The semesters wane and students move in and out of their apartments. Such is the cycle of life in the transitory, single, preparatory existence college students lead. In this particular semester change, being the end of the winter semester before the spring term began, I had two roommates moving out. They had lived in that apartment for two years and after a few months of me being there now felt compelled to seek greener pastures. So they were packing up their considerable belongings and somewhere in the bustle there appeared a duck.
It looked something like this
…only it was made of orange plastic. We all assumed it belonged to someone else and it took months before the current story was revealed, apparently the duck was left on our doorstep anonymously. The most hilarious part of the duck, aside from the mere fact of it’s existence, was a note left on the bottom of the duck and covered in clear plastic tape which stated “If found please return to Cecil Samuelson” or something along those lines. That is how the orange decoy duck came to be called Cecil the duck.
One day, four of us were restless and noticed the duck sitting on our counter. As nothing had been determined about the duck for several weeks we decided to float it down a new water feature on the southern hill of campus. The water feature had a nice flow to it and abundant live ducks and bridges. Cecil was a champion floater, easily beating back rocks and eddies to make his progress down the stream. Everything went well until we got to the largest bridge. It consisted of the bike ramp that climbs the hill. The water goes down a culvert that is some 30 feet long and somewhat small. We debated a little too long whether the duck would fit or not and Cecil determined to discover for himself. We waited and waited but he never came out of the culvert. Anther group of restless coeds were floating a paper boat named Casper. Soon Casper had also become lodged in the culvert and we all waited impatiently for the brave travelers to beat back the powers of darkness and return to the light. Nothing came.
We mourned greatly the loss of what had quickly become iconic in our minds. I returned a few days later to see what I could see. A piece of paper was floating in the stream which I fished out and discovered the word “Casper” scrawled over the bow of the folded boat. I fished it out to show to my comrades. I was infected with an idea after that. I considered and planned and thought about what it would take to release Cecil from his dark watery prison. I tried damming the river but it didn’t work. I finally decided there was only one way to rescue the lost duck, go in after him.
It seemed that something always came up. Classes or soccer games or sabbath would interrupt all efforts. A fear of discovery for what would surely be pegged as trespassing discouraged others. Weeks passed and Cecil remain in obscurity. But there was something special about this duck, he had something in common with a certain destroyed ring of power, he wanted to be found.
A boy named Jason was talking around campus one day and passed by the campus stream near his house. floating, upside down, at the end of the stream was a bright orange duck tagged as property of the BYU president. The irony of this was that Jason was not only interested in the duck, but he had created it. rewind 5 months and you get Jason designing and building a plastic duck for a class. After the class he determined to place the duck in the botany pond. Sometime near Christmas someone fished the duck out of that pond and there lies the biggest gap in our memory. Somehow the duck got from the botany pond and onto our doorstep. The creator fished out Cecil and took him home where he established his new home on the balcony of Jason’s apartment.
That is when an old roommate, who knew of the duck as he had been as confused by its appearance and presence as we all had been, was walking to his apartment in that same complex and noticed the orange duck on the balcony. Cecil was saved. A few text messages and I was borrowing the duck from the owner/creator. A few moments later I was crawling in the infamous stream and culvert and posing for a few pictures. The pictures were sent to precisely the right people and the story went out that Riley had crawled through a wet, dark culvert to rescue a plastic duck.
Unfortunately I did eventually have to return the duck to Jason. The truth had to come out although the mere fact that the duck ever showed up in our lives again is nothing short of a miracle. With some difficulty I wrested the duck from his adoring fans and returned him to his real home in Monticello. I can only hope that they treat him with the same care and civility that Cecil received while he lived here at park plaza. Maybe I will take that manufacturing class someday with the sole intent of making my own construction orange duck.