Gerard arrived first, and a brief glance told me his attitude seemed to have worsened. Then he opened his mouth, and my suspicions were confirmed.
“Where is everybody? Look, a whole bunch of eggs are waiting for me! Gotta beat the two-leggers!”
“Gotta beat the two-leggers!”
He looked at me warily. “You brought the goods?”
For my answer, I patted the cooler next to me.
He lumbered to a large, fallen tree, climbed on top and glowered.
“Am I late?” squealed the newcomer, and Adele scampered toward us. She stopped next to the tree and looked up at Gerard.
“Hey, aren’t you the one who single-handedly turned over five rubbish bins in front of the enormous white farmhouse down the road?”
Gerard smiled. “You heard about that, did you?”
Adele’s eyes were wide. “Are you kidding? You’re…infamous.”
“Huh?” Gerard grunted.
“No…I mean…ill-famed?” Adele said meekly, and Gerard growled.
“Do you mean famous?” I asked.
Adele’s eyes brightened. “Yes! That’s it!”
She crawled onto the tree and looked at me. “Did you bring it?”
I had pulled the cooler so that it was now in front of the tree. I sat on it, patted the side, and nodded.
Adele grinned. “Well, anyway, it was cool.”
“What was cool?”
I turned around to spy Betts expertly making her way through the undergrowth.
“My hearing is brilliant,” she called to us matter-of-factly. “So, what was cool?”
“The rubbish bin caper!” Adele almost shouted.
Betts jumped onto the tree and sat next to Adele.
“Really?” She began to lick her arm and then paused to glance at Gerard. “I heard about that. Exactly two small bins were involved, and they weren’t even full!”
Gerard growled. “Who told you that?”
“Hmm…let me think,” she said. “Percy, I think…yes, it was definitely Percy.”
Gerard growled again. “That old—.”
“What’s your name?” the youngster interrupted, looking at Betts. “I’m Adele!”
“Betts. Aren’t you a little young for this type of activity? You look like you should still be with your—.”
Adele sniffed. “I’ll be full grown soon.”
“You’re a child!” Gerard grumbled, and Adele glared at him.
“You didn’t forget?” Betts asked me, her black eyes narrowing.
I shook my head, and she suddenly turned around.
“Someone is coming!” she cautioned. “It sounds like…Percy!”
“Bah!” Gerard exploded. “How could you know that?”
Betts scowled at Gerard. “I told you my hearing is excellent.”
“I don’t know why I agreed to this!”
All eyes were on Percy as he noisily pushed through a chokecherry thicket, ambled to the log and climbed up to sit next to Betts.
“Stop grumbling, you old fool!” Gerard sneered.
“Hey, my mother once told me about you!” Adele gushed. “Aren’t you the one who cleared out the chicken coop across the creek? Twice?”
Percy folded his arms and smiled. “That would be me, youngster,” he almost purred. “Next time, you can come along! I’ll show you how to open the latches on the doors. Those two-legged creatures sure can be stupid!”
“I’ll show you how to open the latches on the doors.”
The four masked marauders laughed, even Gerard.
Percy was suddenly silent. “Present company excluded,” he said coyly, staring at me, and I smiled.
I should not have been surprised that my four participants had shown up—the promise of a reward was the determining factor, and the “winner take all” rule clinched the deal.
As I listened to their banter, a feeling of sadness crept over me. We could begin now, but the agenda had changed. Everything had changed.
Featured Image by firekitty from Pixabay
Chicken Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Latch Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay
Gerard – Image by HNBS from Pixabay
Adele – Image by edbo23 from Pixabay
Percy – Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay
Betts – Image by AtakOnArt from Pixabay
Next: Part 3 of Twenty Questions: Gardening (or so I thought)