A quick Google search revealed that I was headed to decent house in a nice ‘hood.
Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an in-ground swimming pool.
I breathed a sigh of relief and assumed that bedbugs, wild dogs, armed men and drunken neighbors would not present as issues.
A woman met me at the door and a gust of cold air slipped past her slender figure.
Wispy strands of gray hair escaped from her long pony tail.
She pushed a strand back from her face with a weathered hand. Her nails were short and black with dirt, meant for function not fashion.
Not a woman of many words, I thought, and followed her inside.
She ushered me through a dark, cluttered living room. She led me to a mostly cleared off table with a few letters and papers.
As I sat, I took a quick glance around the house.
Green, winding plants were crowded on stands in front of the living room window.
A large bag of chicken feed leaned against a recliner. The seat of the chair was filled with boxes, hangers, a lamp and shoes. Books, binders and craft supplies were stacked on the kitchen counter. An empty bucket and rope, gloves and three boxes of plastic wrap were piled by the sliding glass door.
“I am sorry for mess,” she spoke with a heavy accent.
“My kids move out and leave me with all this. I have no chair to sit in. What I do with all this?” she asked in exasperation and threw her hands up.
“I will get paperwork,” the woman said. She walked to a filing cabinet and started rifling through the contents. I took the opportunity to look for the swimming pool.
Stacks of wood and an old grill were haphazardly placed in the backyard, where the grass was even higher than in the front yard. A little beyond that was the pool, as promised by Google, filled with a black sludgy water. I later learned it was reserved for the ducks, not swimming. Silly me.
Suddenly, a reddish brown creature charged towards the sliding glass door in an exaggerated waddle.
I shrieked, forgetting the glass door between us.
The woman stopped looking through her files and giggled like a little girl.
“My chickens have to say hi.”
She laughed in delight at my shock.
“Very curious girls,” she said and craned her neck around the corner.
More chickens gathered outside of the sliding glass door, fussing and discussing the stranger.
“That reminds me, I have something for you.”
She made her way back towards the kitchen and came back with a half a dozen eggs.
That night, it was announced on the news that there was a possible outbreak of avian flu in urban backyard chickens.
“Wake up you idiots! Whatever made you think that money was so valuable?”