There once was a young man by the name of Bernard de Harrington who liked to go a-strolling. Our story opens upon young Bernard taking a stroll through the well-kept grounds of the local university. He was rather enjoying the walk when he came across a very odd-looking duck. Now, you might ask “if it was so odd-looking then how did he know it was a duck?” and I would have to reply that I don’t rightly know. It was about the size and shape of a duck (so that may have been what made him decide that it was a duck), but what made it look odd was that it was a very bright shade of orange-red.
Of course, an orange-red shaded duck is not in itself enough to make one stop enjoying one’s stroll. In fact you could argue that it would have made the walk more interesting and enjoyable, except that the duck decided that Bernard’s head looked like an absolutely delightful place to perch. And so it did perch, planting two webbed feet ﬁrmly on the top of Bernard’s hat. This is the last thing Bernard expected to happen, and his immediate reaction was to take a swipe at the bird, but he stopped himself and decided to see what the duck would do.
Once he got over his shock, Bernard was quite ﬂattered that the bird had chosen to perch upon his head out of all the people walking through the university. It was certainly a very distinctive bird. As he continued on his stroll he noticed people staring in admiration at the bright red-orange avian atop his hat. And every-so-often people would approach him and say “My, what a distinctive bird you have perched atop your hat. Is it a pet?” To which Bernard would reply, “Why thankyou. It’s not a pet. I don’t know why it decided to perch up there.”
The duck stayed with him all that day and into the next, and Bernard thought to himself “What a ﬁne thing to have such a friendly duck who stays with me all the time.” The duck only left his head when he went to bed in the evening and while Bernard slept the duck waddled and ﬂapped about the room sticking its beak into whatever it could ﬁnd.
Then one day the duck started to quack. It quacked and quacked and made a horrible ruckus. People began to stare at Bernard even more, but he didn’t think they were admiring him any more. They looked decidedly annoyed that his duck was making such a disturbing noise. The duck didn’t stop until Bernard eventually had the idea that perhaps the duck was hungry and he gave it some duck food.
The same thing happened that evening and Bernard started to get a little bit annoyed with the duck. But he didn’t mind too much because that very day some extremely attractive young ladies had struck up a conversation with him about the duck, and one of them had even asked him if he and his duck would like to meet up for coﬀee sometime.
The next day the duck started quacking again, and this time it wouldn’t be placated with food. It quacked and quacked until Bernard gave it some juice to drink. He was sorely tempted to make the duck go away because the quacking was extremely irritating and his neck was getting rather sore. But, he had arranged to meet up with the very attractive young lady that evening and he was quite convinced that she would be very disappointed if he didn’t bring the orange-red duck.
That night Bernard went to meet the very attractive young lady and was having a decidedly lovely time when the horrible duck began quacking, and this time would not stop until Bernard gave it a massage. The young lady was quite patient while the quacking went on and once Bernard had ﬁnished the massage they set about enjoying their evening again. It wasn’t long however before the duck started its horrible cacophony once more. This time the young lady politely excused herself and Bernard was left putting up with the horrible quacking until he took the duck to see a movie.
By this time Bernard had had enough. He reached up and grabbed the duck to rip it oﬀ his head. But to his great amazement and dismay, when he tried, he found that the duck’s feet had fused themselves to his scalp. He couldn’t get rid of the duck without taking his head oﬀ with it!
Well, needless to say, Bernard was quite shocked by this-but, undaunted he decided to go see a doctor ﬁrst thing in the morning. And that is what he did. He went and saw the doctor and the doctor said, “My good man, you don’t need to see a doctor, you need to see a veterinarian. Ducks are well outside my area of expertise.”
So Bernard went to see the vet, and the vet said, “My dear boy, whatever have you done to this poor duck?”
And Bernard said, “I haven’t done anything to it, I’ve fed it, gave it juice to drink, gave it a massage and took it to the movies. I just want to get rid of it, can you help me?”
And the vet replied, “Well, I could operate, but in order to remove the duck without hurting it I would have to remove one-quarter of your brain and skull.”
So Bernard went home very much dismayed.
The next day, after Bernard had fed the duck, given it juice, massaged it, taken it to the movies and moisturized its beak, Bernard noticed a man walking through the city with two protrusions sticking out of his head. Other people in the street seemed to be casting nasty glares at the man—although the man seemed rather unconcerned by them.
Somebody nearby noticed Bernard looking at the man and said “Horrible, isn’t it? The cruelty of some people! It’s unnatural. Someone should give him the chop.”
Bernard began walking after the man and, as he got closer, he realized that the protrusions sticking out of his head were in fact the legs and feet of a duck. Bernard was horriﬁed. He wanted to run away and scrub the disgusting image from his mind. Yet at the same time he couldn’t take his eyes oﬀ the man. In spite of his disgust he found himself following the man as he walked along the street– just to see where he went. At the same time he felt sick to his stomach at the thought of what must have happened to the duck.
Then, without warning, the man turned around and stared at Bernard. “You need help,” said the man. At this, the duck started quacking louder than it ever had before.
“Can you get rid of the duck?” asked Bernard.
“I can, but I’ll have to chop it oﬀ with an axe,” said the man, “and it will hurt… a lot.” Bernard was disgusted. He couldn’t think of anything more disgusting. But, he really wanted to get rid of the duck, who was by this stage beginning to hurt Bernard’s ears with its quacking. Hardly able to believe what he was doing, he yelled “Do it,” above the racket.
The man took him to his home which was not very far away. They went to the back yard where Bernard could see an axe and a large chopping block. “You’ll have to lie down with the duck’s legs in the middle of the block,” said the man.
“The legs,” asked Bernard, “Will I have to have them sticking out of my head forever?”
“They go away eventually,” replied the man, “but it takes a very long time.”
Trying very hard to pretend he was doing something else, Bernard lay down with the duck’s legs in the middle of the chopping block. Unfortunately, this meant that he was looking up at the man with the axe.
The man raised the axe. “Wait!” exclaimed Bernard, “How do I know you’re not a psycho axe murderer?”
The man paused. “You don’t,” he replied. “But I don’t have a duck on my head, do I?”
Bernard couldn’t argue with that, so he closed his eyes and waited for the axe stroke.
It hurt. A lot. Bernard cried and cried in agony for almost an hour, while the man looked on sympathetically.
But the duck was dead. And that was the important thing.