The elderly couple sat on the bench in the park. Nobody around to hear them. Only the ducks, and they weren’t quacking.
Jan brushed back her white hair. “So, Tally, did you get the gun?” Jan asked her friend.
“Oh,” he responded, “I forgot. I was so busy trying to figure out what to get you for Christmas.”
“Christmas?” Jan said. “Bah humbug.” Her hair fell onto her face. She pushed it back. It was beginning to annoy her. She’d been debating with herself whether she wanted to cut it very short or not. This decided it. She was cutting it short. “I told you to get the gun. How can we do a robbery without a gun?”
“I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Tally said. “Why don’t we just use water pistols?”
“They don’t look real enough. Only a gun looks like a gun.”
Tally squeezed the bridge of his nose between his eyes. He was concerned about the gun. Mostly he was concerned about forgetting it. He’d been forgetting more than usual. Maybe he had the Alzheimer’s that everybody at the apartment complex talked about lately. So much so that they’d been making book on who was next.
“But what about your present?” Tally asked. “You don’t want me to get you a Christmas present.”
“You want to get me a present. A gun would be present enough for me.”
Tally removed his fingers from his face. He turned to his friend and said, “You’re not afraid you’ll shoot yourself?”
“I won’t shoot myself. I’ve been practicing.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think this robbery business is a good idea.”
“What other choice do we have,” Jan said. “They cut our social security. My husband’s pension isn’t enough for one. Much less two. And we can’t get a job. Who’s going to hire a seventy-year-old.”
“We could play the lottery,” Tally said hopeful.
“That’s throwing good money after bad. No, it’s a robbery or nothing.”
“Okay,” Tally gave in. “I’ll get the gun.”
“Don’t forget the bullets.”
“Bullets? What are we going to do with bullets?”
Jan shook her head in frustration. “They’re for the gun. You know. In case we have to shoot it.”
“We can’t shoot it. We’ll hurt someone. And they might shoot back.”
“I know. I know. And that someone might be one of us. If we shoot one of us, we’ll leave them behind. It’s a win-win.”
“A win-win?” There was anger creeping into Tally’s voice.
“Yes. If they die, then they won’t have to worry about getting less on social security. If they live, they’ll get good medical care and free room and board.”
“They’ll get prison.”
“That’s what I said,” Jan explained. “Free room and board.”
Tally stood up and said, “Okay. I’ll get the bullets. What else was I supposed to get?”
“The gun.” Jan said, frustrated.
“What kind of gun do you want?”
“Any gun will do. Just make sure the bullets match the gun.”
“Bullets have to match a gun?” Tally shook his head. “I’ll never remember all this. I’m going home and take a nap.”
Jan thought about things for a moment, then she stood up. “All this planning is making me tired too.”
As the old couple walked away, the ducks excitedly started quacking. Someone should have reminded the couple. Tell a duck a secret and they will quack it all over the place.
Joe Duck said to Maggie Duck, “Geez, these humans are crazy.”
“You’re telling me,” Maggie said. “Don’t they know they can sleep in the park for free. And people will throw food to them.”
“So should we tell the police?”
“About what?” Maggie Duck asked.
“Boy, you sure are getting forgetful. About the robbery.”
Maggie answered, “Yeah. Let’s tell the police. But first we have to get the quack-so-ologist to translate for us.”
Joe Duck turned to Maggie. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell the cops. Maybe we should tell the bank.”
“What? And not get paid?”
Joe Duck said, “Yes, but I am tired of being paid chicken feed.”