“I’m so glad you could come. I really need the help and it’s been so hard to find.”
His eyes blinked fast and he couldn’t quite meet my eyes. I stared at Clifford and tried to figure out why he was so nervous about meeting me. After all, my coming here had been his idea.
“My car is not too far away. Come.” He took a few steps towards the exit of the train station and for a moment I just stared at his broad back before shrugging my shoulders and following. This wasn’t the welcome I expected. Sure, I came because he said he needed help but after all the chatting and flirting we’d done online over the past few months, I’d expected a hug at the very least.
“Tell me more about these issues you’re dealing with,” I said once we were in the car and Clifford had driven off
He glanced at me before focussing on the road again and for the second time I was convinced I saw a nervous twitch on his face. “I’ve got this huge order, which is fantastic of course, but I’m not equipped to fulfil it and….” The sentence trailed off without reaching a conclusion while a blush crept up his cheeks.
“So what exactly will I be doing? You do remember I’m a city boy, right? I have no experience with farm animals whatsoever. I told you this.”
Clifford nodded as his blush deepened. “I know. It will be fine. I just need a hand herding them in. That’s all. You won’t need to handle them or anything. Once they’re all in the small enclosure I can do the rest. Getting them there is a nightmare though.”
We drove on in silence, while I reflected on life’s surprises. Who would have thought I’d leave the city to go and help out a farmer? Me, who’s always said country life is as close to hell as I could imagine any place being. I smiled as I conceded that logic rarely plays a role when it comes to affairs of the heart. I mean, six months ago I couldn’t have imagined falling hook, line and sinker for a man I’d never met face to face, either. But we’d connected online and hit it off to such an extent I couldn’t bring myself not to offer my assistance when I read his desperate message.
As soon as we pulled up in front of a large farmhouse I wanted to tell him to turn around and drive me back to the station. “Ostriches? Really? I’m sure I mentioned my bird phobia to you.”
Clifford turned to me,his embarrassment betrayed by the nervous twitching of his lips and the discomfort in his eyes. “I thought…hoped it only applied to birds that actually fly.”
“And that’s why you never mentioned what animals you farm?” To my surprise I wasn’t nearly as angry as I would have expected myself to be.
He said nothing but got out of the car instead. I contemplated my options for a moment before opening my door and doing the same. I was there now and might as well see what would happen next.
Four hours later we had all but two of the birds locked away in a small enclosure. The last pair led us on a merry dance though. I’d discovered I don’t like earth bound birds any better than I do the flying variety. Those beaks got too close to my body, and were clearly intent on pecking me to death, given half a chance. I watched as Clifford tried to force one Ostrich in the right direction while the other one closed in on him from behind, stretched his neck and pecked him in the arse. The subsequent events seemed to take place in slow motion. Clifford stumbled, his arms flailing as he unsuccessfully tried to find his balance. I stepped forward and caught him before he hit the ground.
Clifford straightened while I still held on to him and stared into my eyes before bending forward and pressing his lips against mine. I closed my eyes, relishing the contact and thinking that maybe those ostriches weren’t all bad after all. I opened my eyes when Clifford pulled back and glanced over his shoulder.
I’m still convinced that bloody bird was grinning at me.
As always, other stories based on this image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Facebook Group.