The Swamp Man

The Swamp Man counted the scratches he had made on the wall. Seventeen scratches were still there. It hadn’t changed in the 3 minutes since the last time he looked. He continued to pace, feet sloshing and splashing against the smooth concrete.

Seventeen days had seemed like an eternity. His life in the swamp was a distant memory.

If it hadn’t been for that rabbit he would have never entered the room next to the playground. His cell. So many cattails to eat in the swamp, but no, he had to go greedily chasing the only mammal he’d seen in weeks. After hours of chasing the rabbit through the night from the swamp to the city, the rabbit had blindly hopped into the room next to the playground. The Swamp Man closed the door, unwittingly locking them together in the room. He chased the furry meal around his cell for hours until it collapsed from exhaustion. It wasn’t until after he had made a tasty meal of the lagomorph that he realized what he had done.

The room was an abandoned storage room of sorts for an abandoned playground. The swamp man had caught some of his swamp skin in the locking mechanism of the door when he hastily closed the door to trap the rabbit. The result was a door that wouldn’t open, neither from pushing or pulling.

After failing to jar open the door, The Swamp Man laughed at his folly and moved to make quick work of the glass with his fists. Unfortunately for the Swamp Man, his squishy fists did not provide sufficient hardness to cause the glass to crack. He pounded the glass until his leafy arms went from green to black. His feet also failed to break the glass, leaving the Swamp Man jumping up and down, holding a stubbed toe.

Cursing in frustration, the Swamp Man moved the the corrugated aluminum siding to the right of the window. He pounded his fists against the metal.  He felt elated when the top corner began to give. He grabbed the corner with both hands to push outwards. The metal bent more. The Swamp Man pushed hard. Then the metal gave way, slipping under his swamp fingers, causing his hands to slice down the metal siding, rendering them useless. He cried out in pain but persisted. He pushed at the corner with his elbows but only found himself tearing away more of his swamp flesh. He howled and kicked at the wall in frustration which left him jumping up and down again, holding another stubbed toe.

After days of brooding under the leaky drain pipe in the back corner, the Swamp Man resigned himself to rescue as his only option. However, his rescue posed two problems. One, the playground was not well attended. Since school was in session there was not a steady supply of children taking to the merry-go-round. He could go days without seeing a soul. And two, he lacked the tact to do anything but send the children running away, screaming when he did try to make contact. The last he had scared away more that 2 days ago when he pounded on the glass in excitement at a gang of youngsters spinning on the playground.

The Swamp Man continued to pace, sloshing back and forth only stopping occasionally to attend the drain pipe while it was running. The Swamp Man reached his tentacles to the drain pipe, when through the window he noticed a little girl sitting on the merry-go-round. His heart leaped. She hadn’t been there a moment ago. This was the first child he had seen alone. Not only was she alone, she wasn’t playing on the playground. She was just sitting there.

He walked up to the window and peered at her over the Winnie the Pooh seat. She seemed to be gazing in the distance at nothing in particular or maybe something out his his vision. He saw no parents or friends nearby. She seemed very lonely just like the Swamp Man. Maybe he could finally connect with someone who would be able to free him.

The Swamp Man stooped to her level in the doorway to his left. He lightly tapped on the glass, squishing swamp juice all over, and prayed that she wouldn’t run when she saw him.

The girl looked up and jumped off her seat. She put her hand over her chest and looked wide eyed at the figure behind the glass. The Swamp Man rocked back slowly, remaining in his stoop, and put his hands up. He learned from experience that children do not like sudden movements.

He gestured to himself and to the girl a few times. She had stopped looking around, for help, or an escape, he didn’t know. She was now staring at him quizzically.

Then she smiled! He was going to be free!

But quickly, despair washed over him again with the realization that she alone wouldn’t be able to help. How was such a small girl, with her Hello Kitty jeans, going to help him open his cell. The Swamp Man had to get her to go find an adult. He started to gesture wildly for her to go find help.

The girl ignored his gestures. She reached in her pocket and pulled out some sort of long object. She pressed a button on it and a knife sprang forth. She looked up and the Swamp Man, flashing a brilliant smile. She took the switchblade to the bricks next to the door and dug out the mortar. After a moment she produced a brick from the stack. She carried the brick beyond the merry-go-round and threw it at the door. The glass shattered all over the ground.

The Swamp Man emerged from his cell, finally free.

He moved to thank the girl. She struck a pose and gestures with both hands, “That’s how I do!” she said. Then she positioned herself defensively. “But, you ain’t gettin’ outta here alive.”

The Swamp Man laughed and snapped his mouth tentacles at her. How could a little girl hurt him, even with a knife? And what could she possibly want?

The girl made a sarcastic face and pointed at the sun. “You gonna die out here Trash Man!”

She was right. He had to find a sewer quickly before he melted! He frantically began looking for a manhole when the girl yelled for him to stop.

“Hey Trash Man.” she said. “Take This. For the crocodiles.” She threw him the switchblade.

He gave the girl a quick nod of thanks. She returned with a crisp salute.

Then she turned and ran; never to be seen again.

Posted for The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.
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Fat Ducks

Every time it rains the ducks come to my house.  The utility easement floods a little and makes kind of a pond that attracts the ducks.  There are two ducks that fly into my backyard for a bath, but more importantly to feast on the seeds thrown out of the feeder by the smaller birds. Ducks’ webbed feed can’t wrap around the little sticks on the feeder.

Ducks also can’t fit on the feeder because they are too fat.  Ducks are too fat because they eat too much.  The female duck that lands at my house is fat because she won’t stop eating.  Her weak-kneed husband’s will is no match for his wife’s insatiable desire to feed.

The husband duck stands sentry while his mess-of-a-wife gobbles down duck bill after duck bill of seed, mulch, fertilizer, and bugs.  The male duck never eats anything.  He patiently waits until they hear a noise or the neighbor dog starts to chase them.  He’s a good man, but needs to stand up for himself.  They usually get a good 30 minutes of uninterrupted feeding.  Sometimes the male sounds the alarm only to realize the noise is his wife banging her head against the feeder pole in order to dispense more food.

I can only imagine their daily conversations go like this:

Male: Such a wonderful day for flying.  With the wind beneath our wings we can go anywhere our hearts desire.

Female: MMMMM.  I’M HUNGRY!

Male: Uh, why we just ate moments ago.

Female: LETS GO BACK TO THAT ONE HOUSE! WITH THE FOOD!

Male: My dear, have you already digested the salamander I spent so much time –

Female: OH THERE IT IS! THE FOOD HOUSE! LOOK OUT OTHER BIRDS! HERE I COME!

Male: Uhg.

I didn’t know that ducks ate bird seeds.  I found out that birds are omnivorous which means they really prefer people food.  Now, when I see the ducks come, I search the fridge for the things that they really want to eat.  They get steaks, chicken wings, dinner rolls and butter, loaded baked potatoes, cheese dip, nachos, tacos, and french fries.  A real American meal.  I even take the time to set souffle cups of ranch dressing (fat girl ketchup) for dipping the fries and wings.  It’s so funny to watch the duck dip its little bill into the ranch dressing with a hunk of chicken wing hanging out of her mouth, buffalo sauce covering her cheeks.

Oh yeah, the male still won’t eat any of the “omnivore” food.  I’m starting to think that the male duck isn’t a real man.  I went out and tried to high five him and I threw a football to him but he ran away like a girl!  We (the female duck and I) convinced him to throw the football back but he couldn’t even throw a spiral.  What a sissy!  The female duck and I just laughed at him while he hung his head in shame.  She told him to wait in the utility easement pond while she finished feeding.  What a lame duck.