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Birney Imes: Tony proves his mettle


Birney Imes



The story of a skirmish between a hawk and a duck shouldn't be all that difficult to tell. Now consider the duck belongs to a Thai man who speaks broken English and lives in east Columbus, that almost everyone in the story has two names, and the tale begins with a bet on a golf game where the loser will cook a duck for the victor.  


Take the duck, Tony, who is called Mr. Ugh by a next door neighbor, whose name is Mother or Trapai Harris, depending on who's talking. The duck's owner's name is Sao, but he answers to Joe. Tony, or Mr. Ugh, was purchased from a man Joe's wife calls Mr. Rooster, but who opens mail addressed to Clifton Outlaw. Joe's wife is named Saowanee (pronounced like the college and the river), but goes by Pookie. See what I mean? 


The particulars of the wager are unclear, but Joe won the match and for his part bought a duck from Mr. Rooster. Pookie calls Mr. Rooster Mr. Rooster because she occasionally buys eggs from him. For his part, Mr. Rooster, who bought four ducks at the behest of his wife who wanted to "see what they were like" was happy to part with Tony. "They kept up too much noise for me," Outlaw said in a phone interview Thursday night. The loser of the wager, a friend of Joe's who he refers to as an Asian redneck, was obligated to kill the duck and cook it for Joe. 


But Joe, whose formative years were spent in the kitchen of a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, would have none of it. He took the duck home and gave him a name and a place in his backyard with his black Lab, Swart. If the video on Pookie's point-and-shoot is any indication, Swart and Tony get along famously.  


But something was missing. Joe, who left the monastery that was his home at 23, chiefly because he realized the celibate life was not for him, thought the same might be the case for Tony. 


So he made a homemade poster bearing a picture of Tony with the following caption: "Handsome duck (Tony) looking for a nice female duck. If interested, call me (and then a phone number)." He then taped the poster to the door of the restaurant he and Pookie own. 


Seeing Tony's picture, you have to agree with Joe. Handsome though he may be, no female ducks applied. 


A week ago Joe and Pookie took matters in their own hands. They had read in the paper something about a farmers' market somewhere between here and Jackson. There they bought two female ducks and six chickens to add to their backyard menagerie. 


The hawk struck Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. 


Next-door neighbor Lloyd Harris, who as far as we know has only one name, heard the ruckus. So did Joe, who ran out the back door barefoot only to find that handsome Tony had the hawk by its throat in a death grip. 


Joe separated the two and put the unconscious hawk in a storage room. He took Tony, who sustained a leg injury, to a nearby vet who only works on dogs and cats. The vet suggested Joe take Tony over to the vet school at Mississippi State, which he planned to do the next day. 


By Thursday the hawk had regained consciousness and Tony was better. Joe released the hawk and decided against the trip to the vet school. 


Reached Saturday evening at her restaurant, Pookie said Tony is much better. I'd be surprised if we hear from the hawk again. 


Birney Imes is the publisher of The Dispatch. Email him at [email protected] 



Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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