Duck Bait

Our neighborhood is full of ducks. Not cuddly-wuddly little fuzzy duckies that you just wanna hold in your hands and rub up against your cheeks. I’m talkin’ huge, mean, dirty, ‘I’ll-eat-your-food or I’ll-eat-you’ ducks. I am terrified of them. They always travel in packs and they’re on a mission.

When Holden and I first moved into our home last fall, we were greeted by a crew of them in our driveway. Holden wasn’t quite a year yet, still young and vulnerable. Naturally I was protective from letting him get too close. So I held him on my hip to go outside and look at the ‘cute’ ducks. They seemed fine so I decided to grab some animal crackers. I thought Holden would get a kick out of feeding them. Bad idea.

I didn’t catch on right away so I fed them for about 3 days in a row. But then they just kept coming back, and more of them. They weren’t so cute anymore. In fact they were grungy and creepy looking. Day after day they’d show up. Shitting in my driveway. Waiting for their breakfast. It was every morning before I glanced out my window I would get a picture in my head of one of those scary movie interjections saying what day it was with that terrifying one syllable note. Like in those M. Night Shaymalan thrillers. You know, like this:

And then that next morning I saw him. The ring leader. Right in front. The one with the bright red face. He was bigger, stronger than the rest. His wings flapping hard smacking his sides. He meant business. And he was looking right at me.

The dogs were going crazy. They could smell the group just beyond the front door. But the leader didn’t budge. Right away I visualized him trying to beak out my dog’s eyeballs, pulling my hair, picking up Holden with his talons and riding off into the sky laughing wickedly at me. A scene straight out of that old movie Birds.

I don’t think I let Holden out in the front yard for weeks. Slowly the group started to diminish. The red-faced one last to go. I won the battle, but I didn’t know the war was still on.

The ducks were gone for now, their acidic droppings still lingering on my driveway. Well, until my dad hosed it away. I didn’t see them through the winter and spring months.

Early this evening Holden and I were walking outside to get the mail, one of his favorite daily jobs to do. Handfull of cheeseballs. Then, in the distance, I saw a couple black dots moving quickly. They were in front of us in no time. Holden wasn’t in my arms. And he was gripping one last cheeseball. It felt like I was moving in slow motion and being held back as I tried to quickly approach Holden, scoop him up, and run inside to safety.

Holden had a huge smile on his face while staring at the “cute” ducks in amazement. As I grabbed him I glanced to the crowd. The red-faced one was back. The ring leader. His eyes big and black. Standing right in front, a foot away. He was back and ready to fight. For Holden’s one beloved cheeseball this time. We made eye-contact for what felt like an eternity. It was as if those big black eyes stared right into my soul sucking the life out.

Slowly, I cautiously turned around. A minute later I was running. We made it inside. For now. Day 1.

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