When I was about 6 years old, I lived in Michigan in this nice little house on a lake. It was absolutely beautiful and I loved it. One of the things I liked the most about it was that there were swans, geese and ducks that would, on occasion; frequent the lake and my family would get in this dinky rowboat and paddle over to them. The fowl would then swim over to us and would let us pet them. Which was pretty awesome, because for a 6 year old; that was about as close to becoming a Beastmaster as you’ll get. That or riding your dog around the living room, hoping he doesn’t bite your fucking arm off.
In any case, we did this about once a month or so and one day; I really wanted to go feed the birds, so I ambled up to my mom while she was getting ready to start dinner and asked if I could. She gave me a loaf of old bread and sent me on my way.
I was so excited! For the first time ever I got to feed the birds by myself! As I pulled chunk after chunk of old, moldy bread I imagined me and the birds going on adventures, smiting the avian version of Skeletor and saving Eternia.
More bread drifted lazily on the water as more and more wildlife drifted to the edge of the lake.
Yep, just me and my armada of waterfowl who all know the mysterious art of ninjitsu (which in my 6 year old expert understanding consisted of a lot of jumping, eating pizza and living in a sewer while possibly riding a skateboard).
The swans, geese and ducks are now actively attacking one another; stealing bits of soggy bread from their disease ridden beaks, often taking whole feathers with them as they do.
That’s right just me, Swanzor, Ducktacular and Young Geesy (I wasn’t a terribly clever 6 year old) against the amassed evil hordes of everything I was scared of: spiders, large dogs, cats that had bits of hair missing, clowns, midgets, zombies, vampires, werewolves with bits of hair also missing, old people and alligators. Doing righteous battle from our tree fort.
I reach the last of the bag and realize I have no more bread to give, that the fantasy I was running in my head is over. Reality dawns back on me as I looked into the black, madness filled eyes of 20+ birds overflowing with carbohydrates and murder. I think an unevolved part of my brain, some prehistoric caveman that used to howl at the dark realized just how fucked I was at that point.
So I handled it just like any terrified six year old would. I took a deep, steadying breath and stared the swans in their beady eyes and said, “Sorry guys, no more bread.” Of course, since swans are the most regal and classy of birds; second only to the majestic peacock they would understand this and gather their friends and all drift lazily away.
The swan waddled up to me, all the other birds in tow; like ripples on the very lake they came out of.
It stopped just short of my nose.
We’re at eye level. I can see the mist coming from its beak. They are a lot uglier up close.
It arches its head back a few inches and lets out a barking noise. Letting the other animals know that, since they can’t have anymore bread; they’ll have to settle for my tender flesh.
The swan head butts me, right between the eyes and comes back with a bit of my skin.
I panicked and began to run up the hill to our home. Dodging the tire swing, and pushing it behind me. I heard a loud ‘OOF’ as a goose got knocked back into three ducks from that vulcanized projectile. Unfortunately, for me; doing this slowed me down just enough to have the other goose land on me and start tearing into my clothes and skin; getting about five or ten bites in before I was able to disentangle the feathered monster.
I threw open the sliding glass door and tumbled into the kitchen, just barely managing to slide the door shut as I collapsed in a bleeding, tattered puddle. My mom immediately drew her attention on me, “What the fu-” and is promptly interrupted by the staccato beat of several kinds of waterfowl slamming against the clear glass window.
“ck?”. It was at that point that my mother really saw what happened and put it all together. Since then, I have heard stories about parents; terrified for the safety of their children lifting 2 ton cars or running way past what is normally considered ‘possible’, but I had never heard of a parent being filled with murderous rage/hunger pangs like she was.
I watched in awe as she closed her eyes and took the same deep, steadying breath while very calmly picking up the rolling pin she was using.
Checked it for weight, balance and heft.
Looked at the empty baking pan.
Looked at the swans.
Looked back one more time at the baking pan.
I watched the glass door open and in the same, fluid movement; saw her bring the rolling pin up and swiftly down on the nearest swans head. Killing it instantly with the force.
I was glued to the scene.
She picked up the now deceased swan by its feet and bludgeoned the other swan.
This scene lasted about 3 minutes. Each hit punctuated with the wet thud of bird against bird as well as the equivalent of avian screams of terror at this monster as the other waterfowl ran/waddled to the relative safety of the lake.
By the time it was all over the backyard was filled with slowly drifting feathers; my mother in the center of it all. Blandly holding two swans by the neck.
I am rapt with amazement, my eyes following her as she turns; bored and walks back into the home. By this point, my dad had come home and sees my mother with two dead swans, me in the kitchen; covered in blood and tattered clothes.
“What the-why did you kill those swans?!”
And to this day, my mothers matter of fact reply still sticks with me. When I wonder what it would be like to be an action hero, coolly walking from an explosion or about to deliver some ass-kicking retort; I hear her voice.
“They mate for life, right?”
It was at that very moment, that I learned of my moms secret hobby of being a beastmaster.