River Mist Tales: Ducks

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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Ducks

Emmi pulled her dependable, if aging, Jeep close to the curb, around a swooping corner, just behind the shop lined Main Street.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Sorry Emmi, I know you don’t understand, not really, but he won’t stop, Ronson won’t return, not until those ducks are freed,” said Donal Fionnlagh ignoring his companion’s low voice, her swinging glance moving up and down the street, Emmi’s tight grip on the steering wheel.

“All you need to do Emmi, is drive,” said Donal as he stepped away from the Jeep, disappearing into the moonless black mist swallowing what little electric light flowed down upon the village center.

Since she was five years old, Emmi had been entangled with the mysterious, some would say strange, though Emmi claimed magical, shenanigans of the unconventional Fionnlagh family.

And each time she thought she had discovered the truth about the Fionnlaghs, Emmi’s memories would become muddied, until she doubted there had been any unusual activity, until she had accepted the story Donal wove around his family, their secrets, Emmi’s very human interaction.

But the ducks, they were an obsession surely, Emmi thought, as she watched Donal disappear into the ghostly scene, a black hole of an cool summer’s night.

If only Ronson, Donal’s younger brother were here, he’d talk sense into Donal, he’d keep his brother from behaving too irrationally, allowing bitter emotions decisive and reckless prominence.

But Ronson, the the seventh of nine sons, was missing, and had been missing for six months with no viable lead as to where he was, or if he was safe, at least no leads the family would discuss in front of Emmi, although she knew Donal had plenty of theories, many of them fantastic, most just plain impossible.

Emmi had watched as her best friend grew thin and pale, hatred growing inside Donal, frustration and anger festering as he watched a collection of whimsically dressed ducks, one wearing a baseball cap favored by the missing Ronson, grow in number, displayed row upon row in the window of a Main Street shop, until the ducks became a tourist attraction unto themselves.

Alone in the wandering mist, Emmi worried what the temperamental shop keeper, Mr. Fitzhenry, who had already banned Donal from entering the shop during business hours, would do if he caught Donal breaking into the shop in the middle of the night.

As a loud crack tumbled through the inky murk of midnight, followed by the electronic blare of a booming alarm and the thud of heavy footsteps, Emmi burst into action, keeping the lights off she moved the Jeep into the middle of the road, she pulled into the entryway of the parking lot of St. Stephen’s Church, pointing the Jeep towards the shortcut through the old park, then counting the seconds as instructed, Emmi waited, briefly, as the passenger door opened wide, and with gulping breaths, pulling a dazed Ronson behind him, Donal shouted, “Go, go, go!”

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