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A RIGHT PAIR by Rick Haynes

A walk in the cool of the morning is always welcoming, as long as the amount of Raki eagerly sipped the night before hadn’t affected the brain cells too much.

At eight am Kalyves beach was empty apart from the rows of sun beds. Each taverna had used different colours for the beds and matching sunshades, and most allowed free access, but woe betide any holiday maker that relaxes on one, and purchases a drink from the enemy next door.

Someone had been up very early for the sand had been carefully raked and it looked like one unblemished beige carpet stretching into the distance. I could see the blue and white pennant - certifying the honour of being a blue flag beach - trying hard to raise a smile in the still air.

Plunging my whole body into the water seemed to wash away any cares that still lingered from last night. I enjoyed the feeling as I swam back and forth. At last I emerged, dried myself off, and took a deep breath. I knew I should have stood upright for a minute or two in the deeper waters, as now my body was telling me to move and relieve myself.

I shuddered with the thought, my brain already trying to tighten up my nostrils as I headed towards the hole in the ground the local council dared to call a public toilet. There were four steps up to the open door and a long ramp for wheelchair users at a ninety degree right angle.

The reek greeted me several metres away and the first flies had arrived, but my bladder told me that I had no choice. I walked up the ramp. The two cubicles - with doors that wouldn’t lock and only partially closed - loomed ever closer. I took a peek inside. Dark stains adorned the floors. I viewed the two holes in the ground complete with their adjacent foot wells etched into the ceramic covering. Everything here was stained with filth. I’ve seen broken and rusty oil tanks with lesser shades of dark brown. The word disinfectant came to mind but I doubted that cleansing agent had ever been used.

How this area could ever be given a blue flag certificate with such a disgusting toilet was beyond my comprehension.

Yet, what could I do? The call of nature was too strong.

I wanted to turn and run away but knew I’d never make it to the loo of the nearest taverna. Readying myself in the open doorway I took a deep breath. I’d be in and out in a flash – I had to be.

But something moved on the edge of my periphery and I slowly turned. Two large Muscovy ducks were nibbling at some bright green grass at the bottom of the steps. I looked closer and on seeing a waste pipe dripping filthy water nearby, I had my answer. Good luck my friends, I thought, you are braver than me eating and drinking anything contaminated with that muck. Yet, I had to admit that, perhaps, they would grace any dinner table. Roast duck came to mind. I salivated.

Turning around I felt like an idiot at a sewage farm for who would want to eat anything feeding on raw effluent? I ignored the ducks on the ramp, turned around, and walked in. The stench hit me like a perfume of purest poo.

I did what my body implored me to do and let out a long sigh of relief. Getting out was all that mattered for my nostrils seemed to be filling up. My hands needed washing, but I didn’t realise that even something that simple would be an event to cherish.

Someone had firmly fixed a long length of hose to the tap and I didn’t have the tools to remove it so I searched for the open end. Needless to say it was untidily curled in one corner of the bog, and with so much hosepipe, I couldn’t see the open end. Switching on the water did the trick but the water pressure must have been really high. I was so glad that I hadn’t dressed as I began my dance with the gyrating water snake. If a hose could cause so much trouble I shuddered to think of anyone grabbing hold of a giant anaconda, but then again I wouldn’t be drenched.

Turning the water off saw the hose return to its normal benign self but I still gave it a good kick. Nothing soaks me and gets away with it.

‘Time to go,’ I said to myself confidently as I turned to depart.

I stopped dead in my tracks for two mighty birds had entered the door of the cesspit behind me and were now staring at me.

“Bloody hell,” I shouted. With beaks that size I could lose my manhood in a flash and I really didn’t like the way the female edged ever closer. She definitely had evil intent in one eye, maybe both, but looking side on I only saw the one and that scared the hell out of me.

Be confident, be brave and be bold, I thought. I tried to move towards safety but she bared my path and hissed. In such a confined space it sounded deafening, particularly as she now spread her wings and went for me. Oh yes, Mrs. Duck attacked big time, forcing me backwards.

Mixed feelings ran through me but I was bloody glad to be standing behind that cubicle door now, even in an effluent rich sewage farm.

I learnt over the hole in the ground with one hand over my nose, and yelled at my wife through the open window. I explained my predicament. It didn’t take long before the tears fell down her face. I shouted angrily, urging her to do something, anything to help.

Eventually her laughing ceased and she did.

She took a number of photos - me trying hard to get out - the two ducks determined to keep me in. Her explanation of having a good laugh did nothing to assuage my trepidation.

Maybe Mrs. Beaky had understood my words about dinner. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have shouted, ‘You’ll look great on a plate with some nice plum sauce, birdie.’

But how stupid of me to think that, for after all she would only understand Greek, wouldn’t she?

Eventually my beloved decided that she had taken enough pictures, so she moved off to check the ducks. It didn’t take her long to return to my prison window.

“Husband, you’ll be able to leave any minute soon.”

“How do you know? How come they’re ignoring you?” I shouted as a felt a hot flush rise up from my neck.

“Simple. With so much fresh water coming out of that hose the two ducks only wanted a drink and you, my lovely idiot, stood in their way.”

“But, but, they were some way outside. They couldn’t see the water.” My voice faded away.

“Of course they didn’t see the water but they could clearly smell it and with so little around in this heat, you’d probably have to shoot them from joining in your water fun.” She pointed at my soaked body, laughed once more, and beckoned me to leave.

How can you leave me stuck in my vile prison all alone, I thought? The word divorce definitely flashed through my mind. I wrung my hands together, thought of all possibilities and forced myself to act. Once more I peeked around the cubicle door, held my hands together as I uttered a short prayer, and watched for an opening. I guessed that these ducks must have a blind spot somewhere and all I had to do was find it.

The two ducks were outside, so maybe now I could make a break from my stink-hole?

I walked onto the ramp and readied myself to run off as fast as I could. It was tight but I felt I could chance it.

Yet as soon as I moved, two huge wings bared my way as the female turned and hissed at me once more. Her mate was at the bottom of the steps and she had been making her way slowly down the ramp. Clearly she would not be hurried and he knew it, for his weary eyes looked up at me as if it say, ‘Don’t take a chance matey, you’ll only regret it.’ I could see her droppings, mucky brown, mostly fresh and soft, all giving off a smell akin to rotting vegetable matter.

I could see the tears falling from my wife’s eyes once more, her hands trying to keep her mouth from sniggering … too much.

Luckily, no one else was around. But perhaps if they had been my prison guards would have been shooed away by now?

Once dear Lady Muck had left the ramp I inhaled deeply and took my chances. I guessed six strides would do it so I ran. But she had turned back, spreading her wings like a giant fan, blocking the lower end of the decline. Jumping high in the air should have been enough but her parting shot of an open beak caused me to stumble, right into fresh duck poo.

Her work done, Lady Muscovy disdainfully turned away. I took a last look in her direction, just in case, and moved to the beach shower. As I washed the poo off my body my wife walked over.

“Learn your lesson husband. Never rush a lady duck, because her bite is so much worse than her bark.”


“And remember, duck poo sticks better than Velcro.”

With the stench of the toilet refuse wafting on the wind, and the reek of one Muscovy duck all over me, even I had to laugh at that truism.

Author’s note.

This is essentially a true tale. On returning to Kalyves a few months later, the two ducks had parked themselves against the front door of my hire car, refusing me access. It’s clear to me that ducks do have a long memory, especially the one and only Lady Muck.

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