Humor Non-Fiction posted June 12, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
A family golf outing turned into duck CPR

Lazarus the Duck

by Mary Wakeford

Before I begin this story, there is something you should know about me. I married a natural athlete and together we spawned four more.

My husband played just about every sport throughout high school and college; football, soccer, baseball, volleyball, golf, beer pong. You name it, he played it.

Have you ever heard of a soccer icon named Pele? My husband stole the ball from him during a game once. It happened before I knew him. He reminds me of this moment in his history every decade or so. Basketball great, Walt Chamberlain, admitted once to carving notches in his headboard for every woman he bedded, said to number in the tens of thousands. My husband has one notch in his. It represents the Pele steal.

My Mister has cycled from Tucson to Phoenix several times in support of Cancer Foundation fundraisers. I spoked down a volcano once for fun, and nearly ended up in the morgue. He is degreed in physical education and sports physiology, with a minor in biology. I'm degreed in strenuous exercise avoidance, with a minor in body preservation practices.

I don't "physical" well.

Our four adult children are sporty too. They lettered in golf, soccer, softball, and a few nabbed college scholarships to play. I lettered in sleep management. They are smart too, not to give the impression they are just jocks. Two of our kids are married, further embedding the sporty dynasty by marrying athletic types. I'm freaking outnumbered.

Our dog, Moose, even puts me to shame. He is a scholar baller, collecting tennis balls off the roof and the backyard fence with precise timing and athleticism, sometimes executing flips in the air to make a save. He would make a great shortstop. Nothing gets by the Mooser.

Then there's Sophie, our Golden Doodle. A fancy name for a mutt. Sophie can't catch a lobbed ball released softly four feet from her face without looking foolish. Snap, snap, snap, miss, followed by confusion, "Duh, where did it go?" Every.Damn.Time.

If I were a dog, my name would be Sophie. I'm not a wuss. I was a real scrapper growing up and playing in the neighborhood-- street baseball and volleyball, but I'm what you would call a non-essential or "D- team" player in adulthood. I don't just ride the bench, I am the bench. A "fun" volleyball game among friends in my thirty's netted me four pinky finger surgeries and three surgeons. I dumped the first one when he recommended amputation to remedy the deformity. I now sport a fused, funky pinky that serves as a visual reminder supporting the fact I don't "physical" well.

I am a fooooking disaster, but a willing one. Just like Sophie the golden doodle. Together, we are anything but golden. My deformed finger hasn't quite convinced my inner voice (I call her Brunhilda) of this reality. Sometimes Bruni is 'all balls' and ready to play without considering the consequences of being an uncoordinated klutz. I'm thankful I didn't have to play the role of the sperm in my own conception. All I had to do was float and let one little swimmer do all the work. I like floating. If the responsibility of swim duty was left up to me, I likely would not be here writing about a miracle duck named Lazarus. Lucky for you.

And now, I now introduce, drum roll please...


The Setting -- The Legend Golf Course, Glendale, Arizona. Our son-in-law recently returned safely from a tour in Afghanistan, and we were enjoying time together as a family.

Golfers -- My family making up two foursomes of eight golfers, ranging in player ability. Seven excellent players, and one floater.

Scene -- A brisk January day atop an elevated tee box overlooking a large pond. We were enjoying clear skies, crisp fresh air, chirping birds, and a bevy of Black Scoter ducks at rest on the other side of the pond chillaxing on the lush green winter grass. Somewhere among the assembled black feathered was an unlucky ducky completely unaware he was about to star in an Owen Meany kind of day.

The lead foursome consisted of my sporty husband, my sporty daughter, my sporty son-in-law, and m'wa, the floater. The remaining parties were behind us, finishing up play on the first tee.

My husband went first, followed by our daughter, and son-in-law. My position as the last in the foursome did not go unnoticed, igniting a flashback to the sixth grade. I was always anchoring the last to be chosen line as school mates were picked in alternate bidding wars between two team captains. The captain's were always jocks and teacher's pet to one of the nuns, or had a parent with influence on the school's budget committee. In the eighth grade, a boy picked me first, once. For his effort, I slugged a homer in time to clench the win. Greg Beaudoin, if you are reading this, I've never forgotten that. You rock!

I observed carefully as my husband, daughter and son-in-law plugged their tees into the soft ground, then balanced their puckered balls on the little peg, and studied the lay of the land before taking a few practice swings.

I experienced swing envy as they addressed their balls, then flew them a good 200 yards into the fairway. Finally, it was my turn to fly that ball! I pondered slinking back to the golf cart without having to make a fool of myself. I doubted anyone would notice if the "floater" didn't tee one up. Still moping about being last, Brunhilda broke out in song; "Let it go, let it go..." Over her off key singing, I heard, "Mary, you're up." Damn it!

I set my ball, took a few swings and was feeling confident and focused until my husband shared with me and the universe four seemingly innocuous words... "Don't hit those ducks" as he gestured pointing his Snake Eyes Viper Titanium club the direction of the resting flock. His motion was reminiscent of Babe Ruth at the plate pointing the direction of his intended homers. There must have been a hundred mini-black swans bunked like sardines, fifteen deep, catching rays on the grass just north of my tee'd up missile.

Slightly irritated and a tad offended my husband didn't feel the need to caution our daughter or son-in-law with those same four words prior to their launches, I quietly considered pulling an "Elin" on my own tiger with the wood I was gripping incorrectly, as he would soon point out. Brunhilda quietly whispered "FORE."

He fooooooking notched me and I immediately felt the wilt in my golf confidence crash from 3 to zero in five-point-two seconds. After sarcastically thanking him for placing that thought into the universe and my head, I settled in for the kill shot. I just didn't know it yet.

I proceeded to address my ball and again shake off the slight. Then the coaching began. "Relax...feet wider...take some practice swings...keep your head down...don't take your eyes off the ball... I'll tell you where it goes...focus."

FOOOOOK-US!!!! I had to talk Brunhilda off the ledge as she was ready to unleash our Big Bertha club on his big 'moutha'.

Following one more remanded practice swing, I faced my bright orange demonized ball, trying hard to concentrate on not executing a Pirouette to an audience of three and the hundred bird brains assembled across the pond. Yes, my golf history would lead one to believe a bad ballerina was practicing twirls on the links. I steadied my very long flexible shaft and swung for the stars since I couldn't see the little white flag we were all supposed to be aiming for, some 400 yards ahead.

S-W-I-N-G followed by snap, crackle, pop, whish, fart, BAM!

Time stood still as ninety-nine ducks flew skyward at the sound of impact when my Wilson Duo made a kill shot to one unlucky duck head. Black wings sprang into full extension before falling silent. A dead Donald lay sprawled across the beautiful green grass, his black feathers glistened radiantly under the bright Arizona sun, motionless. Not so much as a flutter.

My husband was the first to remark, with a tinge of disgust evident in his tone, "You killlllled it." My son-in-law, laughed briefly before realizing both my daughter and I were on the verge of tears and didn't see any humor in the bizarre scene that lay still and in a heap ahead of us. He is a quick learner. I screamed "NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOO" in my loudest outside voice as if starring in a scene from Shirley Temple's Heidi. I wasn't in the Alps, but my N's and O's seemed to reverberate off the plush landscaping, water feature, stucco homes and 99 birds now in flight and dealing with survival syndrome issues as they mourned the death of their Flat Stanley comrade. Time stood still for a moment.

I threw down my Big Bertha as if it were a weapon in a murder case, and sprinted off toward disaster. As I rounded the edge of the pond and neared lifeless Donald, I noticed the accomplice in the murder case, my bright orange Wilson duo hiding behind a blade of grass a good ten feet ahead of its victim, suggesting one hell of an impact.

Wheezing and out of breath from the physical exercise expended in the 911 sprint, I dropped to my knees next to the feathered and seemingly dead avian. It was obvious to me he was in serious need of duck CPR, or a mortician. I was his only chance. Executioner turned Savior.

I picked up his lifeless body and began pumping his chest area while blowing breaths into his bright orange beak as I ran for cover under the nearest tree. I somehow felt Donald needed shade. I can't explain the shade thing. It was January in Arizona, but I was out of my mind for poor Donald. Perhaps in reflection, I'm not as good as I thought myself to be during emergency situations.

As I continued to work the chest compressions and mouth to beak puffs, I sensed I too might pass out and join the unconscious. I looked for backup across the large pond to the party of three and noticed grave concern on their faces. I sensed the concern was for me, not the dead duck. I also wondered if my son-in-law, an Army medic, was conducting a mental health evaluation for a genetic condition he might later witness in his own bride. Considering his medical training, I could have used an assist. "SNAP OUT OF IT AND SAVE THE FOOOOKING DUCK" yelled Brunhilda, in a heightened, hysterical, and bitchy voice.

Miraculously, and just as I was about to keel over from the heightened repetitions of exercise...swinging, snap, crack, fart, boom, splat, NNNNNNOOOOOO, sprint, pump and blow, Donald's left wing started to move. Then his right lifted. A few seconds later, both eyes popped open as he tried to control his floppy neck. I understood the neck weakness. I experienced the same phenomenon following a high speed rear-ender decades ago.

I was ecstatic, and began screaming "HE'S ALIVE, HE'S ALIVE" in my outside wilderness voice. Donald was now awake and really pissed. He opened his beak wide and tried to bite me, allowing for one more solid direct flow of forced breath into those tiny duck lungs. With that, his eyes rolled back and he began heaving--one, two, three, four, five -- dead, wildly smelly little fishes flew out of his orange pie hole. It was as if a PEZ dispenser had been unleashed in rapid fire all over my pant leg and shoes.

Donald was now becoming aggressive and more than feisty, snapping at my face. Not wanting to add duck bite to my list of life achievements, I placed him on the ground in front of me. Too late, I had a bleeder. Initially confused at determining if the red stream on my hand belonged to me or Laz the spaz, I tried to stifle Brunhilda's building hysteria as she caught sight of the red flow of life, "OH GREAT, NOW WE'RE BOTH GOING TO DIE FROM BIRD FLU!!"

Donald, renamed Lazarus for the miracle he was, shook a few times in an Elvis Presley kind of way, and waddled back to the pond. He waded in and paddled away from me in his private pond, sporting one hell of a headache. He swam in a continuous circling pattern. I don't know if he did that before the head shot, but I was getting dizzy just watching.

Had there not been witnesses, no one would have believed the scene.

Brunhilda's concern about the bloody bite was building as she dropped the antibiotic buzzword. I opted, instead, for sacrificing a can of Bud Light as a sanitizer figuring the alcohol content, though not ideal, was better than bottled water. I picked an orange off a tree at the next tee box and ran that over my pants and shoes to quiet the escalating scent of dead fish juice, and quiet the gagging reflex that was emanating from Bruni.

All afternoon, I worried Lazarus could still die of a brain hemorrhage, but was somewhat comforted by the fact I wouldn't know of his demise once we cleared the area. I was okay with that, ignorance is bliss. As long I didn't have to see a lump of dead feathers caused by my misdirected Wilson duo.

An hour and a half later we were headed to the back nine when our four cart convoy was stopped by the golf course ranger. We were being directed to restart at the front nine since they were experiencing a backlog of golfers on the back nine. "NNNNOOOOOOO!!!" What if Lazarus had an internal hemorrhage that finally took him? I braced myself.

As we rolled up to the scene of the Lazarus miracle, I scanned the landscape and pond for signs of a downed duck. I am happy to report Lazarus was cruising the pond with his flock. He was easy to spot. He was the one swimming in tight circles.

I sat in the cart for round two on the pond shot. Why chance another Owen Meany kind of day?

Story of the Month contest entry


I'm that person who scoots bugs and spiders out of the house so they can live out their little lives. Flies being the exception. They get whacked. The thought of killing a poor bird with a bad shot, wasn't going to sit well with me so I pulled out all the stops.

Thank Heaven for happy endings.

Internet photo courtesy of Google image.
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