An enraged hen grabbed him by the leg and flicked him in the air. I can still hear the thud he made when he landed at my feet. He was unconscious, dripping blood. I fought off the Death Chickens in blind fury. If the rest of the team hadn't moved in for reinforcement, I would have lost him. Our best team sniper took out the last chicken as she plunged at Crispy. I had run out of marinade. Bad judgement, bad tactics: I was a bad partner. That was me. I was like a cheap chicken patty,all breading with no real meat inside. Crispy never blamed me for losing his leg. He should have." She finished off her snifter. Three poured her another.