By Joseph Orost

 As often as the case, parents usually succumb to the pleadings of their children and buy baby chicks, ducks or some farm animal not knowing at the time how much trouble it will be to raise them.  So it was with me.  I had bought three newly hatched baby ducks at the Englishtown Auction in New Jersey for my little daughter, Jeannie.  She raised them in an orange crate covered with plastic film which she lowered or folded back depending on the weather conditions.

 The yellow-feathered Chirpers grew into white-feathered Quackers becoming pets which roamed around the yard.  They were large, husky and healthy.  It was a surprise to me when they started to fly since these were the domesticated kind and were not supposed to.

 Of course, each duck had a name.  The largest grew to be as big as a turkey and w as named Homer.  Homer’s takeoffs were shaky to say the least.  He would hug the ground until he got up enough ground speed to climb.  Then he would soar like a hawk.  His landings were much smoother until touchdown at which time his substitute for retrorockets was the vigorous flapping of his wings which always brought on a cloud of feathers.

 One day on takeoff he headed across the road into a collision course with a speeding automobile.  I had looked up just in time to observe the tragedy and hear the sound of a shattering front headlight and Homer’s subsequent dull, listless thud to the ground.  The irate driver stopped his car and headed towards me ready to engage in hostilities.  He seemed to want to say that I should lock up my dangerous creatures which are a menace to navigation. 

 But Jeannie stopped him in his tracks with her loud scream.  “You killed Homer.”  She immediately emoted with a shower of tears.  Not prepared for this, the stunned driver’s face changed like a chameleon from wrath to sympathy.  He clumsily apologized to her again and again the best he knew how and uneasily backed out of the situation as quick as possible driving away in the (now forgotten) damaged car.

 I fetched a spade and Jeannie tenderly carried the remains of Homer to the back yard for burial.  By this time she had calmed down until the neighbor came over to see what happened.

 “You’re not going to bury that big duck are you?  Give him to me!”  This started her off again.  “You’re going to eat Homer?”  She cried.  More screams and more wailing.

 Finally I calmed her down and assured her that Homer would get a decent burial.  And we proceeded to give Homer his due respects and all the while I was thinking, “Two more to go.”

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