A robbery in Devou Park was foiled yesterday when the intended victim pulled a concealed weapon and shot his assailant. Police said the man who did the shooting was licensed to carry the handgun and that he'd been in the park jogging. Tristate news story, Aug. 20, 1999
I was on point as the jogging squadron I commanded approached the duck pond. I didn't like what I saw.
There, bobbing on the glass-still surface of the water, were ducks. But not just ducks. Lots of ducks. More than usual. So many more. And these particular ducks all Pekings, I couldn't help noticing looked dog-tired. Edgy. Unpredictable.
I think my whole squad Welch, Tony, Rico, Racing Bear, Saul, Megan, plus the twins, Pokey and The Guy Who Looks Just Like Pokey sensed the birds could spook at any second. That before we knew it, those refugees from a French rotisserie would be in the air and have us under attack, dropping their filthy intestinal payloads on every man Jack (and woman Jacqueline) of us.
But we'd come too far together to let that happen.
So, still about 50 meters from the pond's edge but closing fast, I signaled for Tony, Rico, Megan and Pokey to take the left flank, while the rest of us moved to the right. We all instinctively drew our weapons from the spandex holsters under our sweats and took them off safety. It was then that Fate played its trump card.
Before we could get in position, Saul's gun got caught up in the wires running from his Walkman to his headphones, causing him to accidentally fire. In an instantaneous squall of feathers and quacks, the ducks took to the sky, straining to gain altitude, discharging their terrible freight as they rose. The bastards had us.
Now, probably every jogger, runner, biker or Rollerblader who's ever ventured into the verdant combat zones the politicians all call "public parks" has been in a situation like this. On the line. At risk. In harm's way. For anyone who has, you know there's only one thing to do: Start shooting. Then shoot some more. After all, soldier, that's why we're running with weapons in the first place, isn't it? We wouldn't exercise with heat unless we were fully hell, overly prepared to use it. It's like the old saying: Exercise is the key to good health, but a gun will keep you healthy to exercise another day.
So, jogging in place, trying like the devil to keep our heart rates in the target zone, the whole squad opened fire. It was loud. It was long. It was downy. But not until the guns and beaks fell silent did I witness the cost of our bloody engagement. In addition to a heavy staining all around, Pokey had taken a falling Daffy to the head and was wandering, dazed, away from the battlefield at a slower-than-10-minute per mile pace. It was then that my troops, as a unit, turned from the killing pond. Together, without a word, we began to trot behind Pokey. We knew it was up to us to see him safely out of the park. Or, by God, die trying.