Published in the inaugural issue of Chronicle in March 2017
The barnyard was not safe. People were disappearing, being snatched. Someone had to keep the place under surveillance at night. They would elect a watchman.
At first, it seemed the obvious choice was Mother Goose. She had been around a long time, was familiar with the barnyard, was wise and experienced. And she had always especially loved the children, who were most at risk.
But some thought she had been around too long. Factions sprang up.
“We need someone with a loud voice to sound an alarm,” said her supporters. “Geese are famous for their loud voices.”
“True enough,” said others, “but she’s old. She sleeps a lot. She isn’t as alert as we need.”
There were alternatives.
“I’m so big,” Hog said, “that I can crush any intruder.”
“You’re too fat,” someone said. “They’d run away from you.”
“I’m fast,” said Horse.
“Yes,” said a skeptic, “but you’re too easily crippled.”
“I’m bigger and stronger than Horse,” said Bull.
“Yes, but you doze when you chew your cud. We need someone wide awake at all times.”
“I can do the job,” Ram said. “I’ll make any intruder butt out.”
“Well and good,” said a Mother Goose supporter, “but those horns impair your view. We need someone with good peripheral vision.”
Then Fox volunteered.
“I’m just an observer,” said Owl, who was proud of his reputation for wisdom, “but I think that’s a hoot.”
Others scoffed, too. “You’re not really one of us.” “You’re never around.”
“You don’t see me because I’m nocturnal,” Fox said. “I’m fast, and my teeth are sharp, and I can make the barnyard great again.”
“I’m too sagacious to believe that,” advised Owl. “You need someone experienced, who knows the ins and outs of the barnyard.”
“You’re never here when the Farmer comes to collect his due,” someone said to Fox.
“Exactly. That shows how smart I am.”
“We can’t trust you,” said a Mother Goose fan. “Your very name means sly and cunning.”
“That’s a plus,” said Fox. “It takes one to catch one. I’m the one who can outwit a predator.”
To Owl’s surprise, support for Fox grew.
“We need a fresh face,” said a growing number.
Mother Goose rallied her backers. “Terrible things will happen,” she argued. “He calls every plump hen ‘foxy’. He isn’t a person of good character.”
“Irrelevant,” chorused Fox supporters. “Make the barnyard great again.”
Finally Election Day came. Owl kept a sharp eye on the polling station. Everyone voted. When the ballots were counted, no one was more surprised, but he tried not to show it. “Fox,” Owl reported on the late news, “is your new watchman.”
But he couldn’t refrain from adding: “Woe is the henhouse.”
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