A man gave a duck a gun and said, “Do whatever you feel is right.”
The duck had never seen a real gun before, just on TV, and he had trouble holding onto the pistol as guns are not exactly duck-friendly.
“I don’t want your stupid gun.”
“Guns aren’t stupid,” the man said. “They can keep you protected and safe.”
“If I’m in trouble, I just fly away,” the duck said.
“But if someone has a gun they can shoot you before you get very far.”
The duck thought about that. “I guess you’re right. Thanks.”
The duck waddled off and showed the gun to his friends. One pal was quite inventive and devised a mitt so that the duck could not only hold the gun, but aim it as well. After several weeks of intense practice, the duck became an expert marksman. His duck friends were mightily impressed and wanted weapons of their own, which they soon acquired.
Within a few months nearly every duck on the planet was armed with a hand piece. Some even hoisted AK47s. It was a strange sight, indeed.
Ducks started pulling heists, ripping off 7/11’s and befuddled bank owners, jewelry stores and gas stations.
Eventually mankind and the duck kingdom went to war. Bombs were dropped, chemical weapons were used. Blood and feathers painted most of the landscape.
The saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” had to be altered to, “Guns don’t kill people, ducks do.”
After years of carnage, there remained only one last man and one last duck standing.
“Don’t make me do it,” the surviving duck said, raising his pistol at the man.
“Look around,” the man said. “We’re the only ones left. If you kill me, you’ll be all alone. How will that make you feel?”
The duck thought about that. All his duck friends and relatives were already dead and he was lonely most of the time. Still there was the matter of the gun and, what good was a weapon if it didn’t get used?
He shot the man through the chest at the same time the man shot the duck. Plumage wafted in the air, hazy gunpowder forming twin clouds over the heads of both victims.
The duck staggered forward as if it was one-legged, or drunk or badly needing to urinate, while the man was hunched over, sucking in gulps of air.
“What have we done?” the duck asked.
“Did I hit your heart?” the duck asked.
“No, but it was close.” The man gasped again and again for breath. “You’re one hell of good shot.”
The duck pawed at the ground with its webbed foot. “You’re not bad yourself,” he said, “but let’s make a deal.”
Squinting against the pain, the man asked, “What have you got in mind?”
“If we both live, let’s stop this nonsense.”
The man raised his head. He was bleeding heavily. “If I’m going to make it, you’re going to have to staunch this wound.”
“Not a problem,” the duck said. “That’s what a good beak is for.”
“And I’ve got skinny fingers. I’ll dig that bullet out of you afterward.”
The duck felt dizzy, as if he’d just done twenty miles on a treadmill. “In another life,” the duck said, “I think we might have been friends.”
“There’s still this life,” the man said.
The duck bent down and clasped the man’s gaping chest wound, but not before saying, “I sure hope so. I’m counting on it.” ✷
Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of the story collection THE DARK SUNSHINE. His latest story collection, I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU is forthcoming from Unknown Press in March of 2016. You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com