Mass Shooting at The Duck Park by Oba Olaniyi
The birds are harassing me. I just want to eat my cheese-its and watch the water but someone— lots of someones –– taught them that what’s in the bag will soon be theirs. Now, they’re looking at me with intent. They keep moving closer. I know what they want, but the internet said I’m not supposed to give it to them. It’s gonna sit in their stomachs and soak up water and take up space and when it’s time for goji berries and kale and Vitamins A thru K there won’t be any room left. The cheese-its are doing the very same to me.
I finish the bag. I might be brave for taking this caloric bullet on behalf of these already very large waterfowl. I don’t think birds should be this big. At home, if they were people, we would blame this on the hormones in the milk. A woman with a large bag draws their attention. She feeds them, and not only do I know what and who to blame this on— I’m safe now.
I’ve left myself with only crumbs. I watch the birds and entertain the idea that I could, through the power of proximity and pointed eye contact, bully this woman away from her kettle corn. The internet must not mean as much to her. She watches the feeding frenzy and it amuses her in a way that makes me look at the size of her smile and the size of her bag and wonder, if not for the flock, if she’d be able to finish it all. If not, then my real question— if she’d have someone to finish it with her. I look to the clouds as a palate cleanser.
These clouds, desert clouds, lack the thing that makes clouds. This sky doesn’t hold anything that might inspire religion, not a bearded old man, not a tortoise. At best, the spirit of southern Californian clouds is Midwestern. Instead of Grecian facial hair, you see the guy from your high school that now works the cash register at Casey’s, and his twenty upper lip and chin hairs being milked for all they’re worth. Back to earth.
The water is black. I don’t think it started that way. The city blew their wad on scary big ducks so the upkeep budget on this pond is zilch. Rather than blue tile or aquatic plants, seven inches of bird shit decorate the floor. Kettle corn, brioche and honey mustard pretzels atrophy from salty-sweet-and-buttery to acid-acrid-and-tarry-black. Where shit isn’t, algae is, feeding off the worst iteration of formerly noble grains and trans fats. I imagine the water deeper than it must be and imagine myself in it. I tread water to avoid what are now fathoms upon fathoms of shit and algae. She says hello to me.
This is easy. The clouds seem farther along in their puberty. She just wants a picture with the ducks. I oblige and it turns out I can talk. I speak so well I find myself in a little Colombian restaurant, drinking limonada de coco and smiling when she suggests that this drink was made to have a little or a lot of rum in it because I thought the very same thing the first time I had it. Our thoughts continue running tandem, up a mountain into the air and then back down in unison, landing on a mattress I raised off the floor just because I knew she would come eventually. It’s time to put the tip in but I look at her and I’m worried one of us is going to sneeze.
“AhChoo!” It’s her! Not me.
It’s hard to play Mr. and Mrs. Jones with sputum on your face, isn’t it? A birds-eye-view of my half-hard dick provides a neutral response, so I finish toweling off and go back to her. When we’re fucking I’m just thinking about what this would look like under blacklight. I don’t know if I’m the night sky or tiger stripes. She might have more in the chamber. This time she could hack up pieces of lung and that could look like anything. Before I come, those big fucking ducks return, and they stand around the bed like extras on a
thoroughly unethical porn set. She asks me how much longer I’ll be and it’s a hard one to call. The birds are harassing me. Hopefully I can come first. Back to earth.
Oba Olaniyi is a writer, artist, comedian, and the only multiracial person to ever set foot in Iowa.
@o.laniyi (instagram) / @mixedracepapi (twitter)