Fowl Play

We've all heard of hen pecked husbands, but this takes the cake.

Follows "Going with the Living." Fourth installment in the Meanwhile series after "Notice of Intent," "Calling In" and "Worth More than a Thousand Words,"

circa Spring 2009.

*******

Costa Rica, Saturday Afternoon

In the town's lone Internet café, Grissom located Sara firmly ensconced and apparently utterly engrossed. This came as no surprise, as while the camp's sat connection allowed them to send basic emails, any longer, more detailed or multimedia messages were best sent using a landline. He pushed open the door and went to join her. Upon spotting him, Sara's appearance of absorption soon turned to amused sort of relish.

"You're looking awfully smug about something," Grissom observed.

"Just email," she grinned.

"Good news?"

Sara shook her head. "Sending not receiving."

Suddenly sounding a lot more concerned, Grissom asked, "What exactly are you sending?"

"You mean sent?" she questioned as she motioned for him to take a seat beside her. Sara clicked open her sent email folder and hit play on the video file from her latest message.

Grissom's eyes went wide.

"Is that..." he began after a moment.

"Yeah."

"And..."

She nodded eagerly.

In a valiant, but futile, attempt to come off as nonchalant, Grissom said, "I thought you said you weren't going to..."

"I didn't need to write," Sara maintained. "The video is fairly self-explanatory, don't you think?"

He didn't deign to reply to this. Instead, Grissom sighed, "Do I even want to know how you got that?"

"Technology is a wonderful thing, Gil. These days cameras fit in the palm of your hand."

His next sigh was even more pronounced. "The one time you had the presence of mind to take video."

Sara's grin only grew. "Funny how that turned out."

"Yeah, real funny, dear."

"It was you that gave me the idea," she countered. "To send it, I mean."

When Grissom gave her a patently confused look, she added, "Remember what you told Luis about paybacks?" by way of explanation.

"Vaguely."

"Your recall a little clearer about those swimsuit pictures from our honeymoon that..."

"You sent to the lab?" he finished helpfully.

"Inadvertently sent to the lab," Sara clarified. "The ones I asked you to delete and you didn't."

"Yes, those."

"Well, Gilbert, I've always been a firm believer in turnabout is fair play."

"Touché."

*******

Costa Rica, Several Days Previous

The incident in question had begun ordinarily and innocently enough with Grissom having breakfast duty that morning. Of course those days breakfast duty had become slightly more complicated.

A few weeks before, after Ana had spent yet another ten minutes bemoaning in very rapid and rabid Spanish the high rate of breakage in the eggs they brought back from town each Saturday, Stephen suggested they attempt to raise their own laying hens. That way thanks to the natural prolificacy of chickens, camp would have an ample supply of fresh eggs at their disposal.

While Grissom and Sara, both inveterate city dwellers, had shrugged and rather reluctantly agreed to the proposal (although privately labeling the whole affair as Stephen's chicken experiment), the idea wasn't all that far-fetched. Many local families kept their own chickens. Ana, Luis and Bernie had all grown up with them. Besides, history and science placed the origins of the practice of domesticating chicken species in the jungles of Vietnam, so raising chickens in the middle of the rainforest wasn't that out there.

And the arrangement had worked out well. Or at least hadn't proven problematic. Until that morning.

It had seemed a natural enough extension of morning cooking duties to include tending to the chickens and collecting the eggs. Usually it only ever added about ten minutes to the total workload. Fill the feeders. Make sure the waterers had plenty of fresh water. Rake the droppings out to add to the compost heap. Scatter the dry scratch to encourage the hens out of their nesting boxes to make it easier to retrieve the eggs. Simple.

Except Grissom accidentally almost dropped a couple of eggs as he was backing out of the pen and somehow in the short amount of time it took for him to straighten up and actually proceed through the door, one of the hens scurried between his legs, managing to fly the proverbial coop.

Well, flee at least. Even though the leghorns were a bit on the large and heavy side, they could still technically fly, so Ana had had their wings clipped. Unfortunately, that didn't in the least effect their ability to run. Fast.

At least faster than Grissom.

*******

Sara, in the midst of her usual early morning routine of insect specimen cleaning and processing, was photo-documenting a particularly showy example of Undulambia polystichalis when she felt rather than saw something scurry over the top of her feet. She started. Stood.

Hank who had up until that moment been busy with his early morning nap at her side was instantly alert and awake. And curious.

There was the flash of white feathers.

Then Grissom darted past.

Sara goggled after him.

Was that...? she wondered, not sure if she had really seen what she thought she'd seen. But she had.

Yep. Her husband, the illustrious Dr. Gil Grissom, one of the foremost forensic entomologists in North America, was chasing a chicken.

And having never been able to do anything but peer bewilderedly at the hens from the other side of the wire mesh, Hank had apparently decided that his master shouldn't be the only one to have all the fun. He gave a loud, bellowing woof that only served to spook the chicken more before he bolted after them both.

Of course Hank had chosen to leap into the fray at the most inopportune time. Just as Grissom almost had the hen cornered enough to catch her, the boxer bounded up and sent the bird racing off in the opposite direction. Grissom, being the unwitting victim of one of the most basic principles of inertia, stumbled face down into the dirt.

He uttered a very loud and colorful curse as he hurriedly scrambled to his feet and set off again in hot pursuit. Sara hastily stepped aside and plastered herself against the table as Grissom hurtled past, before she followed at a careful, but curious, amused and not so distant distance.

The running, racing, fleeing, shrieking (on the part of the chicken) and barking went on for several more long harried minutes. How the racket hadn't managed to rouse the entire camp, Sara had no idea.

But enough was enough. So she simply stripped off her windbreaker and tossed it over the frantic chicken.

Instantly, it stilled.

Hot, sweaty and still panting, Grissom gaped open mouthed at his wife. When he was finally able to even come close to catching his breath, he gasped, "Why didn't you do that five minutes ago?"

"Because that would have taken all the fun out of it," Sara shrugged. "Besides, I hardly ever get to see you run," she added, bending to effortlessly scoop the now docile hen from the ground.

He glared at her. "So you finally decided to intervene because?"

"The chicken was winning," she offered as she eased the fabric from the chicken's head and began stroking the white plumage along its back.

Gesturing to the way Sara gently, yet firmly cradled the bird close to her own body, Grissom said, "Spend time on a farm that I don't know about?"

She let out a short dismissive snicker. "No. Luis explained what to do if one of them ever got loose."

"And neither of you passed on this potentially helpful information because..."

Sara tried not to laugh, as it appeared that in this case, however uncharacteristic, Grissom's knowledge about domesticated fowl seemed to have proven to be more esoteric than practical.

"We assumed you already knew what to do," she replied. "I mean your grandfather..."

"That was rabbits," Grissom rapidly interjected. "Just rabbits."

"Ah. Well, then for future reference, if one gets out, don't worry if you can't catch her. She'll probably wander back to the coop on her own before sundown."

"Good to know," he said, some of his own usual placidity returning.

Until he noticed that the hen in Sara's arms had closed its eyes and appeared incredulously enough to have fallen fast asleep. At the aghast look on Grissom's face, Sara gave him another shrug as well as a soft smile.

"You tired her out," she said.

"I tired her out?"

Sara however addressed her next comment to the chicken, "Come on Lucy, let's get you back home."

"Lucy?" Grissom echoed.

"Yeah, that's her name. Lucy."

"That figures," he intoned a little grumpily.

It was Sara's turn to look bewildered.

"Lucy - short for Lucifer," he explained.

With a dismissive shake of the head she replied, "You're just prejudiced. She's really sweet. And my favorite."

"You have a favorite chicken?"

"I do now."

*******

Towards the end of dinner that night while everyone was still gathered around the table, Luis rose and said in his not quite perfect English, "Dr. G., we hear about you and the chicken this morning."

Grissom shot Sara a dirty look. She gave him a guileless sort of grin.

But Luis was still speaking. "And we find a chicken you have no problem to catch. So you can have practice."

As Grissom was ever an advocate for the repeated practicing of anything one had difficulties with, he couldn't quite dispute the wisdom of this. So he merely waited for Luis to continue.

The young man said nothing more, he only propped an egg in the center of the table. On it was the crudely drawn figure of a chicken.

Suddenly, everyone was having a difficult time trying hard not to laugh.

Grissom, not utterly immune to the apparent humor in the situation himself, said, shaking his head ruefully as he did so, "Go ahead, you might as well get it all out and over with."

And they did. The table erupted into laughter and before long, they were all chuckling so hard that a few of them had tears of amusement streaming down their faces and none of them could breathe.

Once the hysterics had passed, Grissom gave the table a knowing sort of look as he said, "You know, Luis, there is this saying in English. Payback is..."

"Gil!" Sara interjected both amused and aghast at the same time.

Ana chuckled. "I believe the rest of that translates as una perra," she offered obligingly.

Luis was suddenly looking a whole lot less cocky.

*******

Las Vegas, Sunday Morning

All of the added duties as undersheriff usually kept Conrad Ecklie busy enough during the daytime and the week that unless there was a case or concern that needed his direct and immediate attention he usually left the Sunday morning grave yard shift to their own devices.

It wasn't like there was usually much free time for them to get into any mischief anyway. The previous Saturday night usually brought with it more than its fair share of crime and chaos to be sorted through so that the shift didn't tend to be particularly light or fun.

For his part Ecklie would rather have spent that morning out on the links, but the sheriff had asked him to stop by and check up on a rather high profile case in person.

Which was why he could be found prowling the halls at eight a.m. on his way towards the garage where Catherine was said to be working.

Except that morning, the lab seemed to be in a flutter about something.

An unusual sort of cheerfulness, a general air of amusement seemed to pervade the place There was an alarming large amount of stifled tittering going on, as well as more than a few barely concealed smirks.

Ecklie considered asking what was so funny, but then decided there were just some things he really didn't want to know.