“Murder Chicken”

This originally started as a prompt on More Odds than Ends over 18 months ago and appeared as “Murder Chicken”. Over the next several months a few more segments were added, but it has languished for almost a year. I pulled it back out over the long Thanksgiving weekend and finally got it to wrap up. For an added bonus, I found a spare prompt to add.

The first prompt, from 2020, week 15: “The chicken is a basketball sized bundle of greed and hate”

The second prompt, from week 21: “I looked down, and my legs were covered with thousands of tiny feathers.” With a bonus prompt of the photo of black vulture used as the header for that week.

The third prompt, from week 50, was the photo of some berries that was the header for that week.

The fourth prompt is from week 45 of 2021.

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

After I merged it together and cleaned up a bit of spelling I decided that it needed a better title. So, here, in its complete form is The Case of the Black Rooster

The Case of the Black Rooster

Robin sighed and leaned against the stair railing for a moment.  When they’d first opened the business having a second floor office hadn’t seemed that bad.  Of course they had failed to take into consideration long days spent running all over Northern Virginia.

Star barely glanced over at the door opened, pausing just long enough to wave before turning back to her conversation.  “I don’t know Rhea.  I’ve got a couple of birds in rehab right now.”

Robin kicked the door closed with her heel and gave her sister a half wave as she headed for the back office.

“Robin you might not …” Rhea tried to stop her sister from opening the door.

Robin got half a step inside before stopping and staring.  There was a mass of black feathers sitting in the middle of the room.  At first glance it looked like a black basketball; a basketball with eyes that were glaring at her.

The feathered basketball stood up and fluffed his feathers.  Robin backed out of the office and closed the door when he started coming towards her.

“That’s a chicken.”  Robin pointed at the door.

“Yeah.”  “Uh-hun.”  Star and Rhea answered.

Robin peeked through the door.  The chicken was standing just inside glaring at her.  “A rather big chicken that looks pissed.”  She closed the door again and turned around.  “Why is there a chicken in the office?”  There was a pregnant silence in the room.  “You guys aren’t planning on making that dinner or anything?”

Star chuckled softly and shook her head.

“Would you believe he’s a murder suspect?”  Rhea asked.

Robin glanced over her shoulder at the door, recalling the fury she’d seen in his eyes.  “Actually, yeah, I would.  But that doesn’t explain why he is in my office.”

“I needed someplace I could secure him.  He got out of his box just as I got here and ended up in there.  We closed the door to keep him in.”

“We tried to get him into the file room, but the bloody bugger insisted on staying in your office.  Wanted more space I guess.” Star added.  “Truth be told, I’m just glad he didn’t insist on having the entire office.

“You couldn’t just call Animal Control?”

“Animal Control would probably put him down when he tried to attack a human.  I remembered that you guys were in semi-rural areas and had big yards.”  Rhea gave her a hopeful look.

“My property backs onto a nature preserve; I have predators that come through every night.  Although, that sucker might give them a run for their money.”

Robin glanced over at Star, one eyebrow raised.  Star shrugged in response.

“Okay, I’ll try, on one, no two conditions.”

“What is this, an episode of Magnum?”  Rhea looked between the partners.  “I’m not Higgins.”

“No, Magnum’s cases were far too unrealistic.”  Star smothered a grin.

Rhea rolled her eyes and leaned back in the couch.  “What?”

“One, you provide for a pen and the upkeep.”

“Fine, done.  I can get a big dog pen or something.”

“Two: Obon is coming up.”

“Which one?” Rhea half snorted.

“Hachigatsu Bon and Kyū Bon fall in the same time frame this year.”

Rhea stood up and walked to the window.  She absently scratched the neck of Star’s Snowy owl, Skylar, as she stared down at Market Street.  “I don’t do the festivals.”

“Neither do I.”  Robin leaned against the wall and crossed her arms.  “But it is a nice time to visit the graves, leave some flowers, and get together with family.”

“That’s it?” Rhea half turned.  “No traditional costumes, lanterns or dancing?”

“That’s it.”  Robin looked at Star and raised an eyebrow.

“Of course.  Like you need to ask.” Star smiled at her partner.

“Two cemetery visits and dinner at my place.”

“I think I can manage that.” Rhea finally nodded.  “I’ll have to request time off, so I can’t say which day it’ll be.”

“Works for me.  Let me know what date you get, we’ll close early that day and meet you at Union.”

“Good.  Now about the chicken?”  Rhea looked towards the closed office door, grimacing at what sounded like scratching behind that door.

Star pushed back from the desk and stood up.  “You go get whatever it is you need to contain the beast, we’ll round up the chicken and meet you at Robin’s house.”

Rhea nodded and scooped up her keys from the table on the way out the door.

“I trust you have something in mind?”  Robin gave her friend a long stare.

“Yep.”  Star smiled.  “Skylar, wanna help catch the bird?”

Skylar turned from preening her chest feathers and blinked at Star.  “Skylar help, Skylar catch bird.  Chicken tasty.”

“Don’t eat the bird.”

Skylar sighed and shifted to her true form of a giant bat like being.  “Skylar not eat.  Nibble?”

A noise that sounded suspiciously like a muffled giggle came from the other side of the room.

“You’re not helping, Yokama.”

“Skylar,” Robin spoke around a laugh.  “You help us catch this bird and I’ll get you a chicken from the grocery store.”

Skylar pondered the offer for a moment.  Chicken from the grocery store didn’t have those messy feathers to deal with, but they lacked the tasty organs.  On the other foot, they didn’t run away or fight back.  “Okay,” she trilled.  She launched from the perch and landed next to the door.

Robin opened the door a hands width and watched Skylar squeeze through.  The chicken squawked a warning that was answered by a hiss from Skylar.  A few seconds later there was some squawking and banging followed by some trills then silence.  Skylar stuck her head in the opening.

“Bird in corner.  Skylar not hurt.”

“Great, thank you Skylar.”  Star grabbed up the carry box that Rhea had been using to carry the bird and went into the inner office.

They found the feathered basketball huddled in the far corner, glaring at them but not moving.  Skylar crouched a few feet away, periodically showing her teeth.

With Skylar’s help they maneuvered the bird into the box and closed it.  It took several minutes, a bit of fussing and a few curses muttered in various languages, to get the box loaded into the back of Robin’s truck.  She refused to have it in the cabin with her.  Star headed to her place to take care of the raptors she had in rehab.

15 minutes later Robin pulled in her driveway and parked next to her sister’s Honda.  She found Rhea in the back with a largish box next to a stack of wire panels.

“One of the dog handlers had a spare kennel.  Best I could get on short notice.  I figured once we got this up, I could run to hardware store and get some canvas tarps or something to serve as a cover.”

“Okay, guess that will work.  Canvas should stop most but the most determined predator.  Oh, your murder suspect is in the back of Blue.  I left the cap open.”

The regular owner had given clear assembly instructions so they were able to get the run up in just under an hour.  It stood almost as tall as Robin and half again as wide; just large enough for the chicken to move around but small enough to keep him somewhat controlled.

They brought the carry box into the run and opened the door.  Rhea left to find some kind of covering for the run while Robin stood at the gate and watched the bird that seemed content to glare at her from the box.

Finally figuring that the bird could at least use some water, Robin turned to go inside.  She noticed a black vulture sitting on a tree on the edge of the property, but paid it little attention since vultures prefer carrion to live prey.  It did remind her of something she needed to do though.

“Fido,” she called as she opened the back door.

The daemon loped out from the back room.  He pulled up a few feet away and sat up on his haunches.  “Momma sister gone?”

“Yes, she is gone for now.  But she’s going to be back shortly.”

Fido nodded.  “Fido behave.  No speak.”

“Thank you.  I have a second favor to ask.  There is a bird, a chicken, in the back yard.  He’s going to be with us for a little while.  I would like you to leave him alone.”  Fido sat back and blinked at her as he pondered her request.  “It’s Rhea’s bird,” she added.

“Fido do.  No like chicken.”

“Thank you.”  She turned to get a pan for water and stopped when they heard the sound of a creature in pain.  She went out the door, Fido loping along at her heels.

She found the chicken and vulture tumbling around the pen.  The vulture had apparently decided that a pinned in chicken would make a nice meal.  Tossing caution aside she opened the gate and went in.  Rhea would kill her if the chicken was badly hurt.  Wadding into the mass of black feathers, she started trying to separate the birds.  Fido lent a paw by pinning the vulture down while Robin waved her arms at the chicken.

The chicken backed off a few feet, giving her a murderous glare.  Taking a deep breath, Robin looked down and saw her legs were covered with tiny dark feathers.  She looked back at the chicken and tried to figure out how she was going to examine him for injuries.  She was about to pull her phone out and call Star and ask her to bring her rescue kit, when Fido spoke up.


Fido still had the vulture in his paws, but he wasn’t pinning it down.  He had his ears back and head cocked in puzzlement.  The vulture was covered in blood.

“Take it out of the pen.”  She slowly backed out keeping an eye fixed on the chicken.  There was not visible sign of blood on him.  Once outside she closed and locked the gate before pulling out her phone.

“Star, can you bring your rescue kit?”  She eyed the beaten and bloodied vulture.  “I have a new patient for you.”

Star arrived a few minutes later.  “What happened?”  She set the carry box and medical bag down to take a look at the bird.  Fido shifted out of the way but kept a paw near incase the vulture decided to try to escape.

“Rhea’s murder suspect decided that he didn’t want to be dinner.  Your patient found out that some chickens are mean.”

“Any injury to the chicken?” Star asked over her shoulder.

“I don’t think so, but I couldn’t see.”  Robin leaned against the wire and looked at the feathered basketball.

“Got a few punctures, looks like the chicken spurred him.  Can’t find anything broken.”

“Good.”  Robin moved around the side of the pen to get a different angle.  The chicken shifted to keep eye contact.  “He’s not making it easy but I think I see something wet and shiny on his feathers.”

Star wrapped the worst of the wounds and put the vulture in the carry box.  “I’ll see if I can get a look.”

Fido stood up and looked from the humans to the chicken, then back.  A moment later he was loping over to the wire.  When Robin opened the gate, he slipped in and made a beeline for the chicken. 

At first the bird stood up and tried to make himself look larger, puffing his feathers out, and clicking at the daemon.  Fido pulled up a few strides away and then flicked his ears, arched his back, and started trilling.

The chicken tried to dart around to the side only to discover that Fido was as fast as his mongoose cousins.  He whipped around and snapped his teeth millimeters from the bird.

The bird tried again to make an attack and was met with teeth again.  Finally he tried to just get past just only to find his way blocked by a golden body.  The cat and mouse game continued for a few minutes before the chicken backed up against the wire on the far side and just glared at Fido and the humans.

“No attack.  Star safe come.”

“Are you a daemon or a border collie?” Star half laughed at Fido’s success at getting the agitated chicken cornered without conflict.

Robin’s eyebrow flicked up for a second.  “It’s possible he’s both.  As far as I know, there’s little stopping daemons of similar type from breeding.  Of course it’s unlikely that the ancestor in question is an actual border collie, more likely to have been a predecessor of the Border collie.”

Star chuckled.  “Leave it to you to answer a rhetorical question with a lesson in daemonology.”

Robin just gave her long stare, both eyebrows raised.

Star grinned at her best friend and went into the enclosure, walking up to the cornered chicken. 

Just as Star reached the bird, Skylar popped out of the Chaos Realm, made a quick pass around the pen then settled on the wire just above the chicken.  The daemon made a small snapping sound with one of her thumb claws giving the chicken a warning against violence on her human.

The chicken looked between Star, Fido and Skylar.  Fido was chittering a soft warning and Skylar hissed at every movement.  Somewhere in the back of the tiny brain neurons fired and told him to stay still.

Star gave him a quick examination, looking for obvious wounds, broken bones and bald patches. 

“The only thing I’m finding is juice from those berries back here.”  She held up a gloved hand to show a red stain, then pointed at the bush on the border of the cleared area and the trees that served as a buffer between the yard and the nature preserve.  “Might spook someone who didn’t get a good look, but I can’t find any injuries.”

“Good.”  Robin backed up to the gate and opened it without turning around.  “It would take Rhea a long time to forgive me if her main suspect was harmed while in custody.”

Star had the vulture loaded and was on her way to a friend who specialized in vulture rehabbing before Rhea arrived with the tarps to cover the enclosure.

Robin decided, in the interest of familial harmony, to remain silent on the incident.

“That should keep him out of the sun and rain.”  Robin tied off the last corner and motioned Rhea back towards the house.  They walked across the thirty yards of somewhat open area that served as Robin’s back yard and went inside.

“So, you gonna tell me why y’all think that bird killed someone?”

Rhea dropped gracelessly into one of the chairs at the kitchen table.  “If you’d see the victim you’d know.  The bird had obviously been at him.”

“Hun.”  Robin poured a couple of cups of coffee and strolled over to sit across the table.  “I don’t know anything about chickens,” she said as she shoved a cup towards Rhea, “except that they taste good, especially fried.  But Star knows a thing or two about birds, and she did some quick research.  It would be very hard for an average chicken to kill an otherwise healthy human.”

“Could be he fell in the pen, tripped over something, and the rooster went for him, you’ve seen how aggressive he is.”

“What’s the M.E. say?”

Rhea rolled her eyes.  “Unlike CSI or NCIS, real M.E.s don’t get the all results the same day as the death.  The best we have right now is TOD.”

Robin snorted softly.  “I prefer Dr. G and Forensic Files anyway, far more realistic. So how’d you get involved?  Not like Fairfax has any agricultural areas.” Robin sipped at her coffee. 

Rhea chuckled and set her cup down.   “You’d think so, wouldn’t you.  But we do have a couple of community gardens and the odd urban garden.  This particular chicken is from a home that borders one of the community gardens.  Seems they have an agreement with the parks and rec to keep a couple of chickens just inside the garden area for eggs.”

“I thought Country had something about roosters,” Robin started looking through the mail that was neatly stacked on the table.  Bills went to one side, junk mail to the others.

“They do.  I think that may be another reason they wanted the bird seized.”  Rhea spotted an envelope with a Loudoun County seal in the corner in the bill stack.  “Eh, what’s this?”

“Oh, county wants my land so they can add a buffer zone to the landfill, plus they want to pave the road, after they move it.  Seems the priss-buckets with the quarter a-million homes on the other side of the preserve don’t want to get their precious SUV’s dirty driving on a gravel road.  But the last offer Loudoun made would barely give me enough for a down payment on a shoebox.”

“Ah, yeah.  I don’t blame you.  I remember the shape it was in when you bought it.  So I take it, you’re fighting?”

“Oh, hell Yeah.  I’d rather not move, I’ve put a lot of time and money into rehabbing the house, and there is still more to do.   But if push comes to shove, I at least want what the tax office says it is worth.”  Robin abruptly stood up, grabbing the mug and junk mail and raised an eyebrow at Rhea.  Her sister glanced down at her own mug and shook her head.  With a small nod she turned and walked over to the sink.  “You off tomorrow?”

Rhea shook her head at the seeming non sequitur; a person learned to get use to things like that with Robin.  “Yeah, why?”

“Good, stay the night.  You left a change of clothes in the back room.”  Robin washed out and dried her mug, put it in the cabinet and wiped the counter down before turning to shred the junk mail.  “We can go find out why someone was poking around a chicken pen.”

Rhea paused in mid sip, staring at her younger sister.  “We do have people to do that, you know.”

Yes, yes, I know” Robin muttered in Japanese over her shoulder.  “But you don’t get to tag along with them.”

“Don’t you have cases you’re working on?” 

“Sure,” Robin cleaned up the small bits that escaped the shredder and put them in the bin, “but now that you’ve gotten me involved, I want to know what happened.”

“Okay, you win.”  Rhea laughed; going along with Robin and watching her work could be fun.

“Great.  Let me grab a shower and we’ll pop a movie in.”

“Sounds good, where you put the Godzilla flicks?”  Rhea grabbed up her mug and started around the divider to the entertainment center.

“Gojira”, Robin absently corrected as she headed for the shower, “is on the middle shelf, left hand side, by year of release.”

The next morning Robin came out of her room to find Rhea staring longingly at the coffee maker.  The carafe was only half full.  “I trust you remembered to use the bottled water and not tap.” She tilted her chin towards the water cooler near the pantry.  “EPA may say the water is safe, but I still prefer to cook with the bottled stuff.”

“Yeah,” Rhea barely looked away from the coffee slowly trickling down, “your water tastes funny.”

Robin chuckled and reached up for a second mug.  “Well water tastes different from city water.” 

Rhea finally looked over and noticed that Robin was wearing a light blue polo style shirt with the 4-Winds logo on the left breast and black cotton twill pants.  Nothing like what she’s seen her kid sister wear in the office. 

“What?”  Robin laughed at Rhea’s expression.  “You said the chickens were kept near a community garden.  Did you expect that I would go poking around a garden and livestock in a business suit?”

“I guess it never occurred to me that you had casual dress for the business.”

“Star’s idea.  She thought that something that identified us when we’re doing field interviews might be nice.  Oh, here,” she tossed her sister a shirt, “if you’re going to go with me you may as well look the part.” The shirt was same color as the one she had on.

“Ah.”  Rhea looked from the shirt to the window.

“My nearest neighbor to the north is almost a quarter of a mile away and the ones on the south whinny.”

Rhea sighed softly and pulled off her FPD shirt and quickly replaced it with the 4-Winds one.  Before she had the shirt tucked in Robin had two mugs of coffee poured.

Breakfast was quickly and quietly consumed.  Once the dishes were washed and put back up, Robin called the office to let Star know that she wouldn’t be coming in, and why.  Rhea stored her uniform and pistol in the trunk of her car.

The trip to Fairfax passed by talking about work, boyfriends, and trying to hold down a household by yourself.  Just under an hour after leaving Robin’s house they were turning off of Route 50 into an older neighborhood in Fairfax.

“Mrs. Richardson,” Robin gave the older woman standing in the doorway a soft smile and half nod that Grandmother would expect to an elder.

“Yes?”  The woman brushed back a lock of steal grey hair that had escaped her bun.

“My name is Robin Yokama; I’m with Four Winds Detective Agency.  I wanted to ask you a few questions about the incident involving your rooster.”

“Oh?”  Mrs. Richardson’s gaze flickered from Robin’s face, to the logo on her shirt then over her shoulder to Rhea.  “I see’d you yesterday, right?”

“Yes, Ma’am.  I was here yesterday.”

“You took Reginald.”

“Reginald?”  Robin raised an eyebrow.

“My bird.  The girls belong to the others, Reggie is mine.”

“Ah.”  The sisters both nodded.

“I have Reginald at my home outside Leesburg.  My friend works with birds and is helping keep an eye on him.”

“You ain’t gonna hurt’em, is ya?”

“I won’t harm him,” Robin softly emphasized the pronoun.

Mrs. Richardson looked from sister to sister and slowly nodded.  “Come in, sit a spell.”  She waved them through the door.  “Would you girls like some tea?”

“No, thank you.”  Robin settled into an old overstuff chair decorated with lace while Rhea opted for the couch.  Robin pulled a notebook from her purse.  “What can you tell me about Reginald?”

“You mean ‘sides he’s a chicken?”

“Yes.”  Robin carefully kept her expression neutral as Rhea coughed to cover a laugh.  “What is he like?” 

Mrs. Richardson eyed her for a moment, trying to decide if this girl was putting her on or really was interested.  She looked between the girls before deciding that they seemed to be honest.

“Me an’ some folks wanted to set up a coop, get some fresh eggs.  I had some space at the back o’the yard.  An’ with the community garden there, it seemed just right.  They agreed so we set up that coop and started getting some birds.  I picked this cute little bit of black and yellow fluff.  Didn’t know he was a boy then. I put the chick in wit the others and let ‘er grow.  I jus though my girl was a slow grower when she didn’t start to lay by 6 month, but she was so dang pretty I didn’t have the heart to put her to stew.  When she hit near a year I found out she was a he; that Regina was a Reginald.  He’d started to crow.  The girls seemed to like him an’ he protected them, so the rest of the group decided that t’wer okay to keep ‘em.  Thems that have reason to be in the coop, he jus glare at and maybe follow.  But he will get territorial with them that didn’t belong in the coop.”

“Has he ever offered to hurt anyone before?”  Rhea asked.

“No.  He let me hold him any time I want.  He may puff up and come at someone like he was gonna hurt ‘em, but all he ever does is peck at their shoes.  ”

Robin kept her head down jotting notes, struggling to keep a neutral expression as she remembered the vulture Reggie had beat up.  “What about other birds?”

“I recon he’d go after another rooster, but he gentle with the girls.”

“What about if he felt threatened?”

“He might fight back, I guess.” 

“You said it was a shared coop, so does everyone have access to it?”

“Oh, no.  We keep a padlock on it.  Only them that have birds in there have the combination.”

Rhea picked up where Robin was going with her questions and asked a follow-up of her own.  “Would any of them have reason to want to harm Reggie?”

“Well, Ernest Drummond protested the chickens ever since we got the coop.  He said they were smelly an’ noisy.”  Mrs. Richardson fussed with the hem of her shirt for a moment.  “But I can’t imagine that he’d try to hurt any of them.”

Robin cocked her head and raised an eyebrow at her sister, receiving a nod in return:  Ernest Drummond just happened to be the victim.  She settled back and let Rhea take lead on the questions.

“So do you have any idea why Mr. Drummond would be in the coop?”

“I guess he could gone in to take some eggs.”

 “How did Mr. Drummond get in if the coop was locked?” 

“Oh,” Mrs. Richardson went back to fussing with her shirt hem, “I guess he could’a got it from one of the others, or someone didn’t lock-up right.”

“Do you think we could see the coop?”  Robin cut in.  The woman was obviously getting stressed over the questions; it was time to give her a small break.

“Oh, sure.”  The older woman set her cup down, stood up and headed for the kitchen.  “It’s quicker this way.”

As they went through the dining area Robin spotted a piece of embroidery hanging on the wall.  A short, 4-line, verse stitched in black against the American flag. 

“When you go home,

tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow,

we gave our today.”

All trace of emotion left Robin’s face as she read the brief poem.

“Oh.”  Rhea stopped a step behind Robin.

Mrs. Richardson glanced up at the piece.  “For my Bobby.  He was in Desert Storm.”

“My condolences.  Our dad was in ‘Nam, but he managed to come home.”  Rhea told her.

“He was killed in the line of duty a few years ago.” Robin added softly.

“Oh, so you understand it.”  It was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes, ma’am, we do.”

“I didn’t realize that y’all were sisters.” Mrs. Richardson remarked as they continued through the kitchen.

“Most people don’t,” Rhea chuckled.

They stepped out onto a back patio that was ringed by potted plants, soil and empty pots and the odd gardening tool.  Several yards away was a three by three and half meter pen made of sturdy four by four and wire, mounted on wheels.  One side of the pen was a wooden box that served as a house/nesting box of the chickens.

“Here they be.  Normally they be out and ‘bout, but with all the fuss yesterday and the cops wantin’ to come back out, we left ‘em up for today.”

“I see it’s moveable,” Rhea eyed the wheels, “has it been moved since night before last?”

Mrs. Richardson opened the pen and stepped back.  “It may’ve shifted a bit, but no one has touched it to move it.”

“Good.”  Rhea nodded and stepped into the pen, Robin a step behind her.

The Yokama sisters looked around the pen; the grass was still flattened where Mr. Drummond had fallen and there were feathers, mostly black, scattered around. 

Rhea sighed softly.  It was obvious there had been a fight of some kind, but beyond that all she could see was the feathers and traces of blood on the grass.  She turned to look at the gate and framing to see if the lock had been tampered with.

Robin stood in the middle of the pen and looked from the door of the house to the gate, to the flattened grass and the frame.  She walked over to the house and knelt down, looking again to the gate and flattened grass. Standing up she slowly paced forward, eyeing the ground as she walked.  Halfway between the house and the framing she turned sideways and knelt again.  After a moment she shifted over to the frame.  She nudged her glasses up to try and get a better look at something in the shadows.


Rhea glanced over from the gate.  “Hun?”

“What do you see here?”  Robin pointed to a spot on the frame.

Rhea stepped over and squatted down next to her sister.  “Looks like possibly some hair caught in wood and maybe a speck of blood.  Hard to tell without …”

“Matte,” Robin suddenly turned and stared out of the coop.


“Choto matte,” Robin called over her shoulder and hurried across the yard.  She returned a few minutes later carrying a small grey leather case.  

“You have an EV kit?”

“Not as good as what your CS team would have, but it serves us when we do have to handle evidence.”

She pulled out a pair of gloves, a couple of swabs, small bottle of water and a Hemastix bottle.  A few moments later she was holding the Hemastix tab up to the side of the bottle.  “Well, I can tell you that it is blood.  Whether it is human or not would be up to your guys to determine.  But,” she rocked back on her heels, “I’d bet a dinner at Dante’s that it is, and it is Drummonds.”

Rhea arched an eyebrow.  “Okay, Poirot, what are you seeing?”

Robin retuned the quizzical gaze with a small smile.  “Look at the ground over here,” she pointed a few feet away.  “See how it is disturbed, like a heel pushed in it up?”  She pointed her finger and drew a line to the frame.  “See how it lines up with the spot on the frame?  I postulate that Drummond came in here, for whatever reason; Reggie charged out.  Mrs. Richardson did say that Reggie would peck at shoes so they may have struggled a bit, based on the feathers and flattened grass.  Drummond back peddled, lost his balance and fell, striking his head on the frame.”

Rhea looked at the spots Robin pointed at and nodded.  “Knocking himself out at best.  Reggie attacked his face and neck, perhaps trying to defend his flock.  Pecking, not spurring, which I think is relevant. ”

“Did you find something?”  Mrs. Richardson peered into the coop from beside the chicken house.

“Reasonable doubt,” Robin told her.

A few days later Rhea came over with Mrs. Richardson.  The older lady burbled a greeting and pushed a large carton of eggs at Robin.

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

“I really didn’t do anything.  I’m sure the CS team had all the information before I stuck my nose in.”

“Oh, piffle, they were set to kill Reggie, sayin’ he was dangerous.”  Robin just raised her eyebrow and looked at Rhea.  “You girls were at least willing to give him a chance.”  She trotted over to the makeshift pen, knelt down and started cooing at the feathered football.   Reggie came over and tried to push his head through the wire.

Rhea quietly laid a folded piece of paper on the egg carton.  “M.E. says Drummond died of a Basal Skull fracture in the occipital region.  The wounds to his face and neck are all post-mortem.”

“Which explains them releasing the bird, let alone so quickly.”

“Unhm.  She also said that they found a small envelope of a green powder in his pocket.  Preliminary labs show it to be crushed Bromethalin.”

Robin glanced towards the pen where Mrs. Richardson was moving to open the gate.  “I’m guessing that is something harmful to the bird.”

“Very.  Its rat poison” Rhea nodded.  “Ah, I also got a message from investigations: quote – We can bloody well do our jobs, thank you.  We were waiting on the M.E. – unquote.  Unofficially, nice job.  Just be careful whose toes you tread on.  Not everyone is quiet so understanding.”

Inside the pen Mrs. Richardson was sitting in the grass happily cuddling Reggie.

A note of thanks to members of Sarah’s diner on MeWe for answering some questions about chickens and just exactly how dangerous they are.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found it was worth your time.

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