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Home Country

BY SLIM RANDLES

The first thing that tipped us off that there was a problem was when old man Ortega's rooster disappeared. He reported it to the police, too, who thought this neighborhood alarm clock finally met with a dissatisfied customer who was now gleefully making dumplings.

The police said as much to Ortega, and the old man wanted to know what the police were going to do about it. Well, since it had been almost a week since they'd had a complaint come in, the chief sent young Glen around the neighborhood asking chicken questions.

Everyone denied ending ol' Doodle's career ... when they finished laughing ... and a cursory exam of yards and garbage cans failed to turn up brown or red feathers. The preliminary poultry purloining pursuit then ended with a cursory report filed down at the cop shop, with old man Ortega getting a copy of it.

Ortega had his suspicions, of course. There was one neighbor lady who had once complained about the rooster to Ortega, and he had defended to her very face his rooster's right to crow. She then asked if he couldn't get ol' Doodles operated on, like they do to dogs, and get his doodler clipped so he'd be singing blanks, as it were. Ortega hotly replied that anyone who would deliberately maim an American rooster would steal sheep.

Later on, he apologized to her for blowing off steam, told her he really didn't think of her as a sheep thief, and offered to buy her some ear plugs that they sell out at the shooting range. She passed on the ear plug offer, but poured him a cup of coffee and that seemed to be that.

But still, ol' Doodles was gone, and there was no denying that. If he had simply escaped and was still in town, we'd have heard him somewhere, so that was ruled out. We finally put two and two together when another neighbor caught a coyote going over the fence with one of his hens, but we always wondered about that doodler-snipping operation. We'll have to ask Doc about it.

Brought to you by Sun Dog Days, now at bookstores everywhere, or at www.unmpress.com.

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