Saturday, November 19, 2016
Counting Your Chickens
Counting Your Chickens
By Prairie Girl
Caiden Ames sat back in the passenger seat of the car with a pleased grin on his face. He looked down at the two small cardboard boxes that he held cradled on his lap. Inside tiny peeps could be heard.
“Caiden, do really think that you should’ve bought more chicks?” asked his best friend, Oliver Mills.
“Why not? They weren’t *that* expensive and we could always use more chickens on the farm,” Caiden replied.
“But didn’t Daniel tell you that the last time better be the last time?”
Caiden scowled Oliver, “Yes, but that was only because I bought sixteen of the same kind. These are different. Didn’t you see them? They’ll look cool when they get big.”
“Um…I really don’t think that’s what Daniel meant. He had his ‘resolve face’ on, Cai. That usually means he’s serious.”
“What’re you worried about? He’s not *your* partner?”
Oliver glanced over at him, “True. But he’s not going to be very happy with you. Do you really *want* to get into trouble?”
“Cai, I don’t know why you let yourself get into these messes. And I sure don’t know why I keep letting you get *me* into them with you.”
Caiden patted Oliver’s shoulder and said, “”Because you’re my best friend, Ol, my buddy, my amigo, my partner in crime.”
Oliver snorted, “Yeah, right. And when Daniel’s through with us, maybe they can bury what’s left side-by-side, eh?”
“Oh ye of little faith,” chided Caiden. “Daniel will understand. You’ll see. He’s a very understanding guy.”
“Sure. A very understanding guy who just happens to have a very hard hand. But it’s your backside, not mine.”
“Might be someday, you know,” reminded Caiden. “You and me, we’re two of a kind, Daniel always says so. Your time will come. Your Top will find you sooner or later. And then we can be in trouble together.”
“Because that’s the main goal in my life,” snickered Oliver, “to be in trouble with you.”
“Exactly,” smirked Caiden, “that’s how you can tell a true friend. A regular friend will help you move furniture. A true friend will help you move a body.”
“Now there’s a comforting thought,” Oliver said sarcastically.
Daniel Hurst was sitting at his desk in the study looking over some of his upcoming cases. He sighed to himself, wondering for the millionth time just *why* he’d wanted to become a civil litigation attorney. Some of his clients were really starting to make him question his belief that humans actually were the dominant intelligent species on the planet.
He was glad that he and Caiden had finally found a small farm to purchase. Granted, he didn’t see himself settling down to farm exclusively, but it was nice to have animals and a decent garden. Not to mention that it made Caiden so happy and Daniel loved the way that Caiden would bounce out of bed in the morning, excited to begin another day on their little farm. It wasn’t long after meeting Caiden that he knew the young man had a dream of having a farm. He was even majoring in agricultural studies in an online course.
Daniel remembered walking into the coffee shop and seeing the then twenty-two year old Caiden for the first time. His thick, dark hair was constantly falling into his chocolate brown eyes as he fiddled with the espresso machine. One of his coworkers said something to him and he turned and flashed them such a brilliant smile that it made Daniel’s heart skip a beat. By the time that Daniel was at the counter, he knew that he was going to have feel this young man out and see if he was interested in a date. And as it turned out, Caiden was more than agreeable.
After dating for six months, Daniel knew that he’d found the man for him. Caiden was just the right fit for him. Daniel asked him to move in with him and Caiden leaped at the opportunity.
After Caiden moved in, Daniel began to notice more and more that Caiden seemed to have a need to have someone look after him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t capable, but he was impulsive. He tended to act before he thought and think with his heart more than his head. And while that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it often led Caiden into trouble and brought out all of Daniel’s Top instincts. So Daniel sat him down one evening and discussed the possibility of a discipline relationship. After much discussion and negotiation of rules and consequences, they both agreed that this was a good idea for both of them. The rules and restrictions made Caiden feel secure and loved, even if he did fuss and complain on occasion.
Although he was still young at thirty-one, Daniel had proved himself to be a strong and competent attorney and had started a practice with his best friend from law school, Quinn Thacker. Their practice was successful enough that Daniel was able to afford the small farm about an hour out of town where he worked and Caiden was blissfully happy.
He was pulled from his musing when he heard the car pull up and leaned back in his chair, stretching with a sigh. He grinned as he heard Caiden’s excited chatter.
The back door opened with a bang announcing Caiden’s arrival. “Daniel? Daniel, where are you?”
“I’m in the study, Cai.”
Caiden came bouncing in carrying a couple small cardboard boxes, his face alight with pleasure. Daniel frowned slightly when he heard the telltale peeping coming from the box.
“Caiden, please tell me that you didn’t buy anymore baby chicks.”
Caiden’s cheeks flushed a bit, his smile faltering, “It’s only twelve of them, Daniel. And they aren’t like the others. They won’t be plain brown or white. You should see them! They look really cool! Look!”
Caiden set the boxes on the desk in front of Daniel and opened them. Inside each box were six peeping baby chicks.
“Just look at them! See? Some have stripes, some have spots like leopards, some have fuzzy feathers, some look like baby penguins, and this one,” he said, picking out a small chick, “has a little chicken afro! And look at these two! Have you ever seen little chicks with curly wings before? Just imagine how great our chicken yard is going to look!”
Daniel heaved another sigh. Caiden’s eyes were mixed as he looked at them. They were filled with a joyful light and yet muted with uncertainty. Daniel shook his head lightly. “Caiden, we’ve already discussed this. I told you that we didn’t need any more chicks, didn’t I?”
Caiden looked at Daniel’s stern expression, “Well…yes…but I…”
Daniel cut him off before he could get started on his ‘why I’m right even if I’m wrong’ speech, “Caiden Isaiah, did I or did I not tell you that we didn’t need any more chicks and that you were not to buy any more?”
Caiden’s eyes dropped to his feet and he scuffed the toe of his sneaker into the braided rug, “Yes, sir.”
“Where my instructions unclear in any way?”
Caiden’s shoulders drooped even more, “No, sir.”
Daniel reached over and cradled Caiden’s chin in his hand, “Caiden, I know how much this farm means to you. I know how much you want it to flourish and succeed. I want that too. You know I do. But we have to be careful with our spending. All of these cute little chicks that you’re buying are eventually going to grow up and need more feed and whatnot.”
Caiden opened his mouth to speak, but Daniel cut him off again, “Let me finish, please. I know that they’ll eventually provide eggs, but you have to factor in the housing of these chicks as well. We only have a limited amount of coop space right now. Do you really want to see your hens fighting and killing each other for roosting space, because you know that’s a definite possibility?”
Caiden’s eyes filled with remorse, “I didn’t think about that. Honest, Daniel, I don’t want to see them fighting and suffering.”
Daniel put his arms around Caiden and pulled him close. “I know you don’t. You have too big of a heart for that,” he said. Then he pushed Caiden back and looked him in the eye. “Now listen to me, Caiden. This is the last time. I don’t want you buying any more chicks, none, at all. Do you understand?”
Caiden looked back at him sadly, “Yes, Daniel.”
Daniel sighed, “You do know that you disobeyed me, don’t you?”
Caiden nodded his head sadly.
“But,” Daniel said, “I’m not going to spank you this time.” Caiden looked at him hopefully. “However, you are going to be punished. You are going to write ‘I will not disobey and buy any more chicks’ ten times per each chick that you bought today. *And* you’re grounded from going into the farm and ranch supply until further notice.”
“But Daniel, what if need something,” Caiden whined.
“If you need something, you tell me and I’ll pick it up for you. Under *no* circumstance are you to go into that store unless you have my *express* permission. Is that clear, young man?” Daniel had his no nonsense look on his face.
“Yes, sir,” Caiden reluctantly agreed.
“Thank you, Scamp,” Daniel said with a smile, kissing the end of Caiden’s nose. Then he looked toward the door and said a bit more loudly, “Oliver, come on in here. I know you’re there.”
Oliver poked his head around the doorway and looked at Daniel nervously, “H…hi, Daniel. Cute chicks, huh?”
Daniel chuckled lightly and held out a hand to Oliver, “Come here, you.”
Oliver walked over to Daniel and was pulled into the embrace along with Caiden.
“You two are a handful, you know that?” Daniel said fondly.
“Yeah, but that’s why you love us,” smiled Caiden.
“Yes, I most certainly do. Especially you, Scamp. Now I need to get back to my cases. Caiden, you and Oliver can take your newest acquisitions out to the coop. And then you can get started on supper. But don’t forget your lines. I want those finished before we head to bed,” Daniel said, sitting back down at his desk.
“Yes, sir,” Caiden said with a grimace. He hated lines. Very little was as completely boring and sitting still repeating line after line after line…except maybe staring at a blank corner, that’s never of the good.
“Oliver, are you staying for supper?” Daniel asked.
“Um, yeah, sure, I guess so,” responded Oliver.
“Fine. Oh, and Oliver? You did hear me tell Caiden no more chicks, didn’t you?” Oliver nodded. “Good. I don’t want you to let him talk you into taking him to the farm and ranch supply.”
“Yes, sir,” Oliver said with a little smile.
Caiden picked up his two cardboard boxes and headed toward the back door. “But you do have to admit that the chicks are cute, though, don’t you, Daniel?”
Daniel rolled his eyes, “Yes, Cai, they’re very cute. Now get going.”
Two weeks had passed since Caiden’s grounding from the farm and ranch supply. He stood watching the chicks as they wandered about the coop. He was enjoying watching his chicks grow. He could see just how pretty that they were going to be. He could just sit and watch them for ages. It was like his own personal ‘chicken TV.’ It was nice seeing them wandering about the coop, scratching and peeping.
Caiden walked back into the house and sat at the kitchen table with his plans for the spring garden and compost pile that he was planning to start. He was pleased to see that his planning was starting to take shape. He had plans for harvesting and storing enough food to last them all of next winter. He congratulated himself on his money saving plans.
He heard Oliver drive up. Oliver had promised to take him into town to do some grocery shopping. Caiden would’ve preferred to have his own car. But he was willing to be patient. After all, it had been a choice between getting a car and buying the farm, and he’d much rather had the farm. Besides, Oliver was always willing to give him a ride.
“Hey, Cai, ready to go?” Oliver greeted him with a smile.
“Just give me a minute to gather this stuff up. I don’t want anything blowing away or anything. I think I’ve got it all planned out perfectly.”
“If you say so, buddy,” Oliver said.
Caiden finished putting his plans away and grabbed his shopping list. “Okay. I’m ready. Let’s go.”
They drove into the little town about twenty minutes from the ranch. It was a nice little town, even if it didn’t have much more than a bank, a post office, a small grocery, laundry mat, gas station, diner, and the currently forbidden farm and ranch supply.
They took care of the shopping and were about to head back to the farm when Caiden suddenly said, “Ol, stop!”
Oliver pulled over and looked at his friend, “What’s wrong? Are you sick or something?”
“No. I just remembered that I need some more chick starter. I’m out.”
Oliver gaped at Caiden, “Tell me you’re joking! Tell me you aren’t really thinking about going into the farm and ranch supply!”
“What?” Caiden said with mock innocence. “I just need to get a bag of starter.”
“Are you kidding me? I distinctly remember Daniel telling you that if you needed anything from there that you were supposed to tell him and he’d pick it up.”
“Yeah, but the chicks are completely out of food, and they can really eat a lot, and Daniel said that he’d most likely be in court all day today. I can’t let them starve just because Daniel has to be in court, now can I?”
Oliver sighed. “Cai, this is going to backfire on you. You know that, don’t you?”
“Oh please! It’s so not going to. I happen to be very sneaky, thank you! It’s not a coincidence that my initials are C.I.A. Trust me. What could possibly go wrong?”
“You aren’t seriously asking that question, are you?” Oliver snorted.
“Because every time you ask that, *everything* goes wrong!”
“Oh, it does not!” denied Caiden.
“You just wait, you’ll see,” predicted Oliver.
Caiden just waved his hand dismissively, got out of the car, and headed into the store.
Oliver sighed, “This is so going to end badly. I just *know* it!” But he followed his friend inside anyway.
Oliver found his friend in the back by the piles of feed. Caiden was just putting a large bag of feed into his cart. “It’s about time. I was beginning to think you’d gotten lost,” he said.
“Nope, I was just waiting,” Oliver told him.
“Waiting for what?”
“The floor to fall out from under us.”
“You really are a pessimist, you know that,” Caiden informed him.
“No I’m not. I just know you. You’re one of the most unfortunately circumstanced people I know. Face it, buddy, if something can go wrong in any of your plans, it will. It’s just the way it is; it’s nature…at least for you.”
“I’m just getting some feed and leaving, that’s all. I’m not doing anything wrong…not really,” Caiden said, although he was sounding less and less sure of himself.
“Right,” snorted Oliver, “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.”
Caiden just turned and started pushing his cart down the aisle, determined to ignore Oliver’s dire predictions.
As he was wandering towards the front, he heard the tempting peeping of chicks. He turned and saw that the six metal bins that had been holding the chicks had been whittled down to just three. ‘I’ll just take a quick peek,’ he thought to himself. ‘There’s nothing wrong with a quick peek. It’s not like I’m planning to buy any. I just want to look.’
He turned and casually made his way to the bins, as if they weren’t his true destination. Oliver rolled his eyes and followed, knowing his friend well enough to not be fooled in the slightest by his innocent act.
Once they reached the bins, Caiden leaned over and peered into the nearest one. “Wow! Would you just look at that!” he exclaimed. “Have you ever seen anything like that? Are they sick or something? Or maybe beaten up by other chickens.”
Oliver looked down into the bins. Sure enough, a number of the little chicks had absolutely *no* feathers on their necks.
“Kind of look like tiny little ostriches, don’t they?” said Caiden thoughtfully.
“They’re called naked necks,” said a voice behind them.
Both young men turned to see a store worker behind them.
“Naked necks?” inquired Caiden.
“Yes. They’re called that because their breed never grows any feathers on their necks. They’re unique that way,” the worker informed them. “Are you interested in purchasing some?”
“Well…” hedged Caiden.
“No!” Oliver interrupted quickly, “He’s not! Not at all! Are you, Cai?”
“I don’t know,” Caiden said slowly, looking down at the chicks. He actually was most definitely interested. He didn’t have *any* naked neck chicks. They would be a fascinating addition to his coop.
“Caiden, I really think that you should give this some serious thought,” Oliver advised him. “You might be able to get away with buying chicken food and not getting caught, but Daniel is *so* not going to miss little ostriches running around the coop. Besides which, they’re smaller than the ones you have now.”
“Tell you what,” the worker said, “I’ve got some feed sacks that I need to unload in the back. You think about it and let me know, okay?” At Caiden’s nod, the worker headed off to the back of the store.
“Caiden, seriously, don’t do it. It’s a monumentally *bad* idea!” Oliver begged.
Caiden reached down into one of the bins and picked up one of the chicks. “You know what my grandpa used to say?” he asked Oliver. “Grandpa used to say, ‘I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.’ As I see it, I can maybe get a chick or two, add them to the coop, and hope Daniel doesn’t notice. But if he does, I’ll just ask for forgiveness, just like Grandpa said.”
Oliver shook his head, “Cai, this is exactly why your mom called your grandpa a bad influence. Remember what she used to say about him? ‘Your grandfather just proves that you’re never too old to learn something stupid.’”
“Pfft. It’ll be fine,” Caiden said. “Nothing to worry about. What Daniel doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
“No…but you may not be so lucky,” came a stern and familiar voice from behind them.
Caiden jumped, turned, and quickly put his hands (and the incriminating chick) behind him. “Hi, Daniel,” he said nervously. “What’re you doing here? I thought you had court all day.”
Daniel eyed Caiden firmly, “The judge had a family emergency and adjourned court for a few days. I was just on my way home to surprise you when what should I see, but Oliver’s car in front of the very store that you’ve been grounded from. Care to explain?”
“Well…um…you see…it’s all very simple really…” Caiden stammered.
“If it’s so simple, then, please, share,” prompted Daniel.
“Would you believe that we got lost and just…ended up here?” tried Caiden.
“And that would be because a town of 321 people is just such a thriving metropolis, yes?” said Daniel sardonically. “Try again. But remember, each lie just digs the hole that much deeper.”
“We were just grocery shopping, just like I said we were going to,” explained Caiden, babbling. “But then I remembered that I ran out of chick starter this morning. You know that the chicks have to eat. I mean, we eat three times a day, don’t we? And I knew that you were going to be in court all day. And I couldn’t let them starve while waiting for you, could I? That wouldn’t be very responsible, or very nice. I was just going to pop in and pop out. That’s all. Honest!”
Daniel pinched the top of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Caiden, did it occur to you to maybe feed them some stale bread until I got home? Or perhaps just let Oliver run in for you?”
“Um…no?” Caiden said, blushing.
“What’s in your hand, Caiden?” Daniel asked him.
“My hand?” Caiden pretended not to understand.
“Show me your hand, please.”
Caiden pulled his left hand out from behind his back, cradling the chick in his right.
“Both hands,” directed Daniel.
“Why do you want to see my hands so badly? They look the same as they did this morning,” Caiden tried to stall.
“I hear peeping, Cai. Show me your hands. Now.”
“Of course you hear peeping,” Caiden told him, “We’re standing in front of the chick bins. That’s why you hear peeping. Right, Ol?”
Oliver looked at Caiden and raised his hands in a surrendering gesture. “No way, buddy. I’m staying out of this.”
“Traitor,” Caiden grumbled under his breath.
“Hands, Caiden Isaiah. Right now,” ordered his increasingly irritated Top.
Slowly Caiden pulled out his right hand. Sitting there peeping indignantly was the little naked neck chick.
“Put the chick back, Caiden,” instructed Daniel.
Caiden replaced the chick in the bin and turned to face his disappointed partner.
“Bring the feed to the front. We’ll pay for it and get the groceries out of Oliver’s car and get them home. Oliver,” Daniel said, turning to other young man, “thank you for helping Caiden out with the groceries. I am, however, disappointed that you allowed him to talk you into coming here with him.”
Oliver looked down, ashamed, “Sorry, Daniel.”
Daniel patted Oliver on the shoulder. “It’s okay. But I’m afraid you’ll be without your criminal mastermind for a week.”
“Daniel,” Caiden whined.
“Enough, Caiden, you knew the rules before you even left the house. You both did,” Daniel told him.
“It’s okay, Cai,” Oliver said. “Daniel’s right. I really am sorry, Daniel. I don’t know why I let him talk me into these things.”
Daniel smiled tenderly at Caiden, “He could sweet talk the birds out of the trees and the deer out of the bushes.”
Caiden blushed furiously.
“Come on, boys. Let’s get this show on the road,” Daniel said, putting an arm on a shoulder of each young man, herding them to the front of the store.
The drive home was tense and quiet. Caiden knew he was in trouble and didn’t really want to compound it by somehow putting his foot in his mouth as he was wont to do.
When they got home, they carried the groceries in and put them up. Then Daniel turned to Caiden and said, “Go to the study and get in your corner, please.”
Caiden looked pleadingly at Daniel, but seeing no chance of reprieve in his eyes, he shuffled off to the study, his shoulders slumped dejectedly.
He entered the study and went to the corner that he and Daniel had cleared specifically for this purpose when they’d first agreed to have a discipline relationship. He put his nose in the corner and sighed, wondering just how long he’d have to stand here.
After what seemed like endless hours, which was in fact only fifteen minutes, Daniel came into the study and moved the straight backed chair from the wall into the center of the room. He sat down and called Caiden to him.
Caiden turned slowly and walked to Daniel, looking for all the world like a man walking to his doom. (Which, if you were to ask Caiden, he most certainly was.)
“Drop your jeans, please, Caiden,” Daniel said.
Caiden fumbled with his button and fly. He hated having to do this, but he understood why. It showed his willingness to turn control over to Daniel, to allow Daniel to correct him when he needed it. He hated it, but at the same time it made him feel calmer, more grounded in his feelings.
When he had his jeans down to his knees, Daniel guided him over his lap. “Why are we here, Caiden?” Daniel asked him once he was settled. Daniel always insisted on asking this because he wanted to make sure that Caiden knew exactly why he was being punished.
“You told me not to go into the farm and ranch supply and I did,” Caiden said, looking at the multicolored braided carpet under his nose.
“I know how much you enjoy your chicks, Caiden. But you know that it just isn’t practical to get more, nor is it fair to the chicks as they grow. You could’ve waited for me to get home, but you made the decision to break your grounding. I’m very disappointed in you.”
“I’m sorry, Daniel. I didn’t think you’d notice. I thought I could go in, get the feed and get out without you ever knowing.”
“Do you think that makes it better?” Daniel asked incredulously. “Caiden, that makes it worse! You thought that you could not only break your grounding, but that you could lie to me about it, too. That hurts me.”
Caiden felt tears prickling behind his eyes. “I’m sorry, Daniel, really! I didn’t think about it that way! I’m sorry.”
“And you’re about to be sorrier, young man.” With that said, Daniel hooked his fingers in the waistband of Caiden’s boxer briefs and pulled them down to mid thigh. He raised his hand and brought it down sharply on Caiden’s right cheek.
Caiden’s body jerked with the first spank. Daniel spanked methodically, covering every inch of Caiden’s backside with searing smacks. He could feel Caiden stiffen up and try to keep his tears inside. Eventually Caiden started to yelp, then cry, begging Daniel to stop, promising everything he could think of just to end the spanking. Finally he just fell limply over Daniel’s knees, sobbing brokenheartedly. Daniel knew that it was time to end the spanking. After a few well placed spanks on the top of Caiden’s thighs, he rested his right hand on the burning skin and rubbed Caiden’s back with his left.
After a few minutes, he helped Caiden up, eased his boxers up over the abused skin, earning a hiss of pain in the process, and helped him out of his sneakers and jeans. Then he guided him gently over to the loveseat against the wall and settled them together, with Caiden cuddled on his lap.
“Are you alright, Scamp?” he asked quietly.
Caiden sniffled and nodded, his head tucked snuggly under Daniel’s chin. “I’m sorry that I broke my grounding, Daniel.”
“I know you are, little one.”
“Am I still grounded from seeing Oliver for a week?” Caiden asked, hopeful that Daniel might decide that he’d been punished enough.
“Sorry, Scamp. The grounding stays. And you’re still grounded from going to the farm and ranch supply until further notice, as well,” Daniel told him, smiling affectionately at Caiden’s attempt to escape grounding.
“Oh. Okay. I guess that’s fair,” Caiden replied sleepily.
“Come on, Cai. Let’s get you up to bed. I think you could use a nap before supper,” Daniel told him, carefully getting him up and leading him to the door.
“Know what, Daniel?” Caiden said as he cuddled closer to Daniel.
“The next time I try to hatch a plan, I’ll remember who rules the roost.”