This is another exercise from Writers as Readers, written in November 2012.
Danny had been wandering the woods for days. Tired and starving, he had almost given up hope. Then he saw it. A chicken coop. There must be a farmhouse around here somewhere, but Danny couldn’t see it. Surely the farmer wouldn’t begrudge him a few eggs to stave off his hunger. Danny was starving after all. He approached the small rectangular building and reached inside. Just as he was about to check for eggs, he heard a voice off in the distance.
“Hey you, get out of there,” the voice said. Danny jumped around to see a man off in the distance.
“Please Mister, I haven’t eaten in days.”
“I don’t want to hear it,” the man said. “Get out of here now.” That was when Danny noticed the gun. The old farmer had a rifle trained on him. As hungry as Danny was, he wasn’t ready to be shot over a couple of eggs, so he slowly retreated into the woods.
He walked as far away as he could while still being able to see the chicken coop, and watched the old man collect the eggs. He wanted to spend the night there, wait for the chickens to lay more eggs, and collect them before the farmer showed up the next morning. There were two problems with that plan; first, he’d have to sit here for a whole day thinking about eating hard cooked eggs; second, it was obvious the farmer wasn’t willing to give him the eggs, and Danny wasn’t sure he was ready to steal them.
Then, the impossible happened. No sooner than the farmer had walked out of sight, a wolf started to approach the chicken coop. No, Danny thought, not a wolf, it must be a coyote. The coyote crawled into the coop and the chickens started squawking up a storm. He was sure the farmer would be back to shoot the wild dog, but he was nowhere to be seen. A moment later, the coyote darted out of the small structure and started running straight toward Danny.
He froze; he didn’t know what to do. There was a coyote running straight for him with a chicken in his mouth. Coyote, Danny thought, canis latrans, carrying a chicken, gallus domesticus. Why, he wondered, was he thinking in Latin? The whole situation seemed absurd. The coyote approached and Danny let out a yell. The coyote looked up at Danny, dropped the chicken and ran back in the other direction.
Danny looked at the chicken, and pictured it sitting on a spit over a fire. It was probably worse to steal a whole chicken than it would have been to steal a few eggs. But he wasn’t actually stealing from the farmer. The chicken, he thought, most recently belonged to the coyote. Danny picked up the bird by its feet, and then continued his retreat from the lonely chicken coop.