Bear In A Window

A story written following the level four lockdown, relevant to the current climate.

Bear In the Window

Every day I sit perched in my window looking out on the once busy street. Our house is across the road from a block of shops – a fish-and-chip shop, a bakery, an upholstery shop, a liquor store, an Indian restaurant, a physiotherapist, a pharmacy and a dairy. My window is in one of the two front bedrooms, Henry’s bedroom though he has long since left and he won’t be coming back, not ever.

The dairy and the pharmacy are the only two stores open these days. A few people frequent the pharmacy, but the dairy attracts more people. People line up, leaving a space between each of them. As one person leaves the store, another enters the store. Odd, really. Why don’t they all go into the store at the same time? Something is different, something has changed.

Bizarrely, Doris, Henry’s mum, had perched me on the window sill. For years, I’ve sat gathering dust, on the top bookshelf alongside Henry’s silver trophies. On one side, my shoulder nudged the most oversized cup, Junior National Champion for tennis. My other paw rests on his final cross-country cup, won in his last year at school – the remainder of the shelf over-flows with Henry’s sporting cups and medals. While I felt proud to sit amongst all this silver-ware, I’m not complaining being perched on the window sill. I quite like it here. I get to see so much more.

Children walking with one or other or both of their parents, pause as they pass, and point at me. Why aren’t these parents at work and the children at school, I wonder? Something has changed. Every morning, Doris dresses me differently. Yesterday, I wore a cowboy hat with a red bandanna across my face. The day before, she dressed me in a striped scarf and earmuffs. I’ve been a sailor, a clown (I didn’t like the red plastic nose, it pinched a bit), a policeman, and a fireman. One day, I wore a Superman cape, and on another day, Doris kitted me out in an All Black jersey with the silver fern and placed Henry’s rugby ball between my paws. That was my proudest day. I’ve not received this amount of attention since Henry was a little one.

I’ve become a bit shabby over the years, chunks of missing fur, my left eye is hanging on by a single thread affecting my focus, and by the end of the day, I droop. My hearing remains one-hundred per cent, and now with less street noise, sounds that before were muffled by the traffic, are strident. Now, few vehicles use the road. The rubbish truck still rumbles by on collection day. A police car passes by most days and the other day, an ambulance, it’s siren blaring, zoomed past. I hear the chirruping of bird song, the dissonant quarrelling of cats in the night, and the crunch of loose stones under peoples feet as they saunter by. Children’s excited exclamations punctuate the air as they spy me, perched in the window. Snatches of conversation between the people, lining up outside the dairy, waft in the still air.

‘How are you coping?’

‘Are you alone in your bubble?’

‘Just keeping busy is a challenge. I’ve tidied the garage, fixed the back-fence and given the garden a weed. I guess I ought to tackle the mess under the stairs next.’

‘Still, we’re doing better than other places in the world. Imagine living in Italy or Spain, and now America is taking a real blow.’

‘Hah, our economy will be shattered after this.’

‘Those poor people stuck on that cruise ship off Chile.’

And, ‘Stay safe, stay well,’ I hear this a lot.

Ugh, today Doris has dressed me as a fairy. A frilly, pink tutu, and a pair of plastic wings. She giggles as she props a wand under one paw. ‘There now, Harold. Disperse your magic,’ she says, giving me a final squeeze.

Little curly-haired Charlie and his mum come by every day. I can hear the boy’s shrilled voice before I see him. On the first few days, Charlie and his mum sung that song, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, loudly. He chatters a lot, does Charlie, always asking his mum something.

‘What do you think he’ll be dressed as today, Mum?’

‘Ah, we’ll have to wait and see.’

Daily, they stand behind the fence looking into the window, commenting on my attire. I raise a paw in a wave. I’m not sure I want Charlie and his mum, or anyone else for that matter, to see me today dressed as a fairy. How could Doris do this to me? So humiliating!

Charlie particularly loved the day I wore the black jersey with the silver fern.

‘Look, mum, he’s an All Black today. I want to be an All Black when I’m big.’ He air-kicked a ball right across the street.

I remember Henry wanting to be an All Black, too, when he was a little one. As a child, Henry loved kicking the football around the yard with his dad. Toby, the Labrador, would bound around excitedly, barking hoarsely. Scooping the ball into his arms, Henry ran the length of the backyard, dodging Toby and his father. Under the washing line, Henry dived to the ground and yelled, ‘Henry scores again!’ Watching from the sideline, I’d clap. His father would collapse on the ground beside him, laughing and tickling his son.

I bet Charlie won’t want to be a fairy when he’s big.

Toby, Henry and his dad Joe, often strolled to the beach. As a young one, Henry built sand-castles only to be trampled by Toby.

‘Oh, Toby, ‘ he’d yell, ‘You’ve smashed my castle,’ and the pair would roll around in the sand, Joe watching on, laughing.

With me tucked under his arm, the trio would trek to the far end of the beach and explore the rock-pools. One time, Henry, engrossed with the scurrying crabs, and star-fish sat me on a rock. His dad called, time to go home and I got left behind. Night crept on, I began to shiver. I’d never felt so alone. Those annoying crabs nibbled at my paws and poked their claws into my ears. I tried to bat them away but to no effect. A flash of light splashed across the rocks.

‘Here you are,’ Joe swooped me into his arms, giving my round belly a rub. ‘Henry’s missed you. He can’t go to sleep without you there.’ I felt so grateful to Joe that day. I dreaded the thought of becoming crab fodder.

When Henry was older, Joe taught the boy to surf. Toby rode the board with the boy. They’d spend hours riding the waves.

Charlie reminded me of Henry when he was little. Always talking, always wanting to know why.

‘Can we please go to the playground today, Mum,’ Charlie asks.

‘No, not today, dear.’

‘Why not?’

‘It’s the new rules, Charlie. No-one is allowed for fear the bug will spread.’

‘Well, that’s just stupid. Bugs live on the ground in the dirt and leaves or in the trees. And my teacher says bugs are good, that bugs don’t harm us, that we need bugs.’

‘This is a different bug, Charlie. This is a bug that makes people sick.’

‘Then can Sam come to play? Can you ask his mum.’

‘No, Sam’s not allowed to come over.’

‘Why? Is he sick?’

‘No, he’s not sick.’

‘Then how do you know he can’t come? Have you asked his mum?’

‘Everyone has to stay in their own bubble, stay in their own homes.’

‘I don’t get it, a house isn’t a bubble.’

‘Oh, Charlie. I’ve explained all this, and it won’t be forever.’

Endless questions, just like Henry, used to ask his mother. Like the time Doris went to the hospital.

‘Will the baby be a boy, mum? I hope it’s a boy and not a girl. Girls are boring. I want a brother, not a sister.’

Doris laughed and rubbed her round stomach. ‘We’ll have to wait and see, and if the baby is a girl, I’m sure you’ll love her as much as your dad and I will.’

‘C’mon, love, we’ve got to go,’ said Joe. ‘Now you be good for Alice, Henry.’ Alice, the girl from next door, spent the night with Henry and me.

On leaving Henry’s room, Joe, his beefy arm around his wife’s shoulder whispered in her ear, ‘It’ll be fine love, this time it’ll be fine. You’ve carried this one to full-term.’

Doris returned from the hospital the next day without either a sister or brother for Henry.

‘But where’s the baby?’ Henry demanded, clutching me. ‘Did you forget to bring it home?’

Doris, her face blotched with tears, shook her head. Stumbling from Henry’s room, she entered her own bedroom, lay on her bed and wept.

‘The baby died, Henry. Your little sister died.’ Joe held his son tight. I felt a bit squished between the two of them, and I felt the heaving of Joe’s chest.

‘But why did she die? Baby’s aren’t meant to die. Is it ‘cos I said I didn’t want a sister? I didn’t mean it.’

‘No, that’s not the reason.’ Joe straightened, swept his hand across his face, and holding his son at arm’s length, told him, ‘You have to be a brave boy, Henry. A very courageous boy. Your mum is really sad, and right now, she needs all the love you can give her. Can you do that?’ Henry nodded.

That night, with me in his arms, Henry crept into his parent’s room. He peered into the bassinet at the end of their bed and pulled back the blanket. No baby.

Returning to his own bed, Henry, his tears soaking my fur, fell asleep.

This house, once full of noise – Henry’s incessant questions, Joe’s barking laugh and Doris’s whistling – remained silent. The bassinet disappeared.

After the loss of his sister, Henry and his dad, Joe, a builder by trade, spent hours together. One summer, they built a tree hut in the old oak tree in the corner of the garden. A wooden ladder, attached to the broad trunk of the oak tree, led to the lower-platform. Joe attached battens for the walls of the hut, leaving an opening for the door and a shutter-window on the other side. Sheets of left-over tin from the new back fence formed the roof. A rope ladder dangled beside the door leading to a higher, narrower platform.

Over time, the tree-hut became a pirate ship, sailing rolling seas, and rocket-ship zooming through space. Then a secret lookout, for brave knights battling evil enemies. I, as a trusty companion, accompanied Henry on his many adventures.

Though, that was many years ago. The tree-hut, long forgotten, like myself, has become ravished by age and neglect. By the time Henry started High School, time and adventures spent in the tree hut, ceased altogether.

I hear a familiar clack-clack sound, the sound of Mrs Robson approaching. She walks past in the centre of the path at a steady pace, her white stick tapping the pavement. Although Mrs Robson never looks in my direction as she passes, I always wave to her.

Stooped Mr Simms, with his wispy candy-floss white hair, shuffles at a snail’s pace to the shops crosses the street and returns to his little shack on the hill.

I hear the distinctive clunking of a skateboard on the empty road. A lad barrels past, his knees slightly bent, twisting the board from side to side. An assortment of runners, some sprinting, others plodding, regularly pass, some wearing bright, tight tee’s and shorts, others in baggy track pants and loose tee’s. Mothers and fathers pushing push-chairs, often with a dog on a lead, trundle past. Whole family groups on bikes peddle past. An elderly couple, the man supporting his frail wife as she leans heavily on his arm, stumbles along. And if I twist side-ways, I can see the edge of the park. People walking dogs, kids kicking soccer balls, and young ones throwing frisbees. Every day in the late afternoon, a man with a golf club practices his swing, smashing those little, white balls in all directions. Why doesn’t he go to a golf club, I wonder?

Sitting in my window, I hear and see more birds. Balancing on the electricity wires, in pairs or in groups, spaced along the lines. The larger birds wobble precariously while the little ones hop about, chirping. Tui’s harmonise their distinctive tune from the gum tree in the corner of the yard. Seagulls swoop to the empty rubbish bins in front of the shops across the street, only to slink away disappointed moments later for there are no food scraps to be had. Pickings are slim on the pavement, too.

Yes, something is different, something has changed.

Sitting here in my window is kinda like watching a never-ending movie. Every day, I see the same folk. But on some days, I see someone or something different. Two days ago, a human-sized pink bunny hopped by, carrying a basket full of brightly coloured foiled eggs. The rabbit paused in front of my window, gave me a wink and, taking an egg from her basket, popped it in the letter-box. Doris was thrilled when she found it later in the day. She stood there holding the egg and scratching her head looking up and down the street. If she’d asked me, I could have told her about the bunny.

Doris. Alone now. Alone except for me.

Toby died first. Over time, the bounce in the old dog, diminished. He slept stretched out in the sun on the front porch for most of the day. When someone passed by the gate, he seldom raised his weary head for a hoarse growl. He’d stir wearily when he heard Henry fill his bowl with dog biscuits and drag his old body to the kitchen. Then one day, he didn’t move. Toby died peacefully in his sleep.

The family held a small funeral for the aged canine. Although Henry no longer spent much time with me, I attended. The ceremony was a sombre occasion. Henry spoke a few words about how Toby had been a faithful companion and Doris, in a weedy voice, sang a short hymn, ‘Morning has broken’. I wiped a lone tear from Henry’s cheek with my paw.

I hear Doris now in the kitchen, whistling that same hymn. In my opinion, Doris is a much better whistler than a singer. She can imitate the whistle of the Tui bird, perfectly. Usually, she whistles cheerful tunes, upbeat and joyful melodies.

The weather turned sour today. Sporadic rain and a nasty wind have kept most folk indoors, including Charlie and his mum. Admittedly, I didn’t want him to see me in this fairy get-up, but I missed him all the same. No runners or cyclists have passed by. No Mrs Robson, either. Frail old Mr Simms toddles by most days, but not today. The person who smashes golf balls around the park hasn’t appeared today, either. It’s been a long, dreary day sat hunched and shivering in this ridiculous fairy costume, perched in the corner of my window.

Henry completed his building apprenticeship, under the instruction of his father. The logo on Joe’s truck had always been ‘Hunt and Son, Builders’. From building houses to extensions to kitchen or bathroom renovations, Joe, an established and respected builder in the small community, never lacked for work. Joe and Henry and the two older, unskilled labourers Joe employed, were always in demand. Henry, an affable lad, learnt quickly and the father-son bond, strengthened. Strengthened until Henry, at twenty-two years of age, fractured the relationship. It happened one Sunday over lunch.

Joe bit into the crunchy Yorkshire pudding and chewed slowly as he looked at his son sitting opposite. ‘What did you say, lad? Did I hear you right? You’re leaving?’

‘I’ve learnt all I can with you, dad. On a big construction site, I’d learn more, I’d learn different skills. My mate Stu works for one of the big firms and says that his bosses are crying out for qualified builders.’

‘Hah, I’m sure they are. That’s how those money-hungry, city types operate, luring green-horns like yourself. They promise high pay and wonderful prospects, but you’d be nothing more than a hammer-monkey.’

‘Yeah, maybe for starters but… .’

‘No buts. And how many of those outfits have gone bust in recent times?’ Joe, waggling his fork in Henry’s direction, continued. ‘Ask yourself why. I’ll tell you why: it’s ‘cos they win the contracts with slim profit margins and tight time constraints. To save money, they use cheap materials and shoddy work practices. They ignore safety codes, putting the workers at risk and when they go bust, it’s the workers who are screwed, not the bosses.’

‘They’re not all like that. Stu says his firm is solid.’

‘Yeah, right, ‘till something goes wrong, like losing bonuses for not completing by the deadline.’

‘It’s not just the job. Clara’s also moving to the city to a new job. We plan to move in together.’

‘Oh, this gets better and better. Clara, the little flossy you’ve barely known for five minutes click’s her fingers, and off you trot. You’re not thinking straight, lad. You’re not thinking with your head, you’re thinking with your dick!’ Joe glared at his son.

‘Enough. I’ll not have that sort of talk at my table,’ Doris thumped the table.

‘Then you talk some sense into the boy,’ Joe retorted, pushing his chair back.

Standing, leaning over the table, Joe continued. ‘Think about what you’re throwing away. Think about what it says on the truck: Hunt and Son. Does that mean nothing to you? If you carry out this haired-brained scheme, then be assured there’ll be no ‘son,’ son.’

The dessert, lemon meringue pie was left untouched.

Doris did talk to Henry. Henry remained adamant in his decision.

Doris talked to Joe. She pleaded with Joe.

‘Give him six months, a year even. Let him try city life. Please, Joe, don’t close the door on him. He’s your son.’

Joe remained adamant in his resolve.

At the end of the month, Henry left for the city. Joe painted a black cross through the word son on the truck.

Periodically, over the following months, Henry phoned his mother. When he and Clara became engaged, Doris invited them both to a Sunday lunch. Joe agreed to be present.

Though he’d never admit it, Joe missed having his son by his side.

Sunday arrived. Doris cooked a roast lamb with all the trimmings: mint sauce, crunchy Yorkshire pudding and smooth gravy with lemon meringue pie for dessert.

‘I have to pop out,’ Joe, standing in the kitchen door muttered just before twelve.

‘Joe, you promised.’

‘There’s something I need to do. Don’t hold lunch for me.’

‘Please, Joe, don’t do this. Stay, talk to your son.’

Joe didn’t return for his lunch.

‘Never mind, mum. At least you tried,’ Henry hugged his mother and left with Clara.

Doris was not to know that, that would be the last time she saw her son.

‘Morning, Harold. How did you sleep?’ Doris bustles into Henry’s room and scoops me from my ledge.

‘Harrumph,’ I grunt in reply.

With thoughts of Henry and Joe’s ruptured relationship swirling in my head, I’ve had a night of disturbed sleep. I nearly toppled from my perch in the eerily quiet, early morning.

‘You look a tad weary, Harold. Bad sleep? Never mind, you and I, Howard, have been through worse than this, haven’t we?’ she smiles.

I can’t tell Doris I’ve been thinking about Joe and Henry’s rift, her heart would be broken all over again.

‘The current situation is not that bad and won’t continue forever,’ she jabs a finger into my rotund belly. ‘It is bear-able, get it, Howard, bear-able?’ and chuckles.

I glare at her with my seeing eye.

‘Oh, don’t be so stuffy, Howard. In times like these, we need some humour.’

‘Now, let’s get these silly wings off you. That’ll cheer you up. Today, you are going to be the great fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.’

On my head, she places a hat with ear-muffs and ties it under my chin. The hat is fur-lined and cosy. Lovely, as today looks like it will be another chilly one.

‘Sherlock always carried a magnifying glass with him as he hunted for clues,’ she says tucking this instrument under my right paw. ‘Be sure to look out for Mr Simms. I haven’t seen him in a few days, and I’m concerned,’ Doris returns me to my perch and whistling, leaves the room.

Holding the glass to my best eye, I peer towards the shops across the road. A notice has appeared on the door of the bakery: ‘We re-open on the 28th April for contactless transactions.’ A phone number is scrawled below and a menu. The fish and chip takeaway next door has a similar notice.

What does contactless mean? Contactless, self-isolate, social distancing, bubble-buddy’s, expressions I’ve never encountered before, before this baffling what-ever-is-happening-situation, happened. I’m confused and a little worried, but, hey, I’m a sleuth, right? I should be able to figure it out.

I hope Charlie comes today. I missed seeing him yesterday and Mr Simms if only to put Doris’s mind at rest.

‘Who is he today, mum?’ Ah, there’s Charlie now. He and his mum are peering up at my window.

‘Sherlock Holmes, a fictional detective from way before your time, or mine. See his magnifying glass? He always carried a magnifying glass when investigating crime scenes.’

‘What does he use that for?’

‘For finding clues. ‘Elementary, my dear Watson,’ ’Charlie’s mum laughed.

‘Hah?’

Doris approaches the fence. ‘Good morning, Rose, morning Charlie. I see you like Howard’s attire today.’

‘You bet. Mum says he’s a detective today. I love it that he’s something different every day.’

Doris laughed.

‘It’s fun to see what he’ll be wearing and who he is. Kinda like a surprise.’

‘What has been your favourite, Charlie?’

‘Definitely, the All Black, He looked really cool. I want to be an All Black one day.’

‘And I’m sure you could be,’ Doris smiled.

‘Howard’s our favourite bear, isn’t he Charlie?’ Rose says.

Charlie nodded. ‘Oh, yes. He looks like my bear Hugo. His fur is the same colour, and they both have the same smile.’

‘Is your Hugo in a window or, some other place? I’ve seen some on letter-boxes, in trees, hanging from the verandah, all sorts of places.’

Charlie scuffed the ground with his shoe, shrugged his shoulders. ‘Nah, I don’t have Hugo any more.’

‘Oh? Why not?’

‘I left him at the top of the slide at the playground the last time I stayed with dad.’

‘And he was no longer there when you went back for him?’

‘Nah, we didn’t go back. My dad wouldn’t go back. Said he was just a silly bear and that I should be more careful,’ Charlie sniffled.

‘We’ll get another one after all this is over, Charlie. I promise,’ his mother said.

Charlie hung his head. ‘It won’t be Hugo, though, will it.’

‘How about you and your mum come back tomorrow. I’ll have a surprise for you,’ Doris winked at Rose. Charlie nods, and a wide grin spread across his face.

He sure is a cute kid, that Charlie.

This dreary day has dragged on. Just like yesterday, there have been fewer runners and cyclists and no Mr Simms. Although using my glass, I’ve observed action at the bakery and takeaway joint. The owners come and go, unload cartons from their vehicles and busy themselves inside their shops. From the bakery, delicious smells waft in the air.

In the past, both Henry and Joe frequented the bakery. Henry, in particular, loved the pies while Joe was more of a cream-bun guy. That day when the two policemen came to the front door, walked into the house and sat at the table in the kitchen through the wall from me, I knew. Sitting on my shelf with Henry’s trophies, the policeman’s subdued voice through the wall, then Doris’ loud shrieking and Joe’s strangled gasps, I knew.

A freak accident, they called it.

‘It was no damn freak accident,’ Joe roared. ‘Bloody carelessness. Those arseholes and their shoddy practices are what killed our son.’ Later, sitting on Henry’s bed, with Doris at his side, he sobbed into his hands.

‘If only I’d stayed that Sunday and talked to the boy, this would never have happened. I dearly wish you’d insisted that I stay that day, Doris.’

Doris often came into Henry’s room, polished his numerous trophies until they gleamed and then, she’d cradle me in her arms, rock back and forward on the bed and weep.

Over the following months, Joe visibly shrunk. His shoulders hunched over, his feet shuffled, his hands shook, his fingers became twisted and gnarled. But saddest of all was the blank, agonised gaze in his eyes.

When Doris went shopping, Joe came into Henry’s room. He’d shake his head, and groan over and over, ‘I’m sorry, son. I let you down.’

One day, he stopped building altogether.

‘What’s the point,’ he said to Doris. ‘What’s the point of anything, any more?’

Joe died less than a year after his son.

A heart attack, the doctors said.

A broken heart, Doris said.

I turn my head at the sound of the door opening. ‘I see there’s a bit of activity over at the shops, Howard,’ Doris says.

‘How’s the sleuthing going, Howard or should I call you Sherlock?’ Doris titters. ‘No sign of Mr Simms, I gather.’ I shake my head.

‘Hmm, I’m worried. I think I’ll go and check on the old guy.’

Doris leaves, and a moment later, I hear the click of the gate. She’s gone a long time: an ambulance, sirens blaring dashes up the street.

As the skies grow darker and night approaches, Doris returns. She plucks me from my window perch and proceeds to pat my fur. ‘Poor old chap was sprawled out on the kitchen floor, barely conscious. He didn’t look too good. I rang for the ambulance, and the medics assured me he’ll be fine. If only I’d gone yesterday.’

I nod, thankful that Doris followed her intuition. Doris buries her head in my fur and sniffs loudly.

‘Oh, you do pong a bit, Howard.’

Charming!

‘Never mind, I’ll give you a make-over in the morning before Charlie, and his mum come,’ she says before returning me to my perch. ‘Sleep well, Howard. Tomorrows a big day.’

Give me a make-over? A big day? Forever talking in riddles, is Doris. I tell you, the woman is losing it.

Knowing Mr Simms would be okay thanks to Doris, I’ve had a restful sleep. I feel rejuvenated. I shiver at the thought of Doris not going to the old guy’s place and finding him when she did, of Mr Simms lying there for days, alone. She’s a kind, thoughtful woman, is Doris.

And seeing Charlie yesterday has gladdened my heart.

Doris bustles into the bedroom and swoops me from my ledge. Hurriedly, she undresses me, and I’m excited to see who I’ll be today. But rather than dress me, she scurries out to the laundry, and before I can protest, she’s thrown me into the washing machine with a bunch of towels.

Being drenched in lukewarm water, my eyes irritated by washing powder and furiously spun around and around, is a most unpleasant experience. But the indignity of being pegged upside down on the washing-line? ‘Un-bear-able, get it, Doris?’ I mutter, she doesn’t get it. Whistling, she turns from the line and goes in-doors.

Fortunately, there is a strong wind, and I dry quickly.

I sigh with relief when Doris releases the pegs from my paws. She cuddles me close, and whispers, ‘There that wasn’t so bad, was it? As good as new or nearly.’

Next, she brushes my fur firmly, pinches my ears, straightening them and squeezes my nose. ‘Now for a bit of eye surgery.’

Ah, I don’t like the sound of that!

The needle is a bit prickly, but Doris is very gentle. When she finishes, I blink, and yes, I do believe my sight in my weak eye has improved. Doris dresses me. Black shirt with a silver fern, snug shorts and the rugby ball between my paws. Doris props me against the milk jug, on the table.

I hear the latch on the front gate, the crunch-crunch of footsteps on the metal pathway, followed by a soft knock on the door.

‘Doris?’

‘Rose, Charlie,’ Doris throws open the door. ‘As promised, I have a surprise for you, Charlie.’

Doris scoops me off the table. ‘There’s someone here I want you to meet. Charlie, meet Howard. Howard, say hello to Charlie.’

Charlie holds me, pats my fur and looks at me closely. ‘He is just like Hugo, see, mum, his smile, and even his paws are the same.’

‘Howard,’ Doris says, ‘How would you like a new home, and a new boy to cuddle?’

Like a pair of saucers, Charlie’s eyes widen and glisten, ‘You mean me? You’re giving me Howard?’

Doris smiles, ‘Yes, you two are a perfect match.’

‘But who does Howard really belong to and won’t they mind?’ Charlie holds me tight.

‘Howard belonged to a young lad, who, like you constantly asked questions. I know he’d want you to have Howard and that you’ll love Howard just as much as he did.’

‘Are you sure, Doris?’ Rose asks.

‘I’m sure.’

Dance of the Dawn

Dance of the Dawn.

Oh, Dawn, how you enlighten!

As Father Night fades to inky shades

Of plum-purple and oily-blues,

You don your colours of subtle hues.

Arousing my senses, exciting my heart,

Tickling my soul, unveiling your art.

Your benevolent smile, shimmery bright,

Your fingers of light farewell the night.

Oh, Dawn, how you surprise!

As you wake from your slumber,

Your feathery eyelids flitter-flutter,

Cleansing your lenses, clearing the clutter.

You fasten your dancing shoes

And pirouette in your frilly tutu,

Twirling and swirling with simple grace

Cocooning all in a warm embrace.

Oh, Dawn, how you inspire!

As you stride with calm confidence.

Gifting freedom and fortitude,

Desires and hopes to be renewed.

‘Do not squander or leave to fate.

Take charge, make it happen,’ you dictate.

‘Cherish loved ones, nurture romance.’

As into the day, you wildly dance.

On a Cloud

(Placed second in Hibiscus Coast writers scriptwriting competition.)

On A Cloud explores the impact on family members following an unexpected death. Raw emotions, anger and regrets are laid bare. The story confronts the questions: do any of us who have been loved unreservedly, as only a mother can love, ever die.

Actors:

Laura, a single mother of two teenage boys, one now deceased.

Joseph, Laura’s youngest son, twelve years old. The son who does everything right.

Aaron, Laura’s deceased son, a sixteen-year-old school drop-out. The son who did everything wrong.

Gretta Winstable, funeral celebrant, a kindly, older woman not known by the family.

Red-haired youth – an associate of Aaron.

Extras: Four pall-bearers and Mr Price, the school principal.

(A one-act, two-scene play, best suited to a proscenium theatre)

Scene 1

Stage set-up: A kitchen. A kitchen table placed in the acting area. Joseph and Laura sit at right-angles to each other, facing the audience. A large clock hangs on the wall behind them. Both mother and son are dressed in funeral attire. Above the table and slightly to the side, a fluffy cloud hovers. Aaron lies stretched out on the cloud, his head resting in his cupped hand.

Laura: (reaches across the corner of the table and holds her son’s hand) Joseph, Aaron’s death was not your fault. You mustn’t blame yourself for what happened that day at the beach. Aaron certainly wouldn’t want that.

Joseph: (jerks his hand away from his mothers’ clasp) What would Aaron want, mum? Would he want to be dead because of me?

Laura: (sighing heavily) Aaron was a strong swimmer but the surf on that day…

Joseph: Yeah, the surf was strong that day and, Aaron told me not to go in, that there was a powerful rip, but I didn’t listen. If I had, he wouldn’t be dead.

Aaron: (leaning over the side of the cloud) You’re right, little bro, I don’t want to be dead, I’m not ready for death, it’s not my time. For once, why couldn’t you listen to me?

Joseph: (rubbing his ear) Aargh!

Laura: What’s wrong with your ear? Let me take a look.

Laura stands, moves to Joseph’s side and attempts to look in Joseph’s ear. Joseph clamps his palm over his ear.

Joseph: It’s nothing, just a weird whooshing sound.

Aaron: A weird whooshing, hah? You get a weird whooshing in your ear while I get a forever weird stuck on this stupid fluffy cloud. Totally bored out of my brain, nothing to do, no-one to speak to, only you.

Joseph: (clamps his hands over both ears) Aargh.

Laura: Are both your ear’s troubling you? Maybe you have an infection.

Joseph: It feels like water swishing around, like when I got tossed over and over before Aaron pulled me from the surf.

Aaron: Yeah, you were tossed over and over. I struggled to get a hold of you, kept going under myself. When I finally did get a grip, you thrashed out with your legs, kicking like a spooked horse. At one point, I thought about letting you go, letting you drown and saving myself.

Laura: (pushing back her chair, stands) I think there is a bottle of ear drops in the bathroom cabinet.

Laura leaves the stage, off-left.

Joseph: Why didn’t you? Why didn’t you let me go and save yourself?

Aaron: Hah, let the number one son drown? That was never an option, and you know it.

Joseph: I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. I was just so mad at you. You promised mum you’d finished with drugs, that you’d stop hanging out with all those losers and that you’d go back to school. When I saw you with the red-haired guy behind the dairy, I knew you’d lied to mum. You shouted at that guy that if he didn’t deliver on time, he’d get the bash.

Aaron: Yeah, and I tried to explain, but you didn’t want to know.

Joseph: Right, that it wasn’t what it looked like, it was something else. Only you couldn’t tell me what the something else was, could you?

Aaron: That’s right, I couldn’t.

Joseph: You do remember it’s mum’s birthday tomorrow, don’t you? What sort of a day do you think she’s going to have?

Laura: (returning with the ear drops.) Hold still.

Laura: (squeezing drops of the liquid into each ear.) Better?

Joseph: (rubbing his ears) Hmm, yes, I think so.

Laura: (remaining standing, glances at the wall clock.) It’s time, Joseph. It’s time to farewell Aaron. The taxi is due at any moment.

Laura gathers her handbag from the table and cups a hand under her son’s elbow. Joseph doesn’t move.

Joseph: (sniffling) Mum, I can’t do this.

Laura: (slumps back into her chair, rubs her son’s arm.) I know this is the most challenging situation you’ve ever had to face, but…

Joseph: It’s more than challenging, mum, it’s impossible. It’s impossible to say goodbye, goodbye to my brother, goodbye forever …

Laura: (looking earnestly at her son) Aaron needs you there, I need you there. Do this for both of us.

Aaron: (in an angry whisper) Yeah, who’s being selfish now? Accusing me of being selfish, of never thinking of anyone but myself, of hurting mum over and over. The wasted druggie, you called me.

Joseph: (burying his head in his hands) Aargh, stop!

Aaron: Man-up! Mum’s only got you now. You’re no longer the little golden kid, the can-do-no-wrong, kid. Mum needs you, and if you love her half as much as she loves you, you’ll get your arse out of that chair, and …

Joseph: (pushing back his chair and standing up) Okay, let’s go.

Scene 2

Stage set-up: A chapel at a funeral home. Two large vases of flowers sit at the front corners of the stage. At the back of the stage, a stain-glass window with light coming in. Sombre, piped music plays. A coffin is placed in the acting area, centre front. Above the coffin is the fluffy white cloud. Aaron is stretched-out on the cloud, head resting in his cupped hand. On the left side is a podium.

Twelve seats, six on each side and three in each row are arranged at an angle, in the downstage area. The front row of seats is empty. In the second row on the left side, sits a red-head youth, and on the right side sits bald-headed Mr Price, the school principal. From the back of the hall, Laura and Joseph enter. As Laura and Joseph pass, Mr Price turns, grimaces, and nods at Joseph.

Laura hastens her pace as she approaches the coffin. Reaching the raised coffin, she awkwardly spreads her arms, and her upper body over the polished wooden top, and rests her head. Shards of soft light, shine through the lead-light window beyond the coffin. The music ceases.

The celebrant enters from a side door, (off right) takes her place at the podium. Joseph guides his mother to the front row (their backs face the audience)

Gretta Winstable : (clears her throat, looks at the small gathering) My name is Gretta Winstable. We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Aaron, and while I didn’t have the honour to know…

Aaron: (perched on the cloud, leans over) Nice day, isn’t it? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, all is well with the world, well nearly.

Joseph: How can you be so flippant at your own funeral?

Laura: (turning sideways)Joseph? Did you say something?

Aaron: Flippant? You think it’s easy for me to be here, huh? For starters, the turn-out is pitiful, and that celebrant woman doesn’t know shite about me. Goes to show, my life didn’t amount to much, eh?

Joseph rests his head on his mother’s shoulder, closing his eyes. Laura’s shoulders heave.

Gretta Winstable: … the day Aaron pulled his younger brother from the surf, he made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life.

Gretta Winstable: (spreads her arms) Would anyone care to share their thoughts about Aaron?

Joseph springs to his feet and steps towards the podium. He faces the audience.

Joseph: I want to speak about who my brother really was.

Aaron: Way to go, buddy. Be sure to mention how handsome I am/was, and my bravery, and …

Joseph: I got it, pipe down, I need to concentrate.

Aaron: Just one other thing, tell mum that although I didn’t always show it, I did love her, that I still do,

Joseph: My brother Aaron may not have been a model son, he may not have always made the best choices…

Aaron: Steady on, mate. That’s a bit harsh.

Joseph: Sssh. (pauses) But he had a wicked sense of humour. Aaron saw the funny side, even in the direst situation. I know for sure that right now he’ll be stretched-out on some fluffy cloud up above cracking smart-arse jokes about his own send-off, his own funeral.

Red-haired guy: (laughs) Too right!

Joseph: Aaron was intelligent, way smarter than what he portrayed. Aaron could figure things out, see alternative solutions and fix a problem. Best of all, Aaron was the kindest person I’ve known. He’d do anything for anybody even if it was detrimental to himself. (pauses) He and I argued the day he died. If I’d listened to him that day, he’d not have died saving me. (pauses, looks directly at his mum.) Mum, although he didn’t always show it, Aaron truly loved you. He always will.

Aaron: Wow! Pretty cool words, bro. Thank you.

Joseph returns to his seat. Sombre music plays. Four pall-bearer emerge from the back of the chapel, (off left) take their positions beside the coffin and carry the casket down the aisle. Joseph and Laura, arms linked, follow behind. The red-haired guy stands, slips between the seats and presses a small, shiny red box into Laura’s hand.

Red-haired guy: It’s from your son, Mrs Hunt. It’s from Aaron.

Josephglances over his shoulder towards the cloud, looking puzzled.

Aaron: Yep, that’s right, bro. A present for mum. I had intended giving it to her myself, but, the script got rewritten.

Laura opens the box and takes out a silver bracelet.

Aaron: Don’t worry, little brother.I’ll always be here for you, still whispering in your ear.

Laura holds the bracelet up to the light and reads the inscription.

Laura: To the best Mum ever, love never dies, Aaron.

End of the Road

Today’s post is a story triggered by a recent short trip I took in my camper van.

End of the Road

I had driven for miles along a gravel road to the remote campsite. Parked up and plugged into the power, I sat in my camper-van reading, enjoying the quiet. My dog snoozed on her blanket after our leisurely walk through farm paddocks to the beach, where she’d romped in crazy circles chasing the few sea birds.

As the skies began to turn grey, a large camper slowed then stopped on the gravel road. A gaunt, grey-haired man climbed out of the van, wandered through the gate, looked around and shook his head. He yelled something over his shoulder to a woman exiting the vehicle on the passenger side. She joined him. I sighed as I closed my book and pulled on my shoes. My solitude had ended.

‘Hiya,’ I waved to them.

The man turned toward me. ‘What sort of a Mickey-Mouse place is this? No signs, no directions, in the middle of nowhere,’ he threw his arms in the air. ‘How do you even book in?’

‘There is a place with a sign on the gate back down the road. Drive up the driveway and pay the woman at the house,’ I offered.

‘I don’t fancy driving this huge bus up some narrow driveway,’ the woman chipped in.

‘There are phone numbers on the sign you could try,’ indicating the large sign at the front. ‘But they didn’t work for me, so I went to that house.’

‘We didn’t plan to come here. We were headed for Wellsford. Miles of driving on gravel, windy roads out of our way. Bloody GPS.’

‘You’ll find it’s worth your while, it’s so peaceful. You can walk to the beach along a farm track, and there’s cute llama’s through the fence there, and the facilities are top-notch.’

‘Ain’t interested in walking to some beach or petting some stupid animals with ridiculously long necks. Been travelling for two weeks and we just want to get home, not be stuck in some god-forsaken place at the end of the road.’

I shrugged. ‘It is lovely here,’ I feebly offered again.

‘How do you get into this place? Does it even have power sites?’

‘Of course, there is power, see those white poles? Come through the gate, round the cabins and down to the flat.’ turning away, I returned to my camper.

The couple got in their van, drove in and parked on the flat. Snuggled under my blanket, I returned to my book. My concentration was lost. Fancy arriving at an idyllic place like this, owning a top-of-the-range vehicle like theirs and being so grumpy, so unappreciative, my inner dialogue mumbled.

Later that evening, I encountered the woman in the kitchen. With her back to me, she was busily washing a stack of dishes, slamming them onto the bench with force. I asked, ‘So, where have you driven from today?’

‘Manganui,’ she replied without turning.

‘A long drive for you both.’

‘Yep, and we had no intention of ending up here in the middle of bloody nowhere. We just want to get home.’

‘And where’s home?’

‘Wellington.’

‘Been to Manganui before?’

She nodded, slamming another dish to the pile.

‘Manganui’s a beautiful spot.’

‘Yep. We got married there. That’s why we went, filling my husbands bucket-list before it’s too late.’

Wishing I’d never started this conversation, I tried another tack. ‘Your van looks pretty impressive, especially compared to my humble, old thing.’

‘Yep, cost a fortune. Not my idea, not my idea at all,’ the woman shook her head. ‘That’s the reason why I’m still working.’

‘Still, it must be really comfortable, and …’

‘Soon as he pops his clogs, I’ll be down-sizing, to something more suitable.’

Her husband entered the room, wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown. With a towel draped over his arm, he clasped a sponge bag. ‘You not done yet?’ he barked at his wife.

Ah, my chance to leave, so why didn’t I?

The wife pulled the plug in the sink, turned and glared at her husband.

‘I’m taking a shower. I presume there are showers here?’ the man nodded in my direction.

‘Sure, through there,’ I pointed.

The woman began to dry the dishes. ‘Don’t mind him,‘ she said, facing me now. ‘It’s the morphine. He’s pretty morose by the end of the day.’

‘Oh,’ I stammered. ‘Must be tough for you both.’

‘Not exactly what I signed up for, but what can you do?’ her face softened.

‘You fancy a cup of tea or coffee?’ I asked. Why did I ask that? Why didn’t I leave?

‘Neither. A glass of wine is what I fancy. I’ve got a bottle of red in the van. You’ll join me, right?’ a statement, not a question. She threw down the tea-towel and bustled out of the kitchen.

Finding wine glasses in the cupboard, I placed them on the table.

‘I’m Kathy,’ I said when the woman returned, offering my hand.

‘Sybil and old grumpy-boots is Dennis.’ Sybil didn’t shake my hand. She poured the wine, and we sat in the plastic chairs.

Neither of us spoke. I sipped my wine.

‘What line of work are you in, Sybil?’

‘I do the books for a large international company, mostly working from home.’

‘Oh, that’s handy for you. I work part-time…’

‘Yeah,’ she snorted. ‘No escape from my invalid husband, always doing his bidding. Get this, do that, help me with whatever.’ She gulped her wine.

‘Has he been ill long?’

Dennis, returning from his shower, stood by Sybil’s chair. ‘How long do you plan to be sat here supping that poison?’

Sybil ignored him and refilled her glass.

‘Do you want to join us?’ Sybil glared at me. Dennis mumbled inaudibly and left the room.

Sybil laughed. ‘Dennis doesn’t approve. Here, have another.’ She poured wine into my glass.

‘Let me tell you about my dear sanctimonious, saintly husband.’ Sybil spat, gulping more wine. ‘Six months ago, he begged me to forgive him for running off with his tart and implored me to let him back into my life. Hah, he apologised for hurting me. I weren’t hurt, I was humiliated.’

Like a rapidly flowing river, Sybil’s words flowed without pause, spluttering over the jagged rocks of infidelity throughout their lengthy marriage. The waters bumped against the moss-covered banks of their pretentious, moneyed life – grand houses, luxury cruises, expensive education for their progeny, membership to exclusive clubs. The river flowed, disgorging itself in the vast sea.

‘And here we are, at the end of the road. We’re practically penniless and completely barren of any emotion for each other.’ Sybil slunk low in her chair, her face rigid as if carved in stone.

‘How long had he been with this other woman?’

‘Five years, and he returned to me, a pauper.’

‘You mentioned morphine earlier. I’m assuming you administer the morphine to manage the pain?’

‘Yep.’

From what you say, I glean that you’re having a pretty shitty time, but you’re in control. Eventually, your husband will die, it’s the end of the road for him, right?’

‘Yep.’

‘But you’re in control of the morphine?’

Sybil looked me in the eye. Her face relaxed into an almost smile.

‘Are you suggesting I accidentally …’

Throwing my arms wide, I replied, ‘I’m not suggesting anything.’

I supped the rest of my wine. ‘Goodnight’ I said, ‘And good luck.’ I left the room. It had begun to rain.

Heavy rain persisted throughout the night, my sleep was fitful. Waking late, I prepared my van to leave.

As I drove slowly across the wet, soggy grass, the door of the big camper opened. Sybil, in a flimsy night-dress, stumbled down the steps of her camper. Taking a few wobbly steps, she frantically waved her arms in my direction.

I drove away.

Ducks Revolt.

Today’s post is in recognition of all ducks out there, as it is duck shooting season.

Duck’s Revolt.
The dark times have returned. Camouflaged maimai’s, dotted around waterways are being erected. Soon, within these secluded, hidden shelters, humans with guns will huddle, their faithful sleek retriever dogs by their side, waiting, watching, gleefully anticipating.
Our feathers will ruffle, our webbed feet will shudder on witnessing an abundance of decoy ducks floating on our beloved wetlands, lakes and rivers.
The air will resound with horrendous honking, duck-mimicking noise, in an attempt to lure naive ducks into flying overhead. Upon being shot, ducks plummet gracelessly, to be retrieved by slobbering hounds and bagged by gormless humans. The dark times have returned.
These gun-wielding assassins dare to call duck shooting a sport. How can the annual decimation of a species unable to fight back, be considered sporting? And the fact that duck shooting season is sanctioned by the law’s of the nation is blatant hypocrisy.
In a desperate quest for self-preservation, some of us, annually flock to public gardens and parks and submit to voluntary lock-down. While taking refuge in suburban locations, we are grateful to the kind souls, who feed us human foods such as bread or stale crackers or rotting fruits. These morsels provide us with much-needed nourishment in these bleak times. Still, human food is not conducive to our bodily systems and ultimately cause adverse ailments.
Those unable to take the flight will remain exposed to the dangers, fearful for their lives. Only essential trips for the gathering of necessities is advised. As Walter Cronkite said, ‘The perils of duck hunting are great – especially for the ducks.’
As in past years, our return to our homelands, following the duck shooting season will be a time of great sadness. We will discover who has become a lame duck or not survived the slaughter. Who has become an orphan or who has lost a beloved grandparent? A time of grief and mourning for those who have met their untimely and unwarranted death will cast a dark shadow over our holy habitats.
Revolution is afoot. The status quo is about to be disrupted, laws will be rewritten and history made. The dark times will end forever.
Taking charge of their own destiny, ducks are fighting back.
I, Dario Duck, a humble middle-aged Mallard duck have devised an ingenious plan, a cunning campaign to end the fear, the suffering and the grief. The annual massacre of ducks as we know it will be no more.
Honking throughout the land has spread the call. As wings furiously flap, the great migration of multitudinous proportions, pure poultry in motion, has begun. Ducks of all breeds from the far north to the far south, from the east and west of the country, are winging their way to the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay, Wellington.
We do not subscribe to violence or anarchy, but rather, our protest will take the form of passive resistance. On the steps of that sacred place, the entrance to The Beehive, the place where all laws of this great country are made, we will flock. The sounds of the city will be drowned by our incessant raucous quackophony. The steps of parliament house will become splattered with our excretions, unavoidable to those attempting to enter this iconic building.
We anticipate attempts to remove us will ensue due to the inconvenience of our occupation. Contingency plans for that eventuality are in place. Our troops will simply flutter skywards and reposition on the ledges the ten-story high building provides until the danger passes. Then down we’ll swoop once again to occupy those steps.
We shall remain resolute in our revolt, clustered on those hallowed steps for as ever long as it takes to be heard. By fear means or fowl, we will be noticed, we will be heard. The archaic, outdated practice of shooting ducks, will be outlawed, confined to the history books, to the past forever.
The diabolical duck-a-thon, the stupendous sit-in, the feathered folly, call it what you may, has begun. Ducks from every corner of this country, have converged to the steps of the Beehive. Hunkered together in our hundreds, honking in unison, our mass occupation has begun.
At the break of day, politicians and their minions, attempt to enter the building. Cautiously, they duck and dive through the mass of feathered, raucous fowl, avoiding the gooey grey-white excrement splattered on the steps. In frustrated furry, some of the two-legs flap their bulky briefcases or wave their arms fitfully trying to swoosh us away. In our deduckation to the cause, we sit, ducks in a row (actually, several rows) in solidarity, each and every duck remaining stalwart. Donny Duck from Dunedin is the self-appointed conducktor to our honking symphony.
Throughout the morning, cars driving past, slow and gaze with puzzlement. Many honked their horns in support. At mid-day, a camera crew and reporter visit the site. A class of chattering children from a nearby school, visit. Squatting or standing, with sketch pads in their hands, they draw this incredible sight.
Late in the afternoon, a straggly group of older two-legs gather in front of the steps holding placards and chant, over and over ‘Ducks have rights, stop the slaughter!’
A guy with a megaphone strides to the front of the group and begins a new chant.
‘What do we want?’
‘An end to duck shooting.’ his comrades reply.
‘Why do we want it?’ megaphone guy continues.
‘Ducks deserve to live.’
‘How will we get it?’
‘Change the law.’
Gleefully, we flap our wings, waddle around, preen our plumage and honk in jubilation.
The news crew returns, cameras flash, and the chanting continues, long into the night.
At the quack of dawn, we’re awoken by a low rumbling sound on the street as two large red trucks cruise towards us. The trucks halt, men jump from the vehicles and begin unravelling hoses. The red-jacketed men position themselves along the hefty round tubes pointed in our direction – water blasts from the hoses. Hah, haven’t they heard that expression water off ducks back? Our wings flap and flutter, we hover above those shiny red vehicles, those red-coated men and we perform our morning ablutions. Soon, the trucks and the men are adorned with glistening white-grey splatters, and again, we occupy the now clean steps – the disgruntled red-brigade wind up their hoses and leave. Our placard-carrying comrades return in higher number, along with various news crews.
Throughout the morning, aroma’s from Bellamy’s kitchen from inside the Beehive, drift on the air, cruelly taunting our nostrils. Thoughts of politicians dining on Peking Duck, crispy duck, duck orange, duck pate, duck satay or spicy duck with apple sauce dampen the spirits of some amongst us. In an attempt to distract these sensitive souls from their dark thoughts, Davy Duck, our very own comedian cracks some jokes.
‘Here’s one,’ he quacks joyfully. ‘What do you call a gaggle of ducks in a box?’
‘Honk?’
‘A box of quackers!’
‘Why are ducks good at fixing things?’
‘Honk?’
‘They know how to use duck tape!’
‘What has webbed feet, fangs and wears a cape?’
‘Hank?’
‘Count Duckula!’
Davy is a real quack-up.
But I digress. Our placard-carrying supporters, chant, and Dunedin Donny conduck’s with added vigour. The crescendo of the quackophony symphony heightens and cars on the street, honk their support.
The class of school children return, and waddling like ducks, they line up facing us ducks. The teacher positions herself in front of the children and raises her arm. Donny lowers his baton. We cease our honking.
‘Six little ducks that I once knew…
The innocent sound of young voices fills the air.
‘Down to the river they would go, wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble to and fro…
The children wibble-wobble on their feet, flap their arms, as camera crews zoom in, filming them. Our placard-carrying supporters sing along.
‘But the one little duck with the feather on his back, he led the others with a quack, quack, quack…
Cheerful, sweet tones and poignant words.
‘Quack, quack, quack. He led the others with a quack, quack, quack.’
The Minister for Conservation emerges from the sanction of the Beehive. The body of huddled feathers, part and form a pathway for the neatly attired Minister to descend the steps.
‘Back from the river, they came not,’ The sweet, innocent voices continued with gusto.
‘For by the hunter’s guns, the ducks were shot.’
Rolling cameras zoomed in on the children, standing still heads bowed in silence.
Our feathers ruffle, our webbed feet shudder.
Megaphone Man strides to the front, ‘What do we want?’
‘An end to legalised duck shooting.’ They wave their placards, punch the air with their free fist.
The Minister clears his throat. ‘Ahem. An emergency sitting of the House is scheduled for this evening to consider a new bill presented to the House. Furthermore, until a resolution is found, this years’ duck-shooting season is cancelled.’
The ducks clap their wings, the placard-carriers cheer loudly, and the children wibble-wobbled as they sing.
‘Home from the river they would come,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, ho-hum hum.’