This story won a "best of publication" for the issue of the small magazine it was in.
|Listen! I can hear them coming. Got to get ready. Can’t let them know I’m here. I’ll crouch behind this lawn chair and wait. They’ve stopped just around the corner of the house and are murmuring to each other as if they know that I’m here and what I have planned for them. |
There! the first one is sticking his head around the corner and surveying the scene with his evil, beady little eyes.
Amazingly, he doesn’t see me behind the chair and keeps on coming. Got to wait until all three are on the deck before I launch my attack. The other two are in sight now. They’ve jumped up on the deck. They’re coming right at me, blindly following their leader, oblivious to the danger. I grip the garbage can lid tightly in my right hand and start to tense up, preparing to spring forth. The broken broomstick in my left hand is poised and ready to strike. They’re five feet away. Can’t wait any longer. With a mighty roar I jump from behind the chair, banging on the garbage can lid with the broomstick.
“YOU GUCKS GET OFF THE DECK!” I yell.
Unfortunately, the plastic arm of the lawn chair has become broken and jagged from months of use and seems to reach out and grab the zipper of my pants as I leap upward. The zipper and about two feet of cloth are immediately separated from the rest of the pants. In one of those amazing “freak of inertia” moments, the lawn chair is hurtled up and outward, landing just beyond the madly fleeing ducks. This causes them to instantly reverse direction and come screaming toward me at the speed of light, spraying feathers and other assorted duck debris.
Stunned by this turn of events, I’m no match for the momentum of the three oversized birds. They easily bowl me over and then disappear around the corner of the house, emitting panicked cries of “WACK WACK WACK.” I look down at the moist, pliable substance that I’ve come to rest on, and remember why I was trying to keep the “gucks” off the deck in the first place.
They were so cute when they first arrived. It was the weekend we had moved to our new “mini farm” in the country. My sister-in-law gave them to us as a housewarming present. I made a mental note to reciprocate soon, maybe with a box of bees.
Our two year old niece had run up to the box that was doing all the cheeping and looked in.
“Gucks!” She had yelled. We thought she had been trying to say “ducks”, but as it turned out, she had been prophesying.
The title stuck. They were kind of irresistible at that age. Little beaks and webbed feet, constantly in motion. I had reached in and picked one up and it immediately nestled down in my hands and bonded with me.
“Uh oh,” My wife said. “She’s had a little accident.”
I looked at my dripping hands. That “little accident” would have put some horses to shame. After that, it seemed like at least one of the gucks was having an accident at any given time. All they seemed to do was eat, grow and have accidents. Of course, the accidents grew in proportion to the birds. When they were about half way grown we decided to start letting them outside during the day. We brought them inside for the night, so the coyotes wouldn’t get them. They loved to hang out on the back deck and before long, the deck was covered end to end with accident. They were fully grown before long and we started leaving them out all night. From time to time I found myself staring at the deck, trying to remember what color it had been, and fantasizing about staking the gucks out near where I had seen a coyote track.
They seemed to sense that my attitude had slowly changed toward them and started avoiding me. Pretty soon I started finding accidents in the strangest places. I had been reading a book out on the back deck one day and had left it on the little plastic table that came with the lawn chairs. The next day it was covered with accident. The gucks couldn’t fly so it was a mystery how they managed to get the accident up so high. I began to think that maybe they had secretly retractable legs like the cartoon characters my kids liked to watch on Saturday mornings. (The Mighty Guckbots)? On subsequent occasions I found drinking glasses, my car, and even the walls of the house covered with accident. I was determined to find out how the gucks were doing it.
One night I went out and deliberately placed a pair of my best shoes on the table on the back deck, then I went through the house turning off lights and pretending to go to bed. Then I snuck to the back door, quietly opened it a crack, and waited. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I heard the murmuring of the gucks. At just the moment when I thought that they had enough time to reach the shoes and stage the “accident”, I pulled the door open and flipped on the back porch light at the same time. There, frozen like deer in a car’s headlights, were the three gucks. Two of the gucks were holding the third one over my shoes. The mystery was solved. Of course, the sudden lights, noise and motion frightened the guck held aloft so badly that it had the biggest accident of all time on my shoes, something I had been hoping to prevent.
Since that night it has been all out war between me and the gucks, and so far they’ve been winning. Now I’m ready to try my last desperate weapon. I figure if gucks can learn to work together to plant fake accidents, then surely coyotes can learn to read a map to my back deck.