The Duck Hunt Dream

Published in Stanford Short Stories 1968, Edited by Walace Stegner and Richard Scowcroft, with Nancy Packer

From the story:

stanford_short_storiesOf course I myself never gambled much, my grandfather was saying to old Mr. Tsouris as the crowd at Cousin Melpomene’s wedding surged around us…not like that wild-man brother of mine. He’d bet on two flies crawling up your arm. One time he bet me fifty bucks he could go out hunting ducks and never get his ass wet.

Mr. Tsouris and I laughed. My grandfather went on with his story.

One day the two of us are sitting up to Loulios’ when someone comes in with a big tapsi full of mallards. It was right around this time of year when they used to fly in out of Canada. Well, I point to the ducks and I says, “You know, Manoli, you gotta get your ass wet to catch ducks.”

My grandfather turned to me —

I said it in Greek, he explained. It was a saying we had. Well, Manoli—your Uncle Mike—he looks over at me and starts to laugh. “Bullshit,” he says. “Luke,” he says, “in my opinion a man could go hunting ducks and come in with a tapsi full and never get his ass wet.” Well, that makes me a little mad, you know. I see he’s pulling my leg. “Listen,” I says, “I know what I’m talking about. Lotsa boys have gone out and I heard how they do it. It has to storm. The ducks keep low when it storms, otherwise they’re up so high the shotguns can’t reach ‘em…and that’s no guarantee you’re gonna get ducks,” I says. “Sometimes you sit in the water all day without getting a shot. You can get soaking wet and still come in empty-handed. And then you need guns and shells and licenses to hunt…I had all kindsa stipulations. But you know that Manoli, he had an answer for everything. How it finally turns out is he bets me fifty bucks we could go out and shoot a tapsi full of ducks and never get wet. Somehow we never went.