Length: 37,000 words
Publisher: MLR Press
Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what heís doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Samís pristine yard.
Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, itís been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current jobórunning his sisterís animal rehab center while sheís away on a four-month leaveóis temporary. And he does know what heís doing, thank you very much. Sure, things donít always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.
One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isnít really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.
Argh! Bo kicked his closed front door. That...that man. Every five frickiní minutes he was up in Boís face about something.
Iím trying to work, Bo. Can you get the dogs to stop barking? Why is the goat making weird noises?
How did your chicken get into my yard?
Whatís that smell?
Fix your side of the fence.
Bo had fixed his side of the fence, damn it, so it wasnít his fault the chicken was still getting into Samís yard. If anything, it was Samís side that needed to be fixed. But did Sam give him a chance to say his piece? Nooooo. Mr. Iím So Cool With My Muscles And Tallness And Swanky Haircut wouldnít get off his pedestal long enough for Bo to defend himself.
Not that Bo was envious of those muscles or that tallness or that swanky haircut that was on the redder side of strawberry blond. He was perfectly fine with his own five foot seven height and his messy ëdo. Tallness was overrated anyway. And he had his own muscles. Arm muscles, anyway. The little pudge on his belly left a lot to be desired.
But whatever. Arm muscles were all he needed to catch a guyís attention at the clubs and bars. By the time the guy realized Bo wasnít so muscly all over, they were already in each otherís pants and that little detail no longer mattered.
Bring on the cookies.
Shaking his head at himself, he headed out back to the shed and grabbed a thicker pair of gloves and some chicken feed. He inspected his side of the fenceójust in case he was mistaken. Which he wasnít, thank you very much. Grunting in satisfaction, he left his backyard via the gate and cut through the path in the hedges between his and Samís front yards. After unlatching the gate to Samís backyard, he followed the sounds of clucking chicken to a wildflower garden along the back fence. Along with some kind of leafy tree and a couple of shrubs, there were bursts of yellow, purple, and pink flowers in the garden that Bo couldnít name to save his life.
Of course it was that chicken. The brown one with the lone white feather along its back. The instigator of the group. The one that riled up the other chickens and always seemed to find a way out of the chicken coop. The one whoíd pecked Boís hands raw the first time Bo tried to pick him up. Thatís where his new extra-thick gloves came in.
He slipped them on then scattered some chicken feed. Bait the chicken and then grab it from behind, the YouTube tutorial heíd watched a couple weeks ago had said. Bo had become somewhat of a chicken corralling expert in the past couple of weeks. A skill he never thought heíd need and didnít know how to add to his resume without sounding like a smart-ass.
The chicken went after the food just like always. Bo gave it a minute to eat most of it, then quietly snuck up behind it, cupped his hands around its sides, and lifted.
The angry squawk the chicken let out pierced Boís eardrums and its legs worked as if trying to walk on air. Bo held on tighter as the bird struggled in his grip. He made tracks for the gate, where Sam was oh-so-helpfully holding it open. The sight of him standing there all tall and perfect jolted Bo and had him fumbling the chicken. A wing got loose and flapped in Boís face.
Bo thought he heard a chuckle, but when he looked at Sam around the feathers in his face, the man was as stony as ever. Was that a hint of laughter in Samís eyes? No. The man didnít know how to laugh. Drawing his shoulders back, head high, Bo stalked past him andó
ìDonít forget to fix your fence,î Sam said.
Before Bo even had a chance to reply, the gate slammed at his back.
Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, Amy's interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking.
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