Well, it’s safe to say I hit a new low—as the term goes. Some days I felt super cheery, as if the world was my oyster and I had just pried the thing open and there, staring back at me, was a huge pearly white pearl. And then other days I felt like the world was a clam, a rotten, stinking clam that couldn’t even be salvaged in a chowder. Life had become one crustacean to the next, and there was no telling what sort of fish I’d scoop out of the sea on any given day. It was when I was in my gloomiest that I tried to lock myself away, like a hermit crap in its shell. And I’d shut out the daylight and just stumble around in a dream-like stupor until the sun had set and then sleep.
It was on one of those rotten days that I decided that stumbling around in a stupor wasn’t going to pull me out of the depths of my depression. So I decided to go to the park. The green grass, green trees, and green benches. The pond well stocked up on ducks. The meadow-like breeze playing with my hair. Yes, it was a serene park. And so I went.
I sat at the bench and stared at the ducks, who stared back at me with wanting eyes. They huddled around me, waiting for any sign that I had bread. Upon finding I didn’t have any food-stuff, they waddled off in anger and splashed about in the water throwing little-duck tantrums. It was nice being out and not having to deal with my friends who never seemed to listen to a thing I said. And just when I really started to enjoy myself, there came trouble around the corner.
Lester Chester wasn’t fond of the park. For all the years I’ve known him he loathed anything that had to do with nature. He strictly ate processed foods, stating that anything that wasn’t heavily salted and curdled by factory-workers was not only Un-Zoicterranean, but barbaric. It’s safe to say he was a big man with a big appetite and ate fast food as religiously as a vegan didn’t. So to my great surprise, there he was running in a state of utter panic, panting down the winding lane. Spotting me he dove behind the bench.
“Hey, Chip,” he said.
“Hey, Lester,” I said.
“Shhhh,” he said. “I’m not here.”
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“It’s hard to explain. But I’m in trouble.”
I looked behind the bench at the squatting, panting form of Lester. He was in a big coat and he had in his hand a large loaf of bread.
“Where’d you get that?” I asked.
“I stole it.”
“It was a dare.”
Lester Chester was a big fan of dares. He once climbed a church steeple because a 13 year old dared him to. After he failed and fell of the steeple; ended up in the hospital; and all the physical therapy—he went at it again and that time, only had a minor fracture. He loved dares more than he loved his well-being.
“Who dared you?” I asked.
Tabatha Carmichael had always had a thing for Lester and showed her love by putting him in awkward situations.
“Lester, you know better than that,” I said.
“No, I don’t.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“This stolen loaf of bread I have in my hand,” he said.
“You’ve got to hide me. The baker’s going to kill me.”
And it was just then that a large, brutish man came stampeding towards us. Lester dropped the bread in my lap and bolted off. Wheezing heavily as he went.
“Where’d he go?” the baker asked. He was holding a large rolling pin.
I shrugged my shoulders.
“I’ll let you keep the bread, if you tell me,” the baker said.
I looked out at the expectant ducks.
I pointed in the wrong direction.
The baker thanked me, told me the daily specials. “We’ve got wonderful oyster soup and clam chowder at the Baker’s Dozen,” he had said and then was off in a hurry.
The ducks huddled over to me and I broke off some bread and fed them. They looked happy, peaceful and I felt a nice, cold relief, thinking that life was good; despite all my hardships, at least I wasn’t being chased down by a mad baker with a rolling pin.
“Life’s not too bad, you know?” I said to the ducks.
The ducks stared back at me, waiting for what I would say next and hopping that maybe it had something to do with bread.
“You know what,” I said, tossing out bits of the loaf. “Thanks for listening.”