Ask the Archivist

By Spiney Norman — Revelwood Historian

Dear Spiney,

I’ve been through the Gnome Forest, I’ve gazed over the Sea of Grass, but I’ve never heard of "The Field of The Last Supper." So what exactly is this "Field of The Last Supper" thing anyway? How did it get its name?

Signed…

Befuddled in the North Pole
 
 

Dear Befuddled,

The Field of The Last Supper is an important place in Revelwood lore, and is located just North of the trail that runs between The Gnome Forest and Piney’s Cabin. It got its name because of the ducks. Sit down, fix your hat and spit out that elf. I’ll tell you the story.

Did you ever notice that you never see any ducks in Revelwood? You must admit, this is rather curious. Revelwood is conveniently located in the wetlands, between three major bodies of water.

Well, it wasn’t always that way. Why, not to long ago, you could hardly drive down Malone Road without hitting one or two of the little quackers, feathers flying everywhere, quite a sight. So you could imagine our shock when suddenly one afternoon, we discovered a note nailed to the Barn doors explaining that the Alliance of North American Weird Obnoxious Waterfowl (ANAWOW) Local #4428 was blacklisting Revelwood. They said we were unsafe. Although we were used to this kind of claim, this was the first time it had been leveled by birds. The note went on to say that it was unsafe for ducks because of hunters, pick up trucks, wandering drunks and Stonewall’s hat. The ANAWOW explained that from then on, they would fly the extra 45 miles around Revelwood and bring their business elsewhere. The note was signed by the ANAWOW president, Jimmy Hoffaduck. Jimmy was famous for his speech, "Give Me Cracked Corn, Or Give Me Death," and for inventing a rather tangy but pleasing Orange Béarnaise sauce.

Well, it was decided right then and there that Revelwood wasn’t going to take that kind of attitude from a bunch of ducks. After all, we were an Artisan’s Colony. Pompous was our middle name (or at least the IB’s middle name). Nobody was going to reject us unless we rejected them first. That’s just the way we are. Plus we kind of liked the ducks, feathers and all. They gave the place a sort of tranquil, artistic look. Rather like a cheap drug store calendar. So the decision was made to act.

We asked the Gnomes to arrange a meeting with the ANAWOW leadership and several key Revelwooders, and to serve as mediators in the negotiations. The location agreed upon was a field just North of the trail between The Gnome Forest and Piney’s Cabin. The three Revelwooders selected to represent the Artisan’s Colony were Stonewall, Ropus and Q. Now this occurred a very long time ago, when much of Revelwood was still unexplored. But the three were undaunted in their efforts, and when the day of the meeting arrived, they arrived in true Revelwood fashion. They were late.

As the three strode into the field, the full assembly of Gnomes and ducks met them. A rather unusual sight as you can imagine. The Gnome’s Grand Poobah (pronounced GRUNTBUGGLY in Gnomic), Theodore Gnome, opened the meeting. He made a rather long speech about how wonderful it was that two great groups could get together and resolve their differences in a civilized fashion and how supremely enthusiastic he was about our chances for success and blah, blah, blah. Then, after three cigarettes worth, he handed the floor (dirt?) over to Jimmy Hoffaduck, who, in a rather short speech, merely restated the ANAWOW’s concerns and subsequent blacklisting of Revelwood.

A hush fell over the crowd as Stonewall, Ropus and Q stepped forward. They explained that Revelwood felt it was being unduly blamed. Revelwood had nothing to do with the hunters. "Look around." Ropus explained. "You’re in a forest. Hunters traditionally lurk about in forests. It’s where the animals are. Rarely do you see hunters hunting in a bowling alley." Ropus continued. "Plus, if you didn’t insist on flying about in broad daylight, in neatly packed chevron formations, maniacally flapping, quacking about and generally making a grand hullabaloo, maybe you wouldn’t get shot at quite so much. Stonewall jumped in with something about hats and Orange Béarnaise sauce, but Q cut him off. "You see," said Q, "as much as we’d like to share in the blame, we really don’t think we can."

Jimmy Hoffaduck rose from his squatting position and waddled to the podium. "We …," (he paused for emphasis) "are ducks. And that is what ducks do!" The various flocks that make up Local 4428 went wild with agreement, flapping their applause and quacking a cacophony of cheers. There were feathers floating about everywhere. Stonewall stood there drooling, frantically grasping into mid air, trying to gather as many feathers as possible. Ropus was stunned by the response, unconsciously raising a fin in defense. Q quietly whistled to himself as a plan formed in his mind. Theodore Gnome raised his hands to try and calm the crowd of ducks. Eventually they quieted enough for Jimmy to continue. "Whether you accept the blame or not, you are still blacklisted." Again, the crowd erupted. Again, Theodore tried to quiet them down.

Finally, Q asked the Chair (stump) for a few moments to caucus. Together, the Revelwooders spoke quietly behind some nearby Cedar trees. After ten or so minutes, they emerged and asked to address the crowd. Theodore Gnome stepped away from the podium and Q took his place.

"As the president of the ANAWOW so clearly explained, ducks do… what ducks do. And it would be futile to try and change that." A murmur of consensus rolled through the flocks. "However," Q continued, "why not use that to your advantage? Since you instinctively fly in such tight formations, I propose you each carry a placard, so that when you are flying in formation, it creates a work of art." Several hundred inquisitive quacks shot out from the crowd. "You see," Q explained, "the hunters will be so astounded by the spectacle of flying art, that they’ll forget to shoot. Hell, even if they’re not astounded, the moment or two of delay it causes while the hunter watches the Mona Lisa heading South for the Winter will give you ample time to get out of range. Besides, this type of artistic expression is sure to win some sort of award at the next Revelwood Art Show.

The crowd went wild for a third time. Only this time it was in consent. Everyone knows that ducks consider themselves great artisans. They are always striking a pose in National Audubon Society calendars, greeting cards and appearing on various Saturday morning cartoons. Now here was a chance for them to put their artistic talents to work. Maybe even win an award or two. Until that time, no duck had ever won a major artistic award, with the exception of Donald Duck. And everyone knows he slept with the judges.

The ducks immediately began to discuss the merits of such a plan and agreed to try it. However, the question soon became, what art should they choose? There were the impressionist ducks that insisted that the proper use of pastels would set off their feathers in a most striking manner. There were the modern art ducks that claimed that by the time the hunters figured out what they were looking at, the ducks could be long gone. There was even a Picasso splinter group whom all the other ducks considered fatalists, because their art always looked like a duck after it had been already shot. However, the largest group of ducks comprised the classical art ducks, who themselves were split into the pre-Raphael and the post-Raphael factions.

The debate as to what art to use raged on all day and well into the night. Finally, an accord was reached, and the selection was made. The first art to be carried would be "The Last Supper." The classical ducks had won out, but in order to do so, they had to make huge concessions to all the other ducks. It was decided that the next day, the art would "take off" from that very field, and resolve the issue once and for all. That evening, a great celebration was held. The Gnomes catered the event and the Union paid for it. Somehow, the invoice was misplaced and the Gnomes have yet to get paid. That is why they will steal you blind if you’re not careful when you enter Gnome Forest.

At the quack of noon, the ducks assembled. Each held a placard with a small portion of the famous painting on it. Orders were quacked out and the majestic formation slowly rose from what is now known as The Field of the Last Supper, into the clear blue sky. However, as fate would have it, disaster struck a moment later. You see, nobody had taken into account the presence of Vern.

Vern McGimmley was a beer swilling, middle aged, overweight, balding, backhoe operating, alcoholic with bad skin, who never finished eighth grade. His only pleasure in life was to get the biggest, most powerful, nastiest looking shotgun he could find and obliterate small defenseless animals. He always gave the meat (whatever he could find of it) to selected people he called friends. The people of course, didn’t consider Vern as their friend. He was just this guy who showed up with freshly killed game. But Vern was oblivious to that.

As fate would have it, just that morning, Vern’s wife had left him for what Vern referred to as "one of them sonofabitch artsy fartsy poet types." Actually, the fellow was a Yellow Pages deliveryman, but even that was beyond Vern’s comprehension. Vern thought the strong use of yellow on the cover meant art. When Vern looked up and saw The Last Supper go flying by, all the hate and anger that he felt for an awfully cold and unfair world came boiling out, and Vern shot his waterfowl limit for the next three years.

Ironically, out of 137 ducks, only three survived. They were the two that were Judas Iscariot, and the one that was the bowl of olives (coincidence?).

Needless to say, the ANAWOW was seriously pissed. They immediately voted to permanently blacklist Revelwood anyway. As for Jimmy Hoffaduck, an unseen shooter somewhere on a nearby grassy knoll assassinated him, at the same moment Vern was shooting into the sky. The subsequent investigation by the ducks centered on Vern as the lone gunman. This, of course, lead to the magic bullet theory. But that is another story.

As it turns out, the ducks did in fact get the last laugh. When Vern shot all of those ducks, he figured he would have more friends than he had ever had before. So he threw a big party and invited them all. At the party, he met an exotic dancer named Orville. However, while eating duck with Orange Béarnaise sauce, Vern started to choke on a bone. Nobody would help him because, in truth, they really weren’t his friends. Just the people he gave dead animals to. As he lay there gasping for air, they robbed him. Not that there was much left to take, for his ex-wife had hired a vicious lawyer who had already taken most everything, except for the shotgun. Orville took that.

But that too, is another story.