I’m so close to coming now.

Everything tightens.

My grip gets harder.

My stance firmer.

My pants slip down to my ankles.

I…

Have the strangest feeling I’m being watched.

Just before I’m about to blow my load, I glance up to my left.

And meet a pair of round yellow eyes.

It’s a motherfucking chicken.

I open my mouth to scream when the rooster leaps off the top of the stall and flies at me, wings flapping, beak open, letting loose a battle cry which was what I’d probably heard earlier, only ten-fold as it’s coming to peck my eyes out.

I lift up my arms in defense, the chicken’s claws going into my shirt, and now I’m shrieking, screaming, yelping, flailing back and forth in the bathroom stall while the bird beast starts climbing up into my hair, squawking hellishly.

Somehow I manage to spin out of the stall, the door flying open until I’m slammed up against the wall and the chicken loses it’s grip enough for me to open the washroom door and take off screeching down the hallway, trying not to fall down as I run while struggling to pull up my pants.

Just then Nova steps out of her office.

Sees me with my disheveled hair and my hands clutching my waistband, my cock hanging out.

I can’t imagine the expression on my face but it makes her stop dead in her tracks, ripping off her wireless headphones.

“Kessler, what the fuck?” she cries out, her eyes darting between my face and my dick. “Are you…okay?” Before I can even try to form words she frowns at my dick again. “Why do you have a hard-on?”

“This isn’t the cock we have to worry about,” I yell, yanking the rest of my pants up before pointing frantically down the hall. “It’s the cock in the washroom.”

Her forehead creases. “A cock…in the washroom. Is it…Teef’s?” I can see she’s getting all sorts of bizzare ideas in her head.

“Teef isn’t even here!” I yell at her. “It’s that motherfucking chicken.”

Her mouth opens, trying to find words, just as the aforementioned cock lets out another warrior battle cry that rings through the office.

“What the hell was that?” she cries out.

“That’s the motherfucking chicken!” I zip up my fly and do up my belt, beckoning for her to follow me. “Don’t believe me, I’ll show you.”

She doesn’t move. “I’ve already seen one cock today, I don’t need to see another.”

She’s disarmingly blasé, although I can see she’s starting to bite back a smile.

“This isn’t funny,” I tell her. “That thing is dangerous. It wanted to peck my eyes out.”

“Really caught you with your pants down, huh.”

“Well what the hell is a chicken doing in the washroom? Doesn’t that surprise you?”

She shrugs. “It happens.”

“It happens?” I repeat. “Since when? I know Oahu has a feral chicken problem but we’re on the tenth floor.”

“Chickens can fly, people leave windows open. Maybe they’re using the service elevator.”

“You do think this is funny.”

Finally she cracks a grin and shrugs one shoulder. “It’s at least a little bit funny. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”

It’s only then after all the commotion that I realize she’s got her purse on her arm and her car keys in her hand. “Well what am I supposed to do about it? I can’t leave it here until tomorrow.”

“The cleaners will take care of it later. Or you can call up Bradah Ed from security, but I do recall him telling me he has a phobia of birds, so I’m not sure how much help he’ll be.”

“Well I can’t work here knowing he’s in there.”

“Kess,” she says, and for a moment I bask in the way she’s said my name, like we’re old friends, “it’s just a chicken. Deal with it. Go grab a hockey stick if you have to and have some target practice. I really have to go.” She moves past me.

Against my better judgement I reach out and grab her arm, holding her in place. “Where are you going?”

She eyes my grip on her bicep. “Why?”

“I’m just curious,” I tell her. “Are you afraid I’m going to follow you?”

She holds my stare for a moment and I wish I could read the myriad of thoughts that are running behind her eyes.

Just give me an inch, I plead.

“I’m doing volunteer work,” she says with a sigh, relaxing into my grip slightly. I’d forgotten how good it felt to hold her, even just like this, my fingertips on the warmth of her skin.

“Where?”

She rubs her lips together for a moment, thinking. “It’s for Honolulu Mental Health Services. Sometimes I work the call center, sometimes the front desk.”

“That’s what you do on Friday nights?”

“That’s the busiest night. Drugs, alcohol, payday for some. Least I can do is put in a couple of hours.”

“What made you want to volunteer there?” It’s not that Nova is heartless. Even though she never quite opened up to me outside the bedroom, I knew she cared a great deal about many things in her life. Her parents, her sister, rescue animals, pollution.

But as I thought, she doesn’t let me in.

“Just want to make a difference,” she says, shrugging out of my hold. “I’ll see you on Monday.”

And just like that, she leaves, not giving a second glance back to me or the chicken squawking in the washroom.

It’s dark when I pull into Mike’s driveway.

Funny, I should start calling it home already. Even when I’m in a hotel room for long enough, I start calling it home. But even though Mike is running on the beaches of Southeast Asia with a porn star, this is still Mike’s house.

You can feel him in every inch of the walls, because he’s covered every inch of the walls with hockey paraphernalia, from framed photos of him posing along various hockey stars like Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo, and even Wayne Gretzky, to a clashing mix of signed jerseys and replica Stanley Cups. As an ex-NHL player, I find it a little creepy and I have every reason to suspect that Mike never brought the porn star back here, unless she happened to have a hockey fetish. Which, you never know. There are many uses for hockey sticks.

It’s a dark and damp place, too. It’s way up in the hills behind the city and even though it’s surrounded by other suburban houses, there’s this general feeling of uneasiness, like there are things in the house that don’t want us there. I’m guessing the fungal spores in mold.

I try to ignore it though and get out of the car, getting inside just as the skies open up with a deluge of spontaneous rain.

“You’re home,” Hunter says, appearing at the end of the hall by the kitchen. I can hear Loan doing the dishes.

“I am,” I tell him, taking out the pineapple stress-ball from my pocket. “And I brought you a present.”

He gingerly takes it from me, staring at it. “Another pine-abble?”

“It’s where Sponge Bob lives.”

I wait for him to have sort of issue with it, but I guess the mention of Sponge Bob helps because he clutches it to his chest. “Pine-abble under the sea,” he says and then runs off to his toy chest in the living room that’s already overflowing with over Kahuna Hotels pine-abbles.

I poke my head in the kitchen.

“Hey Loan,” I say.

She glances at me over her shoulder and gives a nod. “Hello Mr. Rocha.” Then she goes back to doing the dishes.

“You know it’s been a week, Loan,” I tell her, leaning against the doorway to the kitchen. “You can call me Kessler.”

“I prefer Mr. Rocha,” she says.

“Well if it’s what you prefer,” I tell her, happy that she’s talking at least this much. What’s with the women in my life barely giving me anything? “How was the kiddo?”

“Good. He napped. We went to the park.” She pauses. “He won’t go to the washroom.”

Uh oh. “What do you mean won’t go to the washroom? Is he constipated?”

She stops what she’s doing and turns to face me, shaking her head. “No I don’t think so. He says he’s afraid of the bathroom. Says the leprechauns live in there.”

“These damn leprechauns,” I say. “Do you know what he’s talking about?”

She shrugs. “No. He’s been okay otherwise. Hasn’t cried much. Said he misses you.”

My heart thaws into a puddle. “So if he hasn’t been going to the bathroom…”

“He won’t go alone, I have to go with him.”

I nod. “I see. We’ll I’ll have a talk with him and maybe get to the bottom of it.”

I head over to the living room where Hunter is playing with the stress-ball and a stuffed chicken I bought him at the airport. I’m already shuddering at the sight. I left the office with a note on the door for the custodians to beware of the cock in the washroom.

“Hey buddy,” I say to him, easing myself down to the floor so I’m sitting beside him. “How was your day?”

He doesn’t say anything. It’s like he doesn’t hear me.

“Hunter?”

He looks at me. “It was fine.”

“Just fine?”

“I saw a bird at the park.”

“It wasn’t a chicken, was it?” I ask sharply. I’ll be damned if they start coming after my child too.

He shakes his head. “It was a white bird. Miss Loan said it was a tractor bird because they drive tractors.”

“That’s pretty neat,” I tell him. “Hey, speaking of Miss Loan…you like her, right?”

He nods.

“Good. Just wanted to make sure she was nice to you.”

“I’m very nice!” Loan yells from the kitchen.

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