All Your Ducks in a Row
Writer’s Digest prompt:
You’re in an epic pun off; whit is spewing out of your mouth and your opponent’s mouth with punishing purpose. What are some sweet puns you could use to really wipe the smile off your opponent’s face? Make sure not to frown on the worst of puns either—they’re all beautiful. Write this scene and battle of puns.
The two men stood behind their lecterns on the podium, trying not to stare at the bright lights. The heat from the lights was noticeable, and beads of sweat formed on each of their heads, some of it from the heat. The lights also meant the men could not well see the faces of the audience. But of course, neither betrayed their nervousness, just as their crisp suits betrayed no wrinkles. Arthur Pennington stood, as he always did, his hands lightly gripping either side of the podium, and a friendly smile displaying a set of perfect teeth. Opposite him on the stage, Albert McDermot flashed no teeth, but did display a slight crooked mischievous smile. Both men were running on adrenaline and anticipation.
Behind the moderator, a production assistant appeared and spoke to the two men on the podium and the moderator in front of them. “Alright, we’re back in five, four, three …” he said, counting down with his fingers as he spoke. The last two numbers he gestured silently.
The moderator looked at the cards in his hands, and then looking up at the camera in front of him. “And welcome back to our studio audience, misters McDermott and Pennington, and of course to our viewers at home. To briefly recap, both gentlemen have two points, and we now begin our fifth and final round. As you no doubt are aware, the third point wins. One side note, this is the first time in our six-year run that we’ve progressed to the fifth round. To be neck-and-neck after four rounds is indeed an exciting new precedent.” Then looking slightly above the camera, he addressed the men on the stage. “No matter who wins, both of you are indeed fine examples of what we look for in these proceedings.” On cue, the audience politely applauded. The moderator looked again at the camera.
“And from this point forward, we do ask the audience here in the UGI Auditorium for absolute silence.” The great room fell silent. These sorts of events were to be taken seriously. “And without further ado, let’s begin. Mister Pennington, you won the coin toss, and the category is…” He looked down to read the card, looked up again, and said,
Pennington raised his eyebrows and nodded appreciatively. “A good category for the final round,” he said, “It will really…fit the bill.” He looked over to McDermott, it was his opponent’s turn now.
“Ah,” he said, “good one. But you don’t need to shout. The folks at home will need to turn the volume down.”
“Sorry,” replied Pennington without hesitating, “I thought I was too quiet and needed to beak up.”
“You had that one ready pretty quick … are you sure you’re weren’t Peking at the category during the break?”
“Of course not, that would be fowl.”
“True, but some people quack up under pressure.”
“Pressure, no pressure, I can remain calm eider way.”
And then McDermott stammered. He had been planning on using “eider” also, but under Association rules, duplicates were not allowed. “ah, um, That’s…,” he started. His brain was furiously trying to come up with something for “feather,” but his focus was lost. He hesitated, and more than three seconds passed.
The buzzer sounded. McDermott had lost. Enraged, he screamed out, and pushed the lectern over. McDermott reached into his suit coat and pulled out a pistol. The moderator and the audience gasped collectively. “You stole my word! I can’t lose!” he yelled at Pennington, and fired three rounds.
As Pennington’s corpse fell to the floor, McDermott snickered. “I can’t lose, because,” he snickered again, “because I gave it my best…shot.”
The moderator looked at Pennington’s lifeless form, and then looked at McDermott.
“That…had nothing to do with ducks,” he said.