Pen came in from the barn for lunch. Today he had Wallace with him, even though I swear Wallace had been in and out the front door seven times in the last hour. I call it like it is -- lazy.
“Daisy’s out again,” I said.
Pen squinted at me like he didn’t speak English. “Again?”
“The gate’s broke wide open,” I said. “She went and scratched around in your sand pile afterwards. You didn’t notice?”
“Oh, sweet petunia,” Pen said, heading back out the door. “C’mon, Wallace.”
Wallace had just plunked down at the kitchen table with a cold beer. Sweat trailed from his temple. “Now?”
“Sure now,” Pen said. He was generally a patient man, but I could see Daisy was trying him. Last time she got out we got a visit from the sheriff 'cause she clawed around in Mrs. Crabapple’s front yard, nibbling her ribbon winning cyclamen and frightening her granddaughter. Or so she said. Nasty old lady.
“That darn bird,” Wallace said, and set down his beer can with a clunk. “Myrna, put that back in the fridge for me, will ya?”
“Only if you promise to catch Daisy before she makes mischief,” I said, fixing him with my stern look.
“S’not my fault she got out!” Wallace had a smart aleck way about him sometimes. I didn’t like it. Sometimes I was about ready to take his sorry butt across my knee, no matter how big he thought he was, and give him a good switching, like I gave my boys when they were little. Kept them from talking smart. And they still don’t dare. Not to their mama.
But I guess, what else can you expect from a Shoemaker? They’ve been known in these parts as an impertinent bunch. I warned Pen when he first thought of hiring Wallace. I said to him, “That boy will give you nothing but sass, Pen Figgins.” But Pen don’t ever listen to me.
“You was the one that rigged up that new fence,” I answered Wallace. “And it didn’t hold right.”
“Why don’t you just shoot her?” Wallace muttered. “Why do you always got to keep her around?”
“'Cause,” I said, putting one hand on my hip. “I needs those eggs. They’s my business venture and you know it.”
“Not worth the trouble,” Wallace said and lumbered out the door after Pen.
“That boy!” I exclaimed, wiping my sweaty hands on my apron. Of course he knew those eggs were our bread and butter. They’re what gave him his paycheck every month, because this farm sure wasn’t supporting any of us. It was my carving rhea eggs and selling them on eBay for big money that brought in our cash flow.
I liked the idea of being an artist. Gave me a lift when I met with people in society. In the grocery store, sometimes I’d hear people whispering when I passed by. “That's Myrna Figgins, the artist,” they’d say.
Artists don’t need to put up with an overgrown Shoemaker boy’s sass, that’s for darn sure. I emptied half the beer from his can down the sink before I set it in the fridge, top shelf.
Myrna for her inspirational words: sand, broken and rhea. When I started this story, I didn't even know what a rhea was, so thanks for forcing me to find out. (To save interested parties a google search, rheas are similar to the Australian emu. They are found in South America, but some people raise them, usually for their eggs or their meat, which apparently tastes like low-fat beef. They are a bit nastier in temperament than emus.)