The Duck Pond
It was a balmy May night in the sleepy little village of Fisting Gap on the Wye.
Swans slept at the side of the pond, necks curled under their wing. The sun played peek a boo with the fluffy, wispy clouds and red faced children hung over the bridge waiting for their pooh sticks to emerge. Flies fussed over the water as boatmen skimmed on its surface. Cybil and Jeffrey sat on their favourite bench and watched the evening draw to a close.
“Isn’t it beautiful tonight?”
“Isn’t what beautiful dear?”
“It, Jeffrey. All of it.”
“I suppose it is dear. I’ve never really thought about it that way.”
“You’re a Philistine Jeffrey. An utter Philistine.”
Jeffrey’s face twitched. His facial tics were a constant reminder that Cybil was most often right and that he was a mere man. And, therefore, most often wrong.
He sighed, opened his copy of The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western and flicked to his favourite chapter where Cameron and Greer met Magic Child in a brothel. Jeffrey loved this book as indeed he loved all Brautigan’s books.
Cybil thought they were a strange read. Certainly a strange read for a retired accountant. Perhaps it was Jeffrey’s love of the surreal which blinded him to the beauty of nature? Perhaps it was a gin induced neurosis? Jeffrey loved a tipple.
Cybil threw chunks of crusty bread to a motley crew of passing gangsta mallards. It was the height of the mating season and unattached mallards would have a pop at just about anything. They were the geezers of the duck pond. As the bread hit the water it was hoovered up and met with anxious quacks for more.
A passing cyclist stopped beside Cybil.
“Bread’s bad for ducks” he said. “Full of empty calories. You should feed them frozen peas.”
Cybil looked at the young man quizzically.
“Frozen peas? But that can’t be right.”
The cyclist thought for a moment.
“It must be. I read it in the Gruniad.”
“But what sort of peas? Mushy? Marrowfat? Garden?”
Cybil’s tone became more and more high pitched as she become more and more exasperated with this intruder.
“Is everything all right dear?” said Jeffrey.
“No it’s not Jeffrey!” Exclaimed Cybil. “That frightful young man told me off for feeding the ducks bread!”
“Now listen here you Cycling thug!” Said Jeffrey with the authority and weight of an elder. “Push off and annoy someone else or I’ll set my dog on you!”
“But you haven’t got a dog” said the cyclist.
“I’ll go and get one if you don’t go away! You two wheeled hooligan!”
The cyclist left, mumbling under his breath about old loonies and who cares about ducks anyway.
Jeffrey put his arm around Cybil’s shoulder and kissed her gently on the cheek.
“There, there dear. The rude young man has gone.”
“Oh Jeffrey! You’re my hero! I think you deserve a nice large Gin!’
“I’d love a Gin Cybil, but we’re completely dry.”
“Not a sausage.”
“No sausages either!?”
“That was a euphemism Cybil.”
A Sloe Gin Comedy of Errors
Back at home, Cybil had regained her composure and was manically rooting though every cupboard and drawer of their tiny cottage.
‘There must be a bottle of Bombay Sapphire here somewhere’ she thought.
“HAVE WE STILL GOT THAT BUCKET OF SLOES WE GATHERED?”
“YES I THINK SO. THEY’RE BEHIND THE BARRY MANILOW CUSHIONS ON THE CHEZ LONGUE.”
“GOT THEM! WHY DID YOU PUT THEM THERE?”
“IT’S AS GOOD A PLACE AS ANY DEAR.”
Jeffrey inspected the sloe plums. They were still firm and purple and decidedly sloe like.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT THE SLOES FOR JEFFREY?”
“SLOE GIN DEAR.”
“YOU ARE CLEVER JEFFREY.” Said Cybil. “WHAT ELSE DO WE NEED?”
“SHALL I COME INTO THE KITCHEN INSTEAD OF SHOUTING FROM THE LOUNGE DEAR?”
“GOOD IDEA JEFFREY!”
They sat on either side of a small, sturdy wooden kitchen table and Jeffrey powered up his laptop.
“It’s not Friday is it Jeffrey?”
“Friday phrases dear!”
“No Cybil. It’s Monday but Friday phrases will be a bit of a damp squib without Gin!”
“Good point Jeffrey. Are you looking up the recipe?”
Jeffrey googled Sloe Gin.
“Cybil, I think we may have a teensy weensy problem.”
“What is it Jeffrey? You don’t sound very happy.”
Jeffrey took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
“I’ve been reading the recipe and even ignoring the fact that sloe gin takes at least three months to mature, and Friday Phrases is just four days away, the recipe also calls for….you’re not going to believe this….Gin!!”
“We need gin to make sloe gin? What nonsense!”
“Apparently we do dear.”
“Off licence Jeffrey?”
“Can we stop for pizza on the way back?”
“Why not! Shall I drive?”
“I’d rather you didn’t dear.”
Later that evening Cybil and Jeffrey were relaxing in their favourite recliners. The sun had long since dipped below the horizon. The ducks had fallen silent. And there was a report on TV that a cyclist had crashed into the back of a slurry spreader and was stuck in the outlet pipe.
Cybil and Jeffrey were happily smashed.
“Another Gin Jeffrey?”