“Bang, bang,” went Timmy as he began his reign of terror against the inhabitants of Duck Pond Inn with a steady firing of his air gun. His first targets, the many visiting ducklings (Old Mr. and Mrs. Duck’s great-grandchildren) playing catch in the pond. Their very sleepy and content grandparents, happy to have the kids for the summer, dozing nearby.

“What was that?” asked Old Mrs. Duck nudging her husband, as she woke up to the first wave of shrieks ripping through the woods. And let out a feather-ruffling shriek of her own.

“Duffy playing dirty again, is he?” muttered Old Mr. Duck lazily, stifling a yawn. One half-opened eye scanning for the miscreant, the other one already ready to doze off.

To their horror, it wasn’t Duffy. Or Fluffy. Or Snuffy for that matter. Who looked up to Duffy as if he were some sort of a cool dude. It was the boy from the cottage. Taking potshots at their great-grandkids. Flashing his wicked, wicked grin.

“Get out of there,” Old Mr. and Mrs. Duck yelled together, as still more shots hissed past the ducklings. Like cannons in a war zone. Nicking one’s feathers, one’s rear, one’s neck. The ducklings flapped about in panic. Quacking and crying and crashing into one another as they half flew, half paddled to the other end of the shore. Dashing for cover to the nearest bushes the moment they hit land.

Back in his old neighborhood, the air gun had been the boy’s favorite toy. One that he’d played with often. In the afternoons. After school. When he’d be home all alone.

Out on the veranda, when the cats shrieked and the dogs whimpered and yelped and the birds, mostly pigeons, smashed through the neighbors’ windows across or into the flowerbeds below, Timmy would shout “hurrah!” and grin his toothy wicked grin.

Just as he was doing now. At the shocked, wide-open eyes staring at him from the undergrowth, the branches, and around the tree trunks all around.

All creatures near and about had suddenly realized what was going on, and had either darted for cover themselves or stood frozen to the ground, blending with their surroundings. But for Old Mr. and Mrs. Duck who stood aghast. Unable to comprehend the true nature of this boy.

Timmy considered them for a while. It occurred to him, just as it had that morning while helping out Grampy with odd jobs around the farm, that he was no longer confined to an apartment on the third floor. That he could do much more than just take aim. The entire farm was his playground now. His domain. And all creatures within easy reach. To be dealt with as he pleased. Just as long as he returned home before Grampy or the dogs woke up or his parents came home.

“I am the king of this duck pond,” he said to himself as he lunged for the old duck, who stood quaking in his boots, a wing stretched out, quivering, yet shielding his wife.

But it wasn’t him the boy was after. No, it wasn’t. Old Mr. Duck would have his turn. But just then, he’d spotted a far more curious a creature in the undergrowth. A rubbery, greenish thing with a muffled, choky croak. A neck that ballooned and flattened in turn. And a sticky tongue that could lick clean eyeballs, among other things. It was trying to stay hidden in plain sight, and was failing miserably at it.

“A frog, are you?” he said to Froggie the Frog trapped in between his hands, one of the Frog brother duo unlucky enough to be lunching on flies nearby. “Wonder how far you can fly?”

Timmy spun the frog around by his legs then and launched it across the pond.

Splat! The frog hit the water. Dizzy and breathless. Calling out to his brother, Frog-gie the Frog, for he was a terrible swimmer and thought he’d sink.

And the boy yelled, “Hurrah!”  like he always did, throwing up his arms victoriously, laughing his wicked, wicked laugh.

“I am the King of the Duck Pond,” he shouted to the sky. The woods. The world at large. “And I shall do whatever I please.”


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