“John, breakfast will be ready in 20 minutes,” his mom called from the bottom of the stairs. “You’d better get up and get dressed. The cattle need hay and I need some more eggs. Your dad also needs you to clean out that rabbit hutch first thing after breakfast, so he can put those baby chicks in it until he gets a better place made up for them.”
John sat straight up in bed. “Oh NO!!” John was out of his bed, clothes on, teeth brushed, and downstairs within five minutes. “Hey Mom! Where’s Dad?”
“Well, that was quick,” his mom said, looking up as she flipped the bacon. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you get dressed and ready that fast before. What’s the matter? Are you sick?”
“Ha . . . that’s funny, Mom. So where’s Dad?”
“He’s still upstairs,” Mom said, as she stirred the sausage gravy then took the rest of the bacon out of the skillet.
Just then John heard his dad coming down the stairs. “John, are you up and about already this morning?”
John looked up at his dad as he came into the kitchen. “Hey dad, why aren’t you going to work today?”
“Well, I took a vacation day today in order to get that rabbit hutch fixed up and some things done up around the barn.” Charles answered. “I’m glad you’re up, though. I think we have enough time to go up and check out that rabbit hutch this morning before breakfast. I want to put those new chicks in there while I make a better coup for them. It’s just too dangerous with them in that big chicken coup with all those month-old chickens. They’re going to get run over. We’ve already lost three. I don’t want to lose anymore.”
John’s dad, Charles, worked as a machine operator at a local factory. He had worked there for about twenty years climbing the ladder all the way up to Senior Foreman. He had earned himself four weeks of vacation and several weeks of sick time. It was a good job and close to the house so if he needed to get home quickly to take care of anything on their farm or at the house, he could. He enjoyed his work but he enjoyed farming more. He owned about 100 acres on the outskirts of town where he grew feed corn and beans. His job at the factory would provide a handsome retirement for his family, more that the farming would. Crop prices hadn’t been too good for the last couple of years due to the fluctuating weather. So, having a stable job helped out with the finances. And since he’d been with the company for so long he had the flexibility of taking off when planting and harvesting season came around.
“Dad, do we have to do it now? I’m really hungry.” John said as he tried to stall his dad.
“Yeah, come on. Breakfast won’t be ready for about thirty minutes. Isn’t that right, ma?”
“Yes, that’s right,” John’s mother agreed. “I’ll call you when it’s ready. Go on and check that thing out so we can move them after breakfast and get a new chicken coup made this afternoon.”
John just stood there. He thought, ‘What am I going to do now? What are Mom and Dad going to say?’
“Come on, boy! Let’s get crackin’!” His dad said as the door slammed behind him.
“You’d better get going, John. You know how your father gets when he wants you to do something. He expects you to be right on his heels.”
John turned and walked out the door. His dad was already half way to the shed. John picked up the pace and caught up with his dad. “Dad, wait. There’s something I have to tell you before you get to the rabbit hutch.”
John’s dad turned around. “What is it, son?”
“Well . . .” John stammered around wondering how he would explain everything to his dad.
“Out with it, boy; we’ve got work to do and not much time to do it!” John’s dad said, showed his impatience.
“I found something a couple of days ago. Well . . . Pete, Billy and I did. It’s like some weird animal. We didn’t know what to do with it, so I brought it home and stuck it in the rabbit hutch.” There, he’d said it. That hadn’t been so bad. Whew! John was glad that was over with. He didn’t like keeping secrets from his parents.....
......His dad turned around and continued on to the hutch shaking his head. As he rounded the corner of the shed and walked over to the hutch, he could see something moving in the back corner. As he crept closer, suddenly the creature turned around and started hopping up and down, excited to see John. When he realized that John was not alone, he stopped and snuck back off to the corner peering out from behind his feathers.
“What in the world? What IS that?” John’s dad said as he tried to peer closer to the creature.
“That’s Rasafrats! Isn’t he cool?”
Charles looked over at John and then at Rasafrats and then back at John again. “What on earth do you plan to do with him,” he said as he raised his eyebrow again.
“Well, Pete, Billy, and I are going back to the mine where we found him to see if we can find his home. I’m sure that’s where he lives. We went back there yesterday and Rasafrats showed us this COOL place in the mine, Dad. You wouldn’t believe it!
“No, I’m sure I wouldn’t.”
John continued. “There was a lake and flowers and sunshine........
......John hung his head. “I know, dad. But we have to try and get him back home, if that IS his home. I’ll be careful, I promise.” John hesitated for a moment. “Are you going to tell mom?”
“We have to, son. But, I’ll hold off telling her until you guys get back this afternoon, okay?”
“Great! Thanks Dad! I’ll be careful, don’t worry.”
“Okay, now we’d better head back to the house. Breakfast is probably ready.”
Just then, John’s mom stuck her head out the back door and yelled, “Breakfast is ready! Come on in and wash up!”
John’s sister, Gretchen, came out of the chicken coup carrying the egg basket. “John, you’re going to have to get the eggs two days in a row since I had to get them this morning.” Then she stuck out her tongue and ran to the house.
“That’s fine, sis. I don’t mind,” John yelled back and then leaned over to his dad, “You don’t suppose she saw the rabbit hutch or Rasafrats, do you? That’s the last thing I need is ‘little miss big-mouth’ nosing around and telling everybody.”
“I don’t think she saw anything. Don’t worry and be nice to your sister. Come on. Let’s get to the house before your mother tans our hides.”
John and his dad picked up the pace and headed inside to wash up for breakfast.