11-06-2011, 12:31 AM
"Okay, okay, Criss, just calm down," JD said. "We'll get Quackers out, don't you worry about it!"
"How??" Criss demanded frantically.
JD grasped Criss by the shoulders. "Just get a grip," he said firmly. "Take a deep breath and relax. Get yourself under control before you get the situation under control. That's what Dad always taught us, remember?"
Criss drew a lungful of air, forcing himself to relax. "Okay," he panted, "I'm good." He looked around. "Anyone got any ideas?"
"Hey, you're a magician," George said. "Why don't you levitate him out?"
"Funny, George," Criss muttered through gritted teeth, "real funny."
Suddenly, Doug snapped his fingers. "Hey! I got an idea! Wait here!"
He dashed back up the main aisle. Criss squatted next to the drainpipe. "Hang in there, Quackers!" he shouted down the drainpipe. "We're coming to get you!"
Doug returned with the hose Criss had used to fill the duck pool. "Okay, everybody out of the way," he said. "George, you go over to the faucet and turn on the water, medium pressure--I don't want 'im to drown."
George did as he was told. Doug stuck the end of the hose down the drainpipe. "What the hell are you doing?" Criss demanded hysterically.
"It's okay, Criss," Doug placated him. "I've got it under control."
Water gushed from the hose down the drainpipe. Criss found the flashlight and shone its beam down the pipe to where Quackers was still struggling to get out. Slowly, gradually, the water level rose, lifting the trapped duckling with it. Soon, there was a gush of water spilling out onto the floor, and out popped Quackers, completely unharmed. Criss and the crew cheered and applauded the successful rescue while Quackers flopped and waddled about on the wet floor as he tried to regain his bearings.
Criss threw his arms around Doug, almost sobbing with relief. "Dude! I so totally owe you!"
Doug patted Criss on the back. "It's okay, Criss," he murmured. "Don't sweat it."
He turned to George. "You can cut the water now, George," he said, "before you flood the place."
George dashed back to turn off the faucet. Criss released Doug from his embrace. "But tell me," he said, "how did you know what to do in the first place?"
Doug laughed awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, would you believe I saw it once on a Three Stooges short?" he explained. "Curley was working on a farm, and he saw something down a pipe, so he took a hose, filled it up, and out came this little duckling. When I saw Quackers down there, it just kinda clicked, you know?"
Criss shook his head in incredulity. "And to think people say the Three Stooges have no socially redeeming value!" he chuckled.
Joaquin stepped forward and handed Quackers to Criss. "Here's your little patito," he said, "safe and sound."
"Quackers!" Criss scooped the duckling and cuddled him close to his chest. "Thank God you're okay! I was so worried about you! We thought we were going to lose you, falling down that drain like that!" He turned to walk down the aisle. "C'mon, let's put you back in your carrier with your brothers and sisters."
"Uh, Criss?" George spoke up. "They're right there next to you."
Criss looked down and saw the other five ducklings huddled next to his foot. "They must've gotten out of the carrier when you went looking for Quackers," George said.
With a deep sigh of resignation, Criss set Quackers down to join the rest of the brood, then walked carefully back to the pool area. The ducklings trailed after him, quacking all the way, while the camera crew followed the ducklings with their lenses trained on their retreating backsides.
Criss secured the ducklings into the carriers, three to each, and secured the hatch. "It's okay, guys," he said. "I'll be back soon. Meanwhile, you just sit tight until I get back, okay?"
He positioned the carriers next to a radiator heater so the ducklings would keep warm from the circulating hot air. Once the ducklings had quieted down, he walked back up the main aisle to rejoin his crew. An intern was mopping up water from the floor with a rag mop and a bucket, while the puddle Doug had created slowly receded down the drain.
Criss stared at the hole in the floor. "Shouldn't that have a grating over it?" he wondered aloud, growing irritable by the minute. "I mean, why the hell was it open like that?"
He became agitated. "Didn't anyone realize how dangerous that is?" he fumed, almost yelling. "I damn near lost one of my ducks down there! Why the hell was that (bleeping) drain open in the first place? Huh?"
Again, JD grabbed Criss by the shoulders. "Criss, will you calm down--?"
Criss brushed his brother's arms away. "Leave me alone, will you? I'm fine, really I am. I just want to know why that drain was open, that's all."
"Well, you don't have to bite everybody's heads off."
"I'm not biting anyone's head's off!"
Suddenly, Criss realized he was shouting. "I'm sorry," he said in a ragged voice. "It's just that, well, when Quackers fell down that drain, I...well, I..."
JD drew his youngest brother to his side. "You were worried about him," he said. "You were worried because you loved him and didn't want him to come to any harm. You were willing to do anything to get him out of that drainpipe and bring him to safety, just like any concerned parent."
"I'm not his 'parent', JD," Criss protested. "A foster parent, maybe, but--"
"Christopher, I know you," JD said. "I know you better than anyone else in this room, save for Costa and George here. You've become attached to these little guys; you love them just like they were your own children. When Quackers fell down that pipe, you were all anxious and hysterical, pleading for anyone to rescue your child, just like any other parent would under the circumstances. No one wants to see their child in danger, not even you. Call it anything you want, but I say it's paternal instinct. I should know--I got a daughter of my own that I've worried about for almost eighteen years. If anything happened to Little Dimitra, I would be devastated."
He patted Criss on the back. "And now you know how Mom feels about your demonstrations," he added.
JD walked away. Criss stood there, stunned and bewildered over that last statement.