10-19-2011, 07:01 PM
"Congratulations, Criss," JD said. "It's septuplets."
"So, you gonna pass out cigars or something?" Costa joked.
Criss looked up at his brothers. "Ha, ha, very funny," he deadpanned. "And you know I hate cigars."
Suddenly, Hammie, Criss' cat, leapt up onto the arm of the overstuffed chair to see what his owner was so interested in. Criss reached out to pet him. "Hey, Hammie," he cooed. "Looks like you got yourself some new siblings."
Hammie stared down at the peeping balls of fluff, their down just beginning to dry out, and growled in his throat. "I think Hammie's jealous," said JD.
"I think Hammie's hungry," Costa said.
Criss felt a needleprick of fear in the back of his mind. He had seen his cat stalk small lizards and the occasional bird around the estate; the six helpless ducklings sitting in the makeshift nest were appetizers for him. He didn't want to get rid of Hammie, of course, but he felt responsible for the six little lives bundled in his t-shirt on the chair. He knew he had to do something, and fast. But what?
JD divined Criss' predicament. "I really think you should call someone," he advised. "I'm sure there's a wildlife preserve or something willing to take them in."
Criss turned to his brother. "Yeah? Like where?"
"I dunno," JD replied, shrugging. "Go online and Google it."
Criss rose and turned to go to his office. The minute he was away from the nest, however, the peeping grew louder, more frantic. He returned quickly and knelt down by the chair again. "Hey, it's okay, little guys," he crooned affectionatly. "I'll be gone for just a second. I'll be right back, I promise."
He stood up again to go to his office. Again, the frantic peeping. "What's the matter, guys?" he asked the ducklings. "What are you afraid of? It's okay, I'm just gonna go to the office for a minute."
The peeping continued. Criss glanced at Hammie. Suddenly he understood. "Oh, I get it--you're afraid Hammie's gonna eat you up." He picked up his cat. "There," he said. "I'll just take him with me, and you won't have to worry anymore." He stroked the cat's head. "C'mon, Hammie, let's go."
While the danger posed by Hammie had been averted, the peeping still continued. "What?" Criss cried out in exasperation. "What's the matter with you guys, huh?"
Costa tapped Criss on the shoulder. "I think they're going through separation anxiety disorder," he said.
"Well, I'm no naturalist, but I read somewhere that when ducklings hatch, the first thing they see move, they think it's Mom. You saw them hatch, they saw you, so..."
Criss dropped Hammie as the awful truth sank in. "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You mean to tell me they think I'm their mother?"
Costa tried to suppress a laugh. "Yeah, that's just about the size of it."
JD could not hold back his own laughter, but let it out in fits and spurts. "Oh, my God!" he chortled. "Oh, my God! Criss is a mother! Oh, God, wait'll everybody hears about this!"
Criss' face burned from embarrassment. "God, this is just what I need," he grumbled.
The peeping grew even more frantic. Criss turned to see Hammie on the arm of the chair, crouched in attack mode over the nest. "Hammie, no!" he shouted as he lunged toward his cat. "Get away from those ducklings!
He grabbed Hammie and whisked him away from the nest. "Don't you ever go near those ducklings again, do you hear me?" he scolded the cat. "They're not for you to eat, understand?"
Hammie glared at Criss, angry at having been deprived of his prey. Criss handed Hammie over to Costa and returned to the nest. "It's okay, guys," he reassured them. "I won't let anything happen to you."
The peeping quieted down immediatly. JD looked at Costa. "Maternal instinct," he joked. "There's no fighting it."