I guess some people are going to call what I’m just about to come out with a bit of a tall story, but I can’t help that. They might call me a complete head-case too but I can’t help that either. I can’t help what other people think – I can’t even help what I think, never mind other people!
On the other hand even though I can’t help what other people might think that doesn’t mean that I don’t CARE – I wish I didn’t care but I do and when people laugh at me (as they probably will when I come out with my story) then it hurts. It makes me feel small inside and stupid. It gets to me. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t because it does.
But anyway, to get on with my story, it goes back to the afternoon of the 3rd of Oct, which was a Friday as I recall. I was taking a walk by the pond in Mote Park in Maidstone where I was living at the time. As usual I had brought a few slices of white bread to crumble up and feed to the ducks. As usual the ducks swam up to get some of the crumbled up bread and as usual they started pecking at it and getting involved in little squabbles and all that sort of stuff. A few fish appeared and started getting in on the act too. But then I noticed that there was one duck holding back, and what is more – rather than focussing its attention on the bread like the other ducks it was looking up. It was looking up at me.
It was actually looking me in the eye, in rather a stern fashion. This gave me a very funny feeling, I have to tell you. But if that gave me a funny feeling that was nothing to what happened next. What happened next really knocked me for six. Holding me in its stern gaze the duck addressed me, by which I mean it spoke to me. Out loud.
“Nick,” said the duck, “I’m very disappointed in you. Your life is going nowhere and the sad fact of the matter is that you don’t seem to give a damn. Not once have you made the slightest effort to do something with your life, not once have you tried to actually make something of yourself. You seem totally content to be a lazy, useless gobshyte. You’re over fifty years of age and you’re as useless and immature as ever. What have you got to say for yourself?”
I immediately began to protest in a whiney sort of a voice about what the duck had just said, automatically coming out with a disjointed stream of denials and evasions and justifications and excuses and all that sort of thing, but the duck’s steely grey bored straight through me as I blathered on and on and I realized it was useless. I wasn’t even fooling myself. Even I didn’t believe the ridiculously pathetic excuses I was coming out with.
I stopped blabbering and stood there – trying for once in my life to be a man about it. Trying to take it on the chin. “You’re right,” I said to the duck, “I need to pull my finger out. I need to turn my life around before it’s too late. I need to cop on and stop spending all my time preoccupying myself with nonsense. I need to stop spending afternoons watching the Jeremy Kyle show and old Star Trek re-runs. I need to stop wasting all my time on the internet and lying in bed re-reading and re-re-reading all my old Philip K Dick novels for the zillionth time. As you say, I need to do something with my life…”
As I said this I realized to my surprise that I actually meant it. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I could hear the sincerity in my words. For once, it seemed as if I wasn’t bullshitting…
The duck looked at me gravely, and then after a long meaningful pause it spoke again. “See that you do, Nick,” it said, in sombre tones, “see that you do…”