My phone beeped. The text message read “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE,” so I knew my brother had gotten his mail.
I had been planning to build a bed for my stepdaughter. I had plans drawn up and everything. Trying to save money, I asked my wife to look for a mattress online. Instead, she found a bed that almost exactly matched my plans, for about what the wood was going to cost me.
So we went to the used furniture store to look at the bed. And sure enough, it was just what we were looking for–a twin bed resting on top of a desk on one end, a set of shelves and drawers on the other. But on one of the shelves, there was something that made me recoil in horror.
They were just sitting there, waiting for me. As they taunted me silently from the shelf, I wondered, were they a warning? A sign from some great horror beneath the waves that the bed was cursed? Or had the ducks placed themselves there deliberately, knowing that I was coming, and that I would be their way out of an eternity gathering dust in a junk shop?
If you’re confused, you should understand that my family has a bit of a history with blue ducks.
My mother, as I recall, got it as a gift at one of those work things where you are obligated to give gifts but don’t really want to spend any money. She promptly regifted it to the family friends we spent New Years Eve with every year, as a joke.
And the next year, to our horror, we got it back.
This went on for some time, until the year we got the Blue Duck Jigsaw puzzle; in an effort to end the back and forth, the other family had taken a hammer to it, and boxed it up. It was a good idea. And really, it probably would have been best if it had died there. For our sanity, if not the story.
Of course, it didn’t. I was in the high school ceramics club, so I found a mold of a duck (in three dimensions this time) and painted it blue and black. (The white specks were beyond my abilities.) It was met with the appropriate horror, both by the teacher in charge of the ceramics club, and the recipients at the holidays, and the pattern of escalation was set. The next year, it was returned to us in a diorama.
Then my brother, in his freshman or sophomore year of college, did the unthinkable. He actually reassembled the Blue Duck Jigsaw Puzzle, and encased it in something near enough to unbreakable. And so that year, when they were expecting to be safely duckless after the holidays, there were two presentations.
The tradition continues to this day, though the damn things have to be shipped cross country every year.
These had a mark on the bottom, that declared them to be Enesco products. It appears that these were once in some way a “thing,” mass produced for people to buy, and not some horrible one-off experiment passed on at a party. Thankfully I could find no trace of them on the current site, so apparently someone has come to their senses.
Still, the company that now owns Gund once made these things. It makes me weep a little.
Regardless, we bought the bed, and almost against my will, the ducks. But there was only one thing I could do with them.
Happy birthday little brother!
Sadly, I may have created a monster. Armed with the knowledge that there are more of them out there, he’s gone looking. He’s already found one for sale on the web. I can only pray to the elder gods that the item was sold before he found it.