Death and Ducklings
Death and Ducklings
By Wes J. Pimentel
Like a few of my writings before this one, this is a true story; just a little anecdote about baby ducks… and death.
I was recently on vacation with my girlfriend. We spent two glorious weeks at an Orlando resort. It was like we were living a fantasy. It was amidst all this perfection that life decided to remind us that it has a morbid sense of humor.
There we were, on the screened-in patio of our room; in our luxurious robes; enjoying the man-made bit of nature the resort designers and builders had so graciously placed right outside our room. We would do this from time to time throughout our two weeks and just enjoy the deliberate serenity of it all. It was very relaxing.
One of the preferred pastimes of the resort guests (ourselves included) was feeding the ducks. There were lots of ducks around and lots of dorky tourists willing to shell out as much bread as these lucky little bastards could scarf down.
Now, my girlfriend is an animal lover, which means I ended up helping her feed ducks on quite a few occasions. I remember that on one of these fowl feeding field trips we came across a really big bird. This bird stood about 5’4” with long, spindly legs, a football-sized mid-section, a really long neck, and a long, straight beak. It was quite striking in appearance. It was nonchalantly crossing the street, looking like a European model in slow-motion. I said, “Ooh! Let’s feed that one!” We walked across the street, confronted it and chucked some bread on the ground. It didn’t even glance at the ground. It just kind of stared at us, no doubt wondering what the hell was wrong with us. Now, I’m a city boy, but I do watch my fair share of the Discovery Channel. After examining his body for a moment, I came to an amateur conclusion. I said to my girl, “I think he’s carnivorous. He probably only eats live stuff.” We gave no more thought to the non-bread-eating beast.
I can also remember that on a few occasions our benefactors included momma ducks, with all their little rug rats in tow. There were two distinct sets of ducklings residing in our immediate area. The members of one set were about the size of a baseball. The other set was extremely young; too young to even be able to eat bread. The latter set was obviously brand-new, or just-hatched, or whatever. I’m sure you can imagine how taken-in the local children were by the little guys. I must admit, I too was quite charmed and even picked one up, prompting an immediate reprisal from mom. She didn’t like that one bit. Needless to say we had developed a sort of relationship with the neighborhood wildlife.
So, back to the patio. From our vantage point, there was a tree blocking a considerable amount of the “pond”. As we gazed at the scene, there was a bit of a commotion in duck country. Then, the model- bird, seeming to have come from the direction of the ducky disturbance, appeared under the tree. We didn’t see what had happened because the tree was blocking the spot where the ducks had been chillin’. What we did see was that he had something in his beak. It appeared to have limbs. My girl and I focused all of our attention on this item, but it was hard to make out. I remember it had webbed feet. At first I thought it was a frog, but the legs looked too straight. We discussed whether or not it was a duckling, but the evidence was inconclusive. Plus, he swallowed the evidence whole, making it difficult to further investigate. Just this minor incident was gruesome enough, because after he had gotten the little morsel past his beak, you could see the bulge making its way down his two-foot neck. I would describe this part of the incident as “kinda gross”. We had no idea how traumatically hilarious the rest of this was about to be.
A few minutes after the big bird’s snack, some adorable little girls were gathered at the edge of the man-pond, feeding the adorable little ducklings. This is the part where life displayed its dark sense of humor. Seeing the opportunity for the second course of his meal, the predator made its move. We watched the bird take off toward the little girls. In the next instant we heard a replay of the daffy disturbance from a few minutes prior. This time the noises were accompanied by the blood-curdling, horror-movie-esque shrieks of little girls coming face-to-face with one of the cruel realities of life. In an ironic twist you couldn’t expect from the most seasoned screenplay writers, these well-intentioned youngsters, who really thought they were hooking the ducklings up, were actually providing the perfect bait needed to make the ducklings, well, sitting ducks.
The little girls were screaming things like, “He got one of ‘em!” and, “He’s eating one!” and “Moooooom!” as they ran away from the carnage. It was so incredibly disturbing, while at the same time so hilarious. One thing that made it particularly impactful was the quality of the wailing of the little girls. It was the unbridled sound of raw trauma. It was the shattering of innocence. It was the blunt force impact of finding out that every time Mommy and Daddy had assured them the world was OK, it was bullshit. My girlfriend and I just stared in horrified amusement. I remember thinking about how lucky I felt to be witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime event. Once again the big, feathered beast nonchalantly returned to his duckling stand and proceeded to calmly murder the baby duck by dunking him repeatedly and shaking him until he stopped squirming. Then it was “down the hatch” again and we got to see the bulge travel all the way down his long, S-shaped neck.
You would think that was it. Well, I guess ducklings aren’t all that filling because our friend just couldn’t resist one more helping. We watched one last time as he flew over, plucked another duckling from the protective gaze of its mother and cruised back to his tree, like some loner with a bag of Chinese take-out. This particular part of the meal was gruesome in its own way too. This little ducky was the most vigorous of the three and appeared to be the one that put up the biggest fight. It was sad to watch all of its pathetically futile efforts while in the imminent clutches of its guaranteed demise. I remember at one point, while the bird was holding the duckling by nothing more than his head, the poor little guy had both of his adorable little webbed feet pressed against the thing’s beak, straining in vain desperation for release. Then it was one more macabre bulge travelling down the old one-way tunnel.
Needless to say the serenity had been interrupted. We all have to learn about death somehow. These poor little girls got a lesson in death with all the delicate subtlety of a smack n the face. This horrific event will no-doubt haunt them for years to come. I can practically hear them fifteen years from now, as they relate the event to their shrink through sobs and tears.
What I like most about the whole thing, though, was how much that bird resembled a stork. When you think about what storks symbolize, it becomes quite evident that not only does life have a morbid sense of humor; it also has a wicked sense of irony.
If You Liked This, Please Try:
- http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Frog-Story by Imadork.