When I was about 15, I took my little sibs to the zoo at Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where we stood on the bridge that spanned the pond and fed the ducks the bread from our sandwiches. It was spring and there were so many fluffy new ducklings.
Until the bread attracted the attention of the giant zoo-fed trout or carp that rose up to the surface and snagged a little duckling by its little duckling foot along with the bread and dragged it to the muddy bottom and ate it. I think that one of my little sisters may still be traumatized by the entire event, thirty years later. (Sorry, Amy)
I wrote a tragic duck story into "Road Dogs" that was published in Etchings Issue 4 - The Art of Conversation (3/08) by Ilura Press. Here's an excerpt:
‘Welcome to my family.’
‘Welcome to life. Your family doesn’t have a corner on dysfunction.’
‘Dysfunction would be a step up for my family. Did I ever tell you about the ducks?’
My mother rescued a batch of baby ducks off of the road by our old house. I was eight. Mama duck had been hit by a car, and a dozen ducklings were milling around on the road next to her body. My mother brought them home in a cardboard box and called Animal Control, who advised her to release them. So she did, into Crystal Creek at the end of our block, where they were promptly sucked into a drainage culvert, disappearing one at a time into the iron grate, aligned and orderly, like mechanical carnival ducks on a string pulling straight through the heart of the current.
‘My mother actually saved the last one. We took it home and named it Soup. In the night, Soup committed suicide. Body-slammed against the bars of the cage. Peter and I renamed him Compost.’
‘Nice,’ Vincent says.
‘The neighbour asks about the birdcage on the porch. I tell him, “We found these ducks.” And my Mom says, “No we didn’t.” Cuts me off. Like it never happened. Wouldn’t even acknowledge it. Ever.’
Vincent’s eyes narrow and he nods his head. ‘PTDD,’ he says. ‘Post Traumatic Duck Disorder.’
‘Psychosis. All-American family dysfunction’
‘My mom shot my dad with his own service revolver. You don’t hear me crying dysfunction.’
I roll my eyes. ‘I met your parents,’ I say. ‘They live in Tucson.’
Vincent and Lena are two of my very favorite characters, so I was thrilled to have their story put into print. (And I do love the Australian formatting by Ilura Press.)
And I do love ducks.