Jay Bell, my good friend formerly of “Hotlanta,” and now of “Bradenton-fun-in-the-sun-baby-Florida,” doesn't like it when I exaggerate about his life.
“You never tell the truth,” he complained.
“You never tell the whole truth. You always – what's the word?”
“Yeah, embellish,” he said, “but I'm Jay Bell and that's enough. I don't need embellishing. I bet you couldn't tell the straight story even once. No Heather Boom Boom' McGills. None of that extra stuff.”
“How much do you want to bet?”
“Morris, I shouldn't have to bet. You should do it out of moral decency.”
“Yeah, you know, the stuff that got George Bush elected.”
“You know what I mean.”
So, out of moral decency and Christmas cheer, I offer the following unvarnished and – I hope – entertaining truth about 36-year-old Jay Wayne Bell, an Eagle Scout and all-around real person.
As you may know, Jay's place in Bradenton came complete with a duck, which he named Quack-Quack.
Well, somebody stole Jay Bell's duck.
“The neighbors did it,” he said.
He was right. His next door neighbors corralled Quack-Quack in their fenced-in back yard with three other ducks.
He considered freeing the duck, but the issue was complicated. Quack-Quack was not, by any official designation, Jay Bell's duck. He had no bill of sale. He'd never taken Quack-Quack to a veterinarian for a check-up. Nothing.
“I paid for a EXPLETIVE DELETED-load of food, though,” he said.
He wasn't exactly crying in his beer over the loss, but he was sweating the situation.
“I missed my duck,” he said.
Nature offered assistance in the form of a hurricane that almost, but not quite, flooded Jay Bell's house. The canal behind his home overflowed into his back yard and the neighbors' back yard. A breech was created in the fence, and Quack-Quack escaped, along with Boss, Baby and Mama Duck.
“I've got all of 'em demanding food,” he said. “When I came back from Thanksgiving, I didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. or so. Those ducks were at the sliding-glass door wanting to know, Where you been?'”
All four ducks have adopted Jay Bell's yard as their settlement. Boss has run off other ducks, as well as a cat and some kids who ventured into the yard.
Boss also went after Jay Bell.
“Only once,” he said. “We straightened that out right quick.”
Bell's still a bit worried, though. He's grown attached to his bird friends, and Christmas is fast approaching.
“The neighbors got those ducks for a reason,” he said.
“People eat Christmas duck, don't they?” I said.
“They won't eat my ducks,” he said. “I don't know what I'll do, but I'll do something.”
That, my friends, is the unvarnished truth about Jay Bell and his Christmas ducks.
“Yeah, it's about time you wrote something I could send to my mother,” he said.
M. Scott Morris is the Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org