Darryl the Duck
When little Frankie was given the assignment of taking home a duck egg and making sure it was kept warm and safe over a weekend he took it very seriously. Both his parents and his teacher were shocked at the attention he paid it and the great lengths he went to ensure that it was returned to school the following Monday not only in one piece but spotless. A mother tiger doesn’t dote on her cubs as much as Frankie looked after his egg. Although unusual, for the policy is very clear on these matters, the school actually allowed Frankie to take home the duckling after it hatched due to the positive influence it seemed to have on him. It was Frankie’s first pet and that first night he went to bed right next to the incubator just so his new friend wouldn’t be lonely. The next day he named his pet duck Darryl and the two of them seemed inseparable.
If that isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. You’re not sure which direction this story is headed but you’re certain it’s going to arrive there pretty quickly.
The next day Frankie was showing Darryl to his friends when one of them accidently stepped on him. It was, of course, an accident born from the excitement of young boys crowding around a new pet and all parties felt terrible but as his friend’s foot came down on Darryl’s head there was a slight but definitely not inaudible crunching noise, despite the forgiving nature of the grass beneath him, that seemed to come from the neighborhood of Darryl’s skull and would seem to play a noteworthy role in the future of said duck. Frankie scooped him up and at first all seemed to be well as Darryl seemed to shake it off like a trooper but Frankie was immediately convinced that the certain twinkle that had been in his pet’s eye since he fought his way out of his eggshell was now extinguished. A theory given more credence when later that night Frankie left Darryl alone in the bathtub to have a little swim only to return a few minutes later to find him upside down in the water. Luckily a few pushes on the chest area had the duckling spewing forth a modest quantity of water and spluttering and other things ducks do when they have unexpectedly ventured back from the other side.
Darryl had had quite the day.
After the chaos of resuscitation settled down, Darryl seemed to have no interest in his food. The only thing that Frankie could get him to eat was bread crumbs from the chicken tenders he had offered up in desperation. Then Darryl fell asleep. On his back. Frankie looked it up online and found that ducks don’t sleep on their back but there his duckling was reclined and out like a light.
The next day Frankie thought fresh air should be at the top of the menu and would do them both some good. Out they ventured to a nearby field, bat and glove in hand, to enjoy some sunshine and baseball. Frankie took great pains to position Darryl far away from the action but as fate would have it the same boy that had stepped on his head a day earlier hit a crazy foul ball that hurtled with no delay straight at our unfortunate water fowl. Where moments before stood a noble, albeit small, yellow duck there was nothing but a few tiny feathers floating gracefully to earth. To find the final resting place of the duck in question, your eyes would have to follow the path of the baseball. Having done that you would find a small pale lump about halfway between the descending down and the baseball which had come to rest about 30 or so feet away. If you were to have said that the ball had gotten all of Darryl you wouldn’t be overstating it.
Frankie was aghast and the boy who had twice in two days damaged the hero of our tale was inconsolable. As one the boys sprinted to what they assumed would be the corpse of a small duck, but instead found Darryl struggling to his feet. A great cry arose and Darryl was hoisted up amongst loud cheers and passed around and twice dropped as the boys eagerly praised his resilience.
The neighbor’s cat got a hold of Darryl. Frankie was looking high and low for his friend in his living room when he happened to look outside and see him in the mouth of Peaches, the Russian Blue who lived next door. I don’t have to tell you his reaction.
Well I guess technically speaking I do. I should have said that you can probably guess his reaction, which would have been much less confusing. Anyway, Frankie streaked outside and chased Peaches up the largest tree in his front yard. High up into the tree. Like tippy-top high. Standing at the right angle and craning his neck in just the right way he thought he could make out the outline of the cat amongst the assorted leaves and limbs. Quickly doing what any boy would do in that situation, he started to hurl rocks in the general direction of the furry ducknapper until he saw one rock find its way to the target whereupon Peaches let go of his prize with a screech and Frankie watched Darryl tumble down the tree, careful to hit and ricochet off of every large branch in his path, and then in a dazzling display of hand-to-eye coordination the panicked boy was almost able to catch him before he hit the ground.
This time there were at least three distinct crunching noises. One of which could be written off as the sound a duck makes when it lands half on an acorn but the other two were definitely causes for concern. Frankie scooped up his pet and gazed lovingly into his eyes. Darryl on the other hand would have given him a “Are you fucking kidding me? Is every day going to be like this?” look if he had been conscious.
Frankie was now the proud owner of a duck that sunk. He found this out as he washed him off and his pet once again joined him in the territory of the awake and aware. Darryl looked around, shook his little wings and then walked off his owner’s hand and promptly sunk to the bottom of the tub.
Here’s the thing, at this point in the story I am really torn about whether to end it with Darryl having a riding mower pass over him only to waddle away unscathed and triumphant or having him, through some hilarious happenstance, ride a skateboard into a sewer grate and drop down to a certain fate of being eaten by either a rat or a snake. Indecision is always a red flag for us professional writers and I now recognize a fatal flaw in the storytelling, which is why I am not sure how to wrap it up.
The perspective was all wrong. As cute as this saga might be, exactly how cute depending (as is usually the case with these things) on your imagination, it absolutely should have been written from the duck’s point of view. A third person account was both predictable and beneath a professional writer such as myself. Now I realize that this revelation means having to start it all over again and rewrite it and that’s just not going to happen so it’s now up to you to decide whether or not to put in the necessary time and energy to restart it from the beginning but from a duck-centric viewpoint and fill in the necessary gaps or just curse me loudly for wasting your time and move on.
I can’t really complain if you abandon it but I would be interested to know which ending you chose left to your own devices.
Try it, you’ll probably be sorry.