Bernie the duck, with his yellow feathers and orange feet and beak, waddled into the living room to find his young friend Leo playing with a set of wooden blocks. They lived in a brownstone in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn in New York City with Leo’s parents, who were both professors at a prestigious university. Bookcases filled with impressive-looking volumes lined the walls of the living room, and thick oriental carpets covered the hardwood floors.
“I say, Master Leo,” said Bernie in a stiff British accent. “I believe I smell freshly-baked cookies in the kitchen. What do you say we act like a couple of scallywags, rogues, if you will, and pilfer one or two of them?”
Leo had a roundish, ruddy face and sandy-blond hair. He looked over at his aquatic friend and pretended to straighten a stiff collar and tie, even though he wore little boys’ jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a blue dog on it.
“I think that’s a capital idea, old chap,” he said.
He stood up, and followed Bernie into the next room. Bernie pretended to march in a military-style walk, and Leo giggled and imitated him.
As they neared the kitchen, they could hear the nanny, Miss Zelda, busying herself with preparing Leo’s lunch. Bernie leaned over to whisper in Leo’s ear.
“I’ll distract her,” he said. “And you procure two of those delicious biscuits.”
“That’s what the Brits call cookies,” said Bernie with a wink.
Leo nodded and grinned. He hid to the side while Bernie ran into the kitchen flapping his wings and quacking.
Miss Zelda, an angry black woman from Corona, Queens, must have weighed three hundred pounds, but for some reason she feared Bernie.
“Damn you, you crazy duck,” she said, grabbing a broom. “Get away from me!”
“Quack, quack, quack,” said Bernie, still flapping his wings.
Leo turned the corner while Miss Zelda looked the other way. He pushed a stool next to the countertop, scrambled onto it, and reached up to the counter. The plate of cookies lay there, but he grabbed a heavy rolling pin sitting next to it instead.
He hopped down off the stool, and just as Miss Zelda bent down to shoo Bernie away, he bashed her on the back of the head with it, and she fell to the linoleum with a terrific thud.
“What the hell, Leo?” said Bernie, losing his British accent. He originally came from Canarsie. “You might’ve killed her!”
“Ah, fuck her,” said little Leo. “I want to have some fun, and that old bitch never lets me. Now, grab a bottle of vodka and my sippy cup, and meet me in mom and dad’s bedroom.”
“Shit, I got a bad feeling about this,” said Bernie, looking at Miss Zelda stretched out on the kitchen floor.
“Just do it!” said Leo, heading into the next room.
“Quack, quack,” said Bernie.
He went to the liquor cabinet and took out a bottle of Stoli. He found Leo’s cup and made his way to the bedroom. There he found Leo up on a chair going through his parents’ dresser drawer.
“What’re you doing?”
Leo turned to him with a grin on his face. He held in his hand a giant bag of pot.
“Pour me a drink, and let’s get baked!” he said.
“Man, you really shouldn’t be doing that.”
Leo jumped down off the chair holding a joint and a lighter.
“When did you become such a downer? You’re the one who’s always going on about being a scamp and a rascal, shit like that.”
“Yeah, but I’m talking about, you know, putting bugs in little girls’ hair or eating too much candy. Innocent kid stuff.”
Leo fired up the jay and took a deep drag.
“Yeah, well, now you’re playing big boy games.”
Bernie watched while Leo Bogarted the joint and took hits of vodka from his sippy cup. Leo started looking under the bed and in the nightstand.
“Oh, man, look at this,” he said, holding up a packaged condom.
“What about it?”
“Dad’s wearing a raincoat, and I want a little brother to pick on.”
He took another hit on the joint and looked further through the drawer. He came out with a small needle.
“This’ll do the trick,” he said, poking a hole in the condom.
“Man, you’re going to get us both in a world of trouble,” said Bernie.
Leo had become glassy-eyed. He looked down at the blue dog on his shirt.
“Woof woof!” he said. “Doggie!”
“What about it?”
“What about it is I’m high as a kite, and I got the munchies,” said Leo. “Bring me that plate of cookies!”
Bernie let out a heavy sigh. He plodded out to the kitchen, then returned with the plate of cookies in his beak.
“Miss Zelda must’ve come to,” he said, setting down the plate. “She ain’t out there. Thank God you didn’t kill her.”
Little Leo fell upon the cookies and devoured them with great relish.
“Oh, shit those are good,” he said between bites. “But, man, am I getting sleepy.”
Miss Zelda came into the room, looking very angry.
“So here you are,” she said. “I don’t know what happened, but I got a big knot on my head, and you better believe the lady of the house going to hear about it.”
“Sleepy, sleepy,” said Leo rubbing his eyes.
“Okay, let’s put you down for your nap,” said Miss Zelda, picking him up. She glowered at Bernie, who tried to hide behind the bed. “I’ll deal with you momentarily,” she said.
Leo woke from his nap three hours later with a fierce hangover. He sat up in his bed, holding his teddy bear. He whimpered until Miss Zelda came to fetch him.
“That was a good nap,” she said, helping him off the bed. “I bet you’re ready for lunch.”
“Hungy,” he said, pointing towards his belly. “Hungy.”
“Right, well, food’s all ready.”
She carried him out to the kitchen and put him in his booster chair at the table.
“Bernie?” he said, looking around.
“Oh, that foolish duck done ran off somewhere,” she said.
She set a tray in front of him. It held a bowl of steaming soup, and a plate with a drumstick on it.
“This ain’t chicken,” she said. “But it’s like chicken. Go on and try it. You’ll love it.”
Leo grabbed the drumstick and bit into it. The skin had roasted crispy brown, and the meat remained moist and succulent. Delicious!
“Yum yum!” said Little Leo. “Yum yum!”