“Wua,” Bob said as waved his arms back and forth.
“Wa, ha, cha, wau, hu!” Bob ranted as he spun around with his arm flailing wildly and kicked at the air.
“Hiya!” Bob jumped toward Woodruff with a chopping arm motion and stopped just short of Woodruff’s neck. Woodruff reached up slowly and gently pushed Bob’s hand away.
“Come on, Woodruff, I thought you said you wanted to learn karate.”
“And what makes you qualified to teach me karate.”
“A coupon for three free lessons at Sensei Tom’s Dojo says I’m qualified. Plus, I’ve seen Karate Kid fifty-three times.”
Bob raised his arms to the side, above his shoulders, and stood on one leg with his knee toward Woodruff.
“Here in the park, in competition, a man confronts you…”
Woodruff grabbed hold of Bob’s dangling foot and pushed it up, sending Bob crashing to the ground on his rear end.
“Hey,” Bob protested. “I wasn’t ready.”
Bob came to his feet and brushed at the grass that clung to his bum. He raised his arms above his shoulders and stood, again, on one leg.
“Try that ag…”
Woodruff flipped Bob’s shoe up with one hand and sent him careening backwards toward the pond, where several ducks looked up at the standoff.
“Quack, quack-quack-quack,” the ducks taunted.
“Real tough when you’re with your flock,” Bob said, as he came to his feet and lift his arms defiantly. “Come up and squawk that to my face. Man to duck.”
A woman, pushing a baby stroller, jogged by and shook her head at Bob. Woodruff covered his mouth to conceal a smile.
“Easy big fella, there’s just ducks.”
“They think they’re so cool with the webbed feet and their stupid bills. You’re not cool ducks!”
“They’re not laughing, Bob, that’s just the sound they make.”
“I’d like to see how funny they are when a crocodile shows up and bites their little faces off.”
“I don’t think there are crocodiles in the park.”
“There could be anything in those murky waters. Anything.”
“Okay, you’re right,” Woodruff said. “Calm down. Their bills are stupid.”
“All bills are stupid!”
“You’re totally right, now just breathe.”
Bob drew in and released a deep cleansing breath, as Woodruff patted him on the back.
“Sneak attack,” Bob said and spun around toward Woodruff, who calmly stepped to the side and tipped Bob over.
“You probably don’t want to announce your sneak attack.”
“You’re right,” Bob said, as he rested on all fours with his head hung down. “Sneak attack!”
Bob shouted as he lunged at Woodruff’s feet. Woodruff stepped back and shook his head.
“Why can’t I stop saying sneak attack?” Bob muttered.
“It’s okay,” Woodruff said. “We can do something else.”
“No!” Bob yelped. “You said you wanted to learn karate and I’m going to teach you ka-ra-tay.”
“Don’t say it like that.”
“You learned your first lesson, always be on your guard,” Bob continued. “And you got lucky in your defense of the crane kick…”
“Now I will teach you how to defend yourself against an ambush,” Bob said, walking in a circle with his hands behind his back.
“Don’t try and ambush me, Bob.”
“On the contrary, Grasshopper, it is you who will be ambushing me.”
Bob turned his back to Woodruff and faced the pond. Woodruff put his hand on his hips and cocked his head sideways.
“Come, Woodruff, attack me,” Bob yelled out toward the pond. Woodruff exhaled and moved closer to Bob. He pounced on Bob’s back and wrapped his arm around his neck. Bob struggled, unsuccessfully, to free himself as Woodruff guided him gently to his knees.
“Hey!” a jogger called from back by an old oak tree. “Let him go!”
“It’s okay, he’s teaching me karate.”
Bob still could not breathe, but gave a thumbs up to let the jogger know everything was all right.
“They have places for that,” the jogger said, before continuing his morning run.
“Do you give?”
“Mercy, is for the weak,” Bob gasped, as he slapped at Woodruff’s hands.
“You’re being ridiculous,” Woodruff said. “Just concede.”
Woodruff release his friend before he passed out. Bob panted for breath as he clutched his throat. When he collected himself they both stood up slowly.
“Now you’ve learned your second lesson,” Bob gasped through whispered breaths. “Stay calm and persevere in the face of defeat.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m serious,” Bob cleared his throat. “I could have taken you at any moment. Your approach was all wrong. Your stance left you open for a counter and your grip was weak.”
“Is that so?”
“And you could do better?”
“I’d have you incapacitated in three seconds flat.”
“Okay,” Woodruff said as he turned his back to Bob. “Show me.”
“Sneak attack,” Bob yelled and he leapt forward. Woodruff caught him by the arm and threw Bob in the air, over his shoulder. Bob came crashing down, face first on the ground. Woodruff quickly circled around and drove his knee into his spine as he pinned Bob’s arms behind him.
“3, 2, 1,” Woodruff counted. “I’m still waiting to be incapacitated.”
“Oh, you are about to be,” Bob grumbled with his face pressed to the grass. “Starting now!”
Bob thrashed his body back and forth but was unable to break Woodruff’s hold.
Bob bucked up and down but Woodruff held tight, like a cowboy riding a wild bronco.
“Can we be done with this now?”
“You wanna give up?” Bob asked. “I’m about to teach you a lesson.”
Woodruff plucked a blade of grass and wiggled it in Bob’s right ear.
“Aaaa!” Bob squealed and squirmed. “Stop it!”
“I’ll stop it when you submit.”
“I’d rather die!”
Woodruff wiggled the blade of grass in Bob’s nose and Bob screamed and flailed about beneath him. Out of nowhere a pink shoe stepped into view and a stream of liquid was shot into Woodruff’s face.
“Ah!” Woodruff yelled as he fell backwards off of Bob. “My eyes!”
“Back off, jerk!” a woman’s voiced yelled.
Bob looked up to see a woman, in pink tennis shoes with a matching jogging suit, standing over Woodruff with a can of pepper spray. Woodruff covered his eyes and rolled around in the grass.
“Are you all right?” the woman asked Bob.
“Uh, yeah,” Bob said, staring past the woman at his suffering friend.
“Did he hurt you?”
“Uh, no,” Bob said as she helped him to his feet. Bob looked down at the pepper spray.
“I carry this with me for creeps like this,” the woman said and kicked Woodruff in the side.
“I’m not a creep, I’m his friend,” Woodruff cried.
“I told you I was about to incapacitate you.”
“Wait, you know him?”
“I am teaching him ka-ra-tay.”
“I thought I was rescuing you.”
“Nonsense, I was in complete control,” Bob said. “All you did was disrupt a lesson with your can of cayenne.”
The woman pursed her lips and scowled at Bob. Before he could say another word she doused him with a stream of pepper spray as well.
“Ah!” Bob screamed. He fell to the ground next to Woodruff and rubbed his face furiously. “It got in my mouth!”
The woman jogged away, leaving Woodruff and Bob alone by the side of the pond. They sat in silence for several minutes listening to the ducks quack away from just beyond the shore.
“Stupid ducks,” Bob muttered.
“Can you see?”
“Just blurry water and grass.”
“Yeah, me too,” Woodruff said. “This stinks.”
“Now you have learned your final lesson.”
“Strike hard, strike first, beware of a woman with pepper spray.”
“That’s the wisest thing you’ve said all day.”
Bob squinted through tear-filled eyes as another round of quacking exploded from the flock in the pond.
“You hungry?” Bob asked.
“I could eat,” Woodruff replied as he stood up and brushed the grass from his backside. He helped Bob to his feet as Bob continued to stare at the quacking flock. “What are you in the mood for?”
“Peking duck!” Bob yelled. He dove headlong into the pond as the ducks scattered in every direction.
Woodruff looked down at his soaking wet friend, up to his shoulders in mud and water. The ducks flew up into the blue sky and continued their taunting calls.
“But we had Chinese last night,” Woodruff said.