Short Stories – Funny Stories

Roger's Humourous Stories from Australia and the World

Weekly Columns

Written By: Roger Crates
CONS, CUCKOOS AND COLD DUCKS    Audio Part 1     Audio Part 2
I love a good scam, not that I am dishonest, I am simply staggered by  the lengths some, even most, people seem willing to go to make some Moozolah, scratch, dough, the folding stuff or coin. 

I was jotting down some notes recently about my intense dislike for drug dealers who, for mine are the lowest of the low and wreak misery because they are stupid selfish brutes who even if they have some semblance of intelligence are too brutish and lazy to be part of the world most us wish to inhabit.  But that, as you know by now ‘is another story’.

Anyway as the words were forming in my head I started to think about how silly some people on the other side of the crime behave.  By this I mean the scammer is on one side of the ‘Gimme Gimme’ equation .  The other side is of course the Scammee who very often thinks he is pulling off a coup. 

Now here we may delve into the world of semantics.  The conman is  the bad guy in the eyes of the world and it seems the victim is the put upon innocent in all this money making business.  But is he?
I might refer you to several instances on these pages where the the line is much finer than most think.  I had this thought put into my consciousness one day, actually it was always there,  this anecdote is simply  the clearest expression of the thought.

I was sitting in a  club enjoying a solitary beer as I waited for my wife.  It was our local RSL Club, we lived in Mosman, Sydney at the time and Mosman is the epitome of the lower north shore, replete with a great deal of both old and new money.  Stockbroker territory this is. 
Now generally the Australian stockbroker bird is rarely seen in the Mosman RSL Club on Friday afternoons and to be honest, and I can be on occasion, the fellows I am about to introduce you too are probably not of the genus stockbroker bird but of a close cousin of the the genus ‘I’m all right jack’ bird often mistaken for a Raptor which is of course a bird of prey and easily mistaken in this case for a Velociraptor which is a genus of very nasty dinosaur with a signature cry of ‘It’s all perfectly legal’ 
The main prey for this horror is the suburban ‘Wannabe Pigeon’ a very common species it seems.


There I was waiting for Christine, blatantly eavesdropping on these two fellows when one says in a slightly softer voice than the one I heard describing his new Porschee, that’s’ Portiayaa with an A, Targa Portiayaa to you with the triple bypass pipes,  the anti locking hubcaps and racing ashtray, I think that is the model.

The air took on a subtle seriousness as he gently changed the subject to some serious bragging to his awed listener, not me of course I am not the kind to be awestruck by anti locking anything let alone hubcaps, I was after all merely an eavesdropper rather than a bona fide listener. 
“So I told my broker I’m in’ he said as my ears began fine tuning themselves to beam in on the diminished volume.
“The first season was a bust, flooded out, but they get two growing  seasons over there and there is some contractual thing where the  bloody locals don’t get paid if the crop fails, which is fine by me as I c an claim it all back and make a bloody killing at tax time.”
“I see” replied his awestruck friend, nodding.
‘Bloody killing all round”   “seems the company running the show has  an in with the local ‘warlord bloke’  he does the labour hire,  now I am  not saying I agree with slave labour or anything like that of course”
“of course” offered the rapt one.
“Still they do get a fair days pay for a fair days work when its all said  and done.  It is the custom to work during all daylight hours and they  get every second Sunday rest day to thank God in their local Church”

His voice dropped even lower as my stickybeak sound canals strained to hear the following. “I made five hundred percent in four months, and will clear about 30K  on the tax rebate and I’ve managed to bail on the Company as soon  as they offered me a special dividend about an extra 50k if I bought  in more capital next time round.  Do it again next time and Ill get a  Bentley. Bugger the Portiyaa, The bailout was to force the labour costs  down, next year, apparently the guys who run the holding company  cause some problem every couple of  years and do a forward buy two  crops ahead.  Poor bastards are so hungry, works every time.  No  problem as long as the Somali Interior Minister gets his cut or as he  put it at the Trade Mission in Maquarie Street the other day his  “Government Productivity Bonus. “

All this came out in an excited welter of words which left his face redder than before.  My face was also getting redder as I realised that people actually think this is the way to be, the way to go for a civilised person.  That stupid Porsche with the stupid sound sits in his garage on some leafy Mosman street while a children die in a place like Somalia, I did manage to suppress the urge to throw a left hook, and I really don’t know how I could be so clumsy to bump into their table and spilling beer everywhere accidentally into their Armani clad laps.
Ooh I am a bad boy.!

The Innocent Victim

Of course they say money is the root of all evil, add to that power and his little brother prestige which is why they want the money in the first place.

How many times have you seen the wailing and gnashing of teeth as the anguished investor looks down the barrel of the TV journalist’s camera outside some city building as they wail about how the Conman did me wrong,
“he offered me 500% return in three weeks and it was all perfectly  legal” as the journalist looks for the the opportunity to do some hard nosed reporting and she chases the bad guy up the street as he evades HIS Porsche (with iyaa sound).  If the poor wronged investor wasn’t a greedy piglet he wouldn’t have been involved in anything as improbable as a 500% return in three weeks or whatever. 

If you believe that, then little piglet maybe YOU can fly.  Here’s a tip that I live by, I don’t use any money I might have, to increase its worth  without creating something of value and I don’t mean just stocks and bonds etc,  that is simply another word for gambling and usury.  Some Jesus bloke rattled on about some practices which we seem to have forgotten in the dash for cash.   

The Cuckoo

Which brings us to the idea of a Cuckoo which is natures biggest avian confidence trick, and it is great because the Cuckoo wins all round and the victim, misses out in every way. 

What a rort!  Drop your egg in someone else’s basket….. err I mean nest and fly away knowing that some other honorable sucker bird, also called a pigeon will look after the resultant little raptor, as he eats all the other faux siblings food, the dutiful Mama or Papa parent bird brings home. 

Before the cuckoo fledges he shows his criminal side by tossing the rightful child out of the nest to die, eats the unknowing foster birds out of house and home, fowls the nest and flies off cuckooing like crazy because he got away with it. 

Like I said at the beginning, I like a can laugh at a good scam particularly when, and not in the cuckoo’s case, the loser is the real avaricious bird.

Now to address a rather less serious scam, concerning cuckoo behaviour which I delight in retelling here.

The Party Drink

Do you remember a wine called Cold Duck, come to think of it don’t admit it just remember it with a wry smile.   For those who don’t know it or haven”t heard of it or simply wish they didn’t remember it, Cold Duck was a bubbly ‘Sparkling Light Red’ wine from Kaiser Stuhl.  I can put the quotation marks in because I have the very bottle sitting in front of me as I write.

Now Cold Duck was extremely popular in the sixties with a great number of people who found the old Leibermilk a little old hat and tasted a bit like a sugary old hat at that.  So we replaced mothers little helper, there were courser names but I won’t admit to knowing them with a bubbly drop of cold Duck. 

A whole generation of up and coming Groovers drank the stuff and the sound of Cold Duck corks hitting cheap plastic light fittings was heard across the land every Saturday night.  Cold Duck soon became the marketeers dead duck and it was seen no more.  Some of those possibly less than discerning drinkers it is said, went straight toward the Grange Hermitage route to insobriety, some went downhill less than tastefully, with Passion Fruit Pop and others simply drowned in Rough Red or at least until the emergence of Chardonnay.  

Then in a dusty cupboard in suburban Arncliff in Sydney in 1996 a minor miracle occurred, I could have gilded the Lilly with the rest of the story and say it was in circulation all that time but I just can’t.

There it was and had waited its moment of glory for thirty five years under a kitchen sink cupboard no less.  We found it when my wife’s parents were selling their Arncliffe Home.  Naturally we laid claim on this true  relic of party history and proudly displayed it in pride of place on our own sideboard.

Our next party went off with a bang as usual, but not with the sacred Cold Duck bang and fizz of an opened bottle of the precious liquid naturally.
Next morning, cleaning up the detritus of the previous evenings debauch I gently lifted the sacred bottle from its perch, when I spied a label on the rear of the bottle which heretofore was labeless.

The label read (with thanks to the celebrated author), we all celebrated hard in those day.


This rare wine should not be consumed.
You should take it to a party,  drink the hosts good wine and leave it behind like a succession of cheap bastards have been doing for thirty years.

Please pass on this sacred trust

Only a Cuckoo would think of that, and I treasure that bottle of Cold Duck more than any Grange Hermitage could ever be treasured.

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