Edge’s house wasn’t hard to spot. It was the only one on the street without a ‘proper’ lawn. Instead, the hill of his front yard had been carefully landscaped to allow for rows of planters where he grew vegetables, herbs, fruits, and the like.
Most of his neighbors loved him for it. Each season would produce more bounty than Edge could use on his own, and he’d happily give away or, on occasion, sell his surplus.
Those that had an attitude with it were the ones who had decided that a traditional grass yard was the end-all, be-all of good housekeeping, and Edge couldn’t give two shakes of a rat’s ass what they thought.
His backyard was much the same, albeit flatter. There, the plants had to be chosen carefully to be safe for chickens to consume.
He had three of them, and the eggs they produced were as appreciated by the neighborhood as his zucchini.
Every day, when the weather permitted, Edge would allow his small brood to have free reign over the backyard. It gave them good exercise and kept nasty spiders from finding their way inside the house. Most of the time.
Today started out like any other bright summer day. He let the ladies have the run of the yard as he did some weeding and general tending to his gardens. Most of the time, the chickens would stick close to him and gorge themselves on the insects he sent scurrying around with his digging.
It wasn’t until he heard a chorus of shrill clucks and squawking that he realized they hadn’t been by his side for a few minutes.
He got up in a hurry to find out what was going on and make sure they were okay.
They were gathered by the fence that led to the front yard. He instantly calmed down; it wasn’t unusual for one of the neighborhood kids to come over and ask to see the chickens. The ladies loved the attention, so Edge would often allow it.
But then he noticed there were only two chickens by the gate. A glance out at the front yard told him why--one of the little shits had managed to squeeze through where the fence had been bent a week prior and free herself to the wild yonder of the front yard.
He smirked to himself. She wouldn’t go far, but it was best to catch her before she found a plant that might hurt her.
He carefully shooed the other chickens aside and went out through the gate.
As soon as he started toward her, she ruffled her wings out and dashed toward the front of the house, clucking madly. She knew she’d been bad and she didn’t want to get caught.
Edge ran after her and ended up chasing her through his vegetable garden before she managed to disappear into the hedge that separated his property from that of his neighbor’s.
He could hear her cooing softly, waiting for him to find her before she’d make another mad dash, probably back toward the house. He smirked to himself and crouched down, moving silently with the practiced ease of years of training.
He moved around the hedge, creeping slowly, until he spotted her.
“Hey there, beautiful lady,” he said, reaching out to her. “Come to papa.”
Edge shot up straight and realized then that he’d stumbled onto his neighbor sunbathing.
His neighbor who had just moved in a week ago with his brother, both skeletons like Edge. He hadn’t met either of them yet; he wasn’t one to go introducing himself with a plate of cookies and he didn’t take part in neighborhood gossip.
The skeleton monster before him was lounging back on a beach-type lawn chair with something that looked like a tanning reflector now set down on his ribs.
“that’s an interesting way to introduce yourself to your neighbors.”
His voice was deep and rich.
“Uh...no, sorry, I was talking to my chicken.”
The other skeleton sat up and set the reflector aside. He was wearing bright orange swim trunks and a black bikini top with skeletal hands on it as if they were holding the wearer’s breasts.
“your...chicken?” he asked doubtfully.
“Yes. She got out while I was gardening.”
He could still hear the offending pet clucking happily in the hedge; she was probably having the time of her life picking out all the bugs and other tasty treats it had to offer.
“you have a chicken?”
“Actually, I have three chickens. The others were too big to fit through the bend in the fence, I suppose. I apologize for startling you. I’ll let you get back to your...tanning?”
An adorable orange blush rose on the other’s cheekbones. “heh. yeah. inside joke between my bro and me. you need any help catching that elusive chicken?”
Edge’s first thought was to say no, he had this handled. He thought better of it, however. His neighbor was odd, that was a fact, but he was also easy on the sockets. That outfit did nothing to hide his exquisitely polished bones, pearly white and unblemished. They had a soft sheen to them, sweat or lotion, Edge couldn’t tell. Either way, the effect was tantalizing.
It couldn’t hurt to be in his company for a while longer.
“That would be appreciated, thank you. My name is Edge.” He held out his hand.
“rus.” the other stepped forward and shook. “what’s the chicken’s name?”
Rus snorted. “for fucking real? oh, holy shit that’s awesome. what are the other ones named?”
“My brother named them for me. He has a...unique sense of humor. The others are named Noodle Soup and Dumpling.”
Rus’ laughter was beautiful. Edge liked it. “that’s amazing. so, how do we catch a wayward chicken?”
In the end, it was surprisingly simple. Rus and Edge both crouched down to call to her, and she ran right for Rus.
“hey, she likes me!” He pet her gently, and she cooed happily.
“She does.” She clearly had good taste, Edge thought. “Would you like to meet the others?”
Edge picked the chicken up, earning him a squawk of protest. He shushed her and led the way back to his backyard.
“hey, so you grow all your own stuff?” Rus asked as they walked between the planters toward the driveway.
“Yes. I find it much more economical and healthy than purchasing store bought foods that have been over-treated with pesticides.”
“my bro would agree. he wants to talk to you about your stuff, how you got set up and whatnot. is that cool?”
Edge turned to him once they reached the fence, the other two chickens kicking up a fuss begging for attention.
“That would be fine.”
Rus smiled broadly and nodded. “i’ll let him know. tell me who’s who.”
Edge let them both in, carefully navigating their welcoming committee, and taught Rus all about his chickens. He answered all of Rus’ eagerly asked questions. He found himself drawn in by Rus’ enthusiasm as much as his appearance. He wanted to know more about his neighbor, make him laugh, see the gleam in his eye lights before he told a particularly painful joke.
It seemed Rus’ sense of humor matched that of his brother’s. Lovely.
And yet, it was lovely. Rus was lovely.
Both skeletons looked up when they heard a shrill cry from a yard over.
“aw, shit, i told him i’d just be outside. i’d better get back ‘n’ let him know i didn’t get kidnapped.” Rus’ smirk was delightful. “it’s been fun, edge.”
He stood up and held out a hand. Edge stood beside him and shook it.
“Come by any time,” he said, telling himself he needed to let go.
Rus winked. “i will.”
“Would you like me to walk you home?” Edge asked in a rush, his soul pounding. It would only grant him a few precious more moments with Rus, but he wanted those moments.
“nah, i know a shortcut. catch ya later!” Rus took his hand back and disappeared.
Oh. Another teleporter. Fantastic.
Edge sighed and sat down next to his weeding bucket.
“What am I doing, Noodle?” he asked, reaching out to scritch the chicken at his feet.
She granted no insights; rather, she pecked at the grass by his feet in typical chicken fashion.
Instead of thinking too much more about it, Edge got up to go inspect his fence and see what he needed to do to keep his flock from playing Houdini again.
At least he knew where to find Rus. Perhaps he’d bake up a batch of cookies and take it over to introduce himself properly after all.