Nellie McDonald entered the church office and blurted out, “Pastor Robinson, I think one of our church members is in serious trouble.”
“Many are, my dear,” chuckled the wizened minister as he looked up from his partially-written sermon. “I was just trying to find the right words to let ‘em know before it‘s too late.” His smile faded as he saw the stricken look in his secretary’s eyes. “Sit down, Nell, and tell this old buzzard what’s wrong.”
Nellie crumpled into the battered visitors’ chair and sighed. “It’s Florrie Bensen, Pastor. I fear she’s gone totally ‘round the bend. Oh, I know she’s a bit eccentric and sometimes gets into what she calls her ‘flubberments,’ but I do believe her mind is now on a Chesapeake sidetrack without an engine.”
Uh Oh. Jeremiah Robinson put his pen down and leaned back in his chair. Florrie, called “Gram” by most of the townsfolk, was a 70-year-old widow living out her days on the family farm several miles from town. Although a God-fearing woman and generous to a fault, Florrie sometimes (no, make that often) had a knack for either creating or falling into bizarre situations.
Memories flashed through the pastor’s head. There was the hog protest against a land developer, the outhouse fiasco, and the therapy-skunks program for the old folks home. Oh, and the time when Florrie got stuck in a tree trying to save a kitten. That's when fire company had to-. Jeremiah jolted himself back to the present. “Okay, Nellie, what is our old gal up to now?”
“Oh, Pastor, she’s talking to her chickens. Chickens, of all things!”
“Hmm. Well,” reasoned the pastor, “if people talk to their dogs and cats (including me, by the way), why shouldn’t a farmer talk to her chickens?”
Nellie wrung her hands in frustration. “But Pastor, she claims they’re talking back. She told me on the phone the chickens had ’plaints. They demanded that she build them a new coop and that’s why they stopped laying the last coupla’ weeks.”
Pastor Robinson thought Gram might be starting to experience old age dementia and promised Nellie he would stop out to see her.
Jeremiah didn’t get a chance to visit Florrie until the next week. He went up the gravel driveway and noticed a newly constructed shed, complete with a bright blue tin roof sporting a rooster weather vane. Window boxes of colorful nasturtiums sat under its two large windows.
Pastor Robinson started walking toward the house but changed directions when he heard Florrie talking inside the shed. He was almost to the open door before he could clearly hear the woman’s words.
“My, my, Clara, your feathers certainly do shine today. Randy Rooster will be mighty smitten.”
“Izzy, how’s that boil doin’? Did the linament help a might?”
“Wait ‘til you girls see the dandy scratch run I’m gonna put in the back, filled with your favorite grasses planted in pots.”
“And…there’ll be a wire roof to keep y’all safe from that nasty ol’ redtail hawk.”
“Yep, I know, he’s a bad ‘un.”
Jeremiah was getting extremely uncomfortable, but felt cemented to the spot. Lord, how am I going to deal with this sweet, old lady? Please, God, give me the right words.
“My, Sweetie, you’re shore ’nuff welcome. Ladies, let this be a lesson. When y’all got a gripe, tell me right away. I’m not a mind reader, y’know. We’ve gone without eggs for weeks and ‘twasn’t necessary. Well, I see you’re all settled down in your new nests, so I’ll let you go to work and-”
“Florrie.” Pastor Robinson ignored the polished brass rooster-head knocker and called through the doorway. “Can we talk for a minute?”
Gram stepped outside. “Hey, Pastor, nice of you to stop by. How do ya’ like the new henhouse? The girls just moved in today and said they love it.”
“Very nice. Uh, er, Florrie, about the girls talking, uh…”
(luuk, luuk, luuk, luuk, luuk)
“Well, I declare, Reverend, did ya hear that? Let’s take a looksee.”
Peering into the sunlit 'cottage,' they saw 27 hens standing beside their nests peering down at 27 shiny brown eggs.
The pastor never did tell anyone the chickens smiled when they said (look, look, look, look, look) and he also failed to mention that Randy R. politely greeted him with a (Howdy do-ya doooo). He did, however, assure Nellie that Gram was fine, jest fine.
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