The Muscovy Duck: My Evil Minions
Out of the shadows emerges a giant scowling man in dressed all in black giving off an odor of hickory smoke and spent peanut oil. As he fully enters the half light other figures lurch behind awkwardly, hissing and wheezing their displeasure at you, their beady eyes full of ignorant hate stare from red warty faces, webbed feet leaving the tell-tale tracks of their feathery presence. Smooth toothless beaks devour week old macaroni salad with obscene noises and empty threats.
That is the general scene when I take out the trash at home. If you have grown up in South Florida you would be familiar with the ducks that inhabit the canals and artificial lakes that pepper the entire state; fat, lazy, ugly, surprisingly enthusiastic consumers of carrion that even give the turkey vultures a run for their money if something gets run down in the road: the ubiquitous Muscovy duck. In other states I’m sure when people think of ducks, home-spun farm scenes come to mind, here in Florida the first association is a filthy, omnivorous, wart faced creature rummaging around the dumpsters hoping to find the remnants of a rain-soaked bag of “Cheetos”.
Partly from familiarity, largely from laziness and partly to keep the cats (a.k.a. The “Jaguar-Sized Hell-beasts) out of the trash; I often throw leftovers out to the ever present ducks that congregate around the bushes in front of my door, where they make very quick work out of just about anything tossed to them. This admittedly happens so frequently that I’ve coined the term “duckposting” to describe the activity. As a result of my frequent “duckposting” the neighborhood ducks often will follow me around hoping for a hand out, like the least intimidating group of demonic familiars ever. It is almost as if it was a rejected idea for a direct-to-video “B-movie” written by someone who was traumatized as a young child in a petting zoo.
Now before you criticize me for “disrupting their natural feeding patterns”, these ducks are descended from countless generations of “urban” ducks who have lived almost exclusively on human detritus since the 50’s and have no intention of actually starting to “work for a living” when there is a dumpster nearby. I do admit a certain fondness for these creatures, probably because they are such an unwholesome corruption of what “duckness” should be; these are the ducks that evolved from ducks that flew South one year, got really fat and decided that flying back was too much bother, and started settling in the aviary equivalent of the trailer park, Florida’s canals. I suppose I am the unlikely champion for their unhealthy lifestyle and horrible diet, well maybe “champion” isn’t a good term, maybe apologist or Major Domo. Now I’m not sure what the term Major Domo means exactly, but I know Bib Fortuna did that for a living and it certainly sounds more impressive on a resume than fry cook. In any case useless, minions are better than no minions and that’s got to count for something.