Duck Week

By Dawn Wilson

 

 

Two ducks talking death.

One needed a haircut. Yeah, even ducks.

You can say what you want about ducks, that doesn’t change the fact that they can get a big mop on top and be all fucking existential when they want to be.

“Quack,” says the one.

“Whack,” says the other.

Which makes all sorts of sense, when you think about it in the grand scheme, first the principality, and finally the cosmos. Swirling rocks and dust and atomic black holes. The pinpoint of the All surrounded by Chaos.

And a city pond. Honking cars, pollution, algae, dead fish, a few plastic reeds jammed into the silt around the water’s edge. Kids on bikes throwing rocks. Wedding parties throwing rice. Look at the creatures scampering past, late for work.

“You agree?” asked the first duck.

“The only question.”

“Is quack or whack.”

The quack duck took it on good form that it was up to him to be the first duck ever to drown. Suicidal duck.

The whack duck took it into his head to go out and commit murder. Homicidal duck.

Two sides of the same coin, with the ridge of poultry connecting them. Metaphorically, they shook on it (a nudging of beaks).

“If you’re still alive, meet back here in a week.”

Honk honk honk (the irreverent sound of laughter of the deranged, funneled through the mini-nostrils of a fowl). “You don’t have any faith.”

“Not in you.”

“Nor I in you.”

Whack lunged at quack and got a beakful of feathers and pulled. Did the violence calm him? Did the violence rile his friend? Or were both innate? That a sudden emotion, be it anger or apathy, would suddenly be swung to the opposite end: peace and action.

“Here’s what I promise you. Before I die, I’ll kill more people than you,” said the suicidal duck, changing his tune. “In a week.”

“Open hunting season?”

“All open.”

Two sinister ducks at the end of the year. Two ducks who had, perhaps unfortunately, survived their own hunting season.

“Why, if they’ve got open season on us, don’t we have recips?”

“’Cause we don’t have bureaucracy.”

“Ah. Which, to us, means open season…”

“All the time. Any time. Day or night. City or country.”

Two ducks burned out on life. Two ducks without anything to hold onto. Two ducks without a formation. They took to the air. One week.

Duck week.

“Oh, Mommy, look at the cute little duck.”

“Honey, there’s something wrong with that duck. One of those avian diseases. Leave it alone.”

“But, Mommy, it’s shaking.”

“Come on.”

“Shouldn’t we at least take it to the vet?”

“If it’s lucky, it’ll get hit by a car.”

“And if it’s not lucky?”

“Thousands of people could die of the flu. Come on.”

“Ouch!”

Sinister duck on a cardboard box laughing to himself as the human mother pulled on the wing of the small child and avoided talking about the real question: when is death humane?

Honk honk honk.

Angry laughing duck on a cardboard box, planning something and shitting on the fresh cabbage delivered to the Wong Duc Res~raunt (neon burnout).

Angry duck, thinking small.

Suicidal duck across town. Suicidal duck breaking into the zoo after hours. Suicidal duck stealing a poison dart frog.

“What a pretty blue you are.”

“You appreciate that?”

“Yes, frog, I appreciate your color.”

“The people who come, they only talk about how many people I can kill.”

“Hopefully more than one?”

“For you, I promise.”

Poison dart frog stuffed inside a box of Parisian delicacies.

“Don’t think I betrayed you,” said the old duck.

“These are very large legs. Amphibious legs. I don’t recognize them personally. But do you mean me to be cooked with all these legs in this box?”

“I don’t know what your fate should be.”

“I’m worth more to you alive. Everyone who touches these legs will die, I promise you that.”

“Then I’ll take you with me, just a little longer.”

Uneasy alliance? Amphibians and poultry. Easy alliance.

“Have you seen what they’ve done to my pond? They put plastic reeds around it so they don’t have to see it. Real reeds won’t grow.”

Angry duck pulled the pin from a grenade and let it fall, from a hundred feet, into a playground compound of orphaned children. They thought they were protected from pedophiles. They were not protected from falling items.

Angry duck: 10
Suicidal duck: 30

Whack saw quack in passing and said, “We’ll see, we’ll see.”

Quack said, “It’s okay if your humans were smaller and unable to get away, whereas mine willingly ingested the poison.”

“Hey!” Very angry duck. Competitive duck.

“It’s because I haven’t given up on the world. I entered into an alliance.”

“You? You haven’t given up on the world?”

“No. That’s why I wish to remove myself from the world, but not remove the world from the cosmos.”

Spinning dust and gases and a black hole, somewhere over the rainbow and through the hole in the ozone, too far to be seen with the naked eye.

Jealous duck found an open window and ducked inside. Inside, jealous duck slitting throats of the sleeping family.

He could just have easily been a bat. A rabid bat. Rabid bat biting sleeping child. Rabies, undetected and untreated, would have been a terrible way to die.

Garroted by a duck, on the other hand, was quick. Clouded with the dreams of sleep, the deaths became confused and less painful.

Nice duck, saving that family from uncertain fates.

Angry duck: 13
Suicidal duck: 30

Angry duck flew into a pawn shop where the owner was showing a man how to load an automatic rifle with a clip.

“Hey, look, ha ha, it’s a duck!”

“Shoo duck, back to the door!”

“Hey, Rachel, come out and get a load of this duck. Bring the broom.”

Angry duck landing on an automatic rifle. The sidewalk outside the plate glass window used to be crowded. The pawn shop did not make the sale.

Angry duck: 20
Suicidal duck: 30

Said the poison dart frog, “You’ve been treating me well, duck, why don’t you toss me in that shop of fresh fish? I’ll hop around a little and no one will know.”

“That would be too difficult to count the outcome.”

“But your friend is catching up.”

“Is this a contest?”

“I thought it was.”

“Only in his head. In my head, I’m taking one week to be God.”

“I’ve never met God.”

“God plans the most vengeance with the least damage. God is very Zen in his murders. Plus, God wants it to be known that He is the perpetrator.”

“So where are we going?”

“Before we go to Hell, we are going to the church to pray. Today’s Sunday.”

Poison dart frog in the holy water font.

In the name of the Father—

One touch of the poisonous water and the people dropped, in mid-prayer.

And Son—

They fell atop each other.

And Holy Ghost.

It was like a ghost had killed them. No sign of the poison, no sign of the perpetrators. God rained vengeance from above. And only on the believers.

Holy dart frog in the priest’s holy water sprinkler. Dipped in the bucket. Priest raising the silver sprinkler and flicking his congregation as he walked to the pulpit beneath the crucified Jesus. Behind him, the congregation, ever so blessed, dropped onto their kneelers, heads bowed against their pews, and did not rise for the Benediction.

Angry duck: 20
Suicidal duck and friend: 300

“I could die happy, I suppose.”

“But you won’t?” asked the retrieved and dizzy frog.

“How are you feeling?”

“He flicked me a little too piously at the altar boys. I think the altar boys have been up to something. But now we will never know.”

“I suppose we won’t.”

“Hopefully for their sakes they prayed this morning.”

“Would you pray before church? Before confession?”

“I think not.”

Angry duck in a box of guns.

Angry duck: 25
Suicidal duck and friend: 300

Angry duck in a fireworks plant.

Angry duck: 40
Suicidal duck and friend: 300

“Perhaps you were right, friend. Biding your time was best.”

“I had many years to get used to the plastic reeds in the pond. I had many years to think about migrating and not returning. I had many years. Just because this was the first time we’d ever spoken of death doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking of it. For many years.”

“You’ve got a spring to your step.”

“Mimicking you.”

“No. You seem happier.”

“That the things in my head are finally coming out? And that they are successful? But they’re still raining death. Inside, I think I shouldn’t be happy to be successful about it. I only entered the contest in the hopes of showing my friend a thing or two. That if he stopped being hot-headed and just thought things through, he too could be successful. And have a spring in his step. But… too bad… he’s got a preference for fire and brimstone. If it’s not flashy, he doesn’t see any reason to do it.”

Angry duck on the Interstate. The end of angry duck?

A car swerved. Flipped.

Another car swerved. Chain reaction.

Angry duck flew away to a TV store to watch for the news.

Angry duck: 62
Suicidal duck and friend: 300

The television:

“We know drivers are concerned about things they find in the street, but anything smaller than a deer, it’s been recommended that you just run over it. Isn’t that true, Katie?”

“We have with us here at the studio an expert driver and researcher in crash situations, Mark Ball. Mark, would you tell us the damage a bull moose can do to a car and driver, as opposed to the damage a duck can do?”

“Does your friend think he’ll ever catch up with your numbers?”

“He’s stubborn and flighty. We have until morning to increase the carnage. He’ll stay up all night, letting his anger rule his choices. I plan to sleep well. Where would you like to live?”

“Me?”

“Yes. This is where we say goodbye. You’ve been a good frog to me. But the next step, my final, I have to take by myself. I’m not the type to get others into a suicide pact.”

“Yeah, but… I thought you were happy.”

“Happier. But that doesn’t mean I’ve changed my mind. I could never continue peacefully, not having done what we’ve done.”

“But the guilt lies with me. You never pulled a trigger or a grenade pin.”

“No, but I sprung you from the joint. You see? I’ve unleashed Death.”

“Hey! Where are you going?”

“Goodbye, Death.”

“Hey! My friends call me Wilbur.”

Abandoned and very sad poison dart frog taking up residence in a water park.

Angry duck: 62
Accidental alliance: 340

Sunrise.

International flights taking off at the airport.

A lone duck without his flock, flying through the blue sky, few clouds. Hello, poor duck. Does the poor duck understand that nowadays, airplanes use shatterproof glass? And that they have more than one pilot, just in case a rogue turkey were to shatter through the glass and impale the chief pilot?

Yes, the lone duck grew up in an urban pond. The lone duck thought much about hearsay and gossip around the pond and what he saw on the televisions he happened upon late at night.

One lone suicidal duck, seeking retribution, seeking absolution.

One fucking duck sucked into the engine. One fucking duck with a crowbar.

Angry duck: 62
Suicidal duck: 682

One formerly angry duck and a poison dart frog met in a water park for a memorial.

“Well, he did it,” the depressed duck said.

“Sure did.”

“He proved he could do it.”

“Yup. He won.”

“I’m just not sure what he’s trying to teach me here.”

“Bide your time and pretend you’re God,” the holy dart frog suggested.

“Hmph.”

“Yeah.”

“And get some likeminded friends.”

“Oh yeah, that. He was a good bird.”

“Yeah, he was. So why’d he kill himself?”

“Guilt?”

“Do you feel guilty for your part in the several hundred people you killed?”

“Nah. It wasn’t my idea to be born extremely poisonous.”

“If I want to play God, will you be my agent?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.”

“Just keep this in mind: I don’t have any delusions about being God.”

“You’d need a bigger head.”

“Yeah.”

“My head’s not so big, either.”

“Give it time. That’s something your friend suggested. To take lots and lots and lots of time.”

On the television:

“It’s been one heck of a week, Katie.”

“I agree, Ralph. I don’t think we’ll see a week like this anytime soon.”

“It was like a plague of locusts, don’t you think?”

“The Game Commission isn’t sure it believes in coincidence, Ralph. They fear there could be a rogue flock of ducks living in the sewers. They’re giving hunters this last week of the year as an extra duck week.”

“Oh, good. I do like a good duck. And I’m a great shot. Blam, blam, BLAM!”

 

 

 

 

BIO: A graduate of Bath Spa University in England, Dawn Wilson has had the pleasure to dabble in kitsch, surrealism, and espièglerie. Her work can be found in Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Gone Lawn and Liquid Imagination and forthcoming from Apocrypha and Abstractions and Paper Darts Magazine while the author herself can be found dismantling the kitchen for wearable items, or at nightdawn.wordpress.com.

 

 

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