Saturday, May 12, 2012
WARNING: The following TRUE story may be considered too graphic for some readers. Reader discretion is advised.
I had all sorts of short-lived pets growing up—from the mundane (goldfish and hamsters), to the unusual (frogs and crawdads). They invariably ended up buried in milk cartons in our back yard. Perhaps the strangest and shortest-lived was the duck that belonged to my friend Bill and me.
When I was a kid growing up in Warsaw, Indiana, we lived on the edge of town, just a few blocks from a duck farm. The kids in the neighborhood were in awe and a little in fear of the owner of the farm, the man we called "Old Man Beyers." There were stories that the fence surrounding the farm was electrified and would fry you if you touched the wrong part, and that Old Man Beyers always carried a shotgun—if he caught you trespassing, he'd fill you full of buckshot. Of course, none of the stories stopped us from taking the shortcut cross his field.
One day, inevitably, Old Man Beyers caught Bill and me trespassing. Instead of giving us the butt-load of buckshot we were expecting, he took us to his duck pond and showed us his ducks. "Do you want to take one home?" he asked us.
Oh, boy, did we!
I don't remember the duck's name. We had him for such a short time, maybe we never got around to naming him. We made a pen for him in Bill's back yard, which was adjacent to my back yard, so that I could come and visit him any time. Old Man Beyers gave us enough duck food to last a few days and told us where we could buy more. As it turned out, we didn't need more.
A day or two after we brought the duck home, Bill showed up at my house, crying.
"He's dead!" he sobbed.
"Our duck! Aliens got him!"
Bill showed me the scene of the crime. There was the duck's body, huddled in one corner of the pen. But where was the head?
"It must have been aliens!" Bill said, "Who else would take the head and leave the body behind? And there's no blood!" There was a certain logic in this.
We buried the body in the empty field across from Bill's house. We never did find out what happened to the head. Our parents told us it was probably a dog, or maybe a fox. But we preferred to think that our duck was the subject of some bizarre alien experiment.
Who knows? Maybe he's still alive in some way—out there exploring new worlds and new civilizations, boldly going where no duck has gone before. I'd like to think so.