videoplayback DUCK FRAME 30 - CROP 1


        The young woman played flute, sitting cross-legged on the grassy bank of Brethren Park Lake in Barcelona, Spain.  She hung her head like a pendulum and played a sweetly mournful improvisation.  She wore egg-shaped earrings that towed her earlobes.  She had a trendy silver nose ring.  Yet her clothes were unfashionable and they could have been a young man’s jacket, shirt, and jeans.

        She put down her flute and picked up her tiny cell phone.  She began to text intently.




you pushed me from your high building I am a few inches from the cold pavement can’t you tell me why?  you took my father you left my mother to heroin you let her motherfucking boyfriend rape me you drive me homeless.  blind copy me dear great cosmic fart.  never yours forever sondra.

        Suddenly there was a squawk and a thrashing commotion in the lake before her.  Sondra raised her gaze in alarm.

        Three black swans were hissing and waving their snake-like necks.  One of the swans had a duck by the neck in its mouth and it dashed the duck left and right onto the surface of the Lake.  It release the duck and the duck floated motionless.  The other two swans were striking at several little round brown and yellow ducklings, grabbing them one by one and crushing the life out of them and then casting them away.

        The last brown and yellow duckling leaned toward the shoreline upon the tiny splashes of its paddling feet.  One of the three great black swans turned and glided behind, closing fast, with its head down and its angry yellow eyes like rings of fire.  They both were coming straight towards Sondra.  As the swan neared within striking distance the duckling peeped in terror.

        Sondra sprang to her feet and took a step toward the shoreline and shouted, “Hey!!”

        The great black swan coiled his neck back and hissed long and angrily at Sondra but he did not halt.  The duckling still peeped in terror as it arrived at the shoreline and then fled on its tiny legs right over Sondra’s shoe.  It ran past Sondra and finally hid inside the carrying bag that Sondra had knocked over when she stood up.

        Sondra threw her cell phone at the swan as it came ashore.  The swan reared back and then turned and quickly departed with indignant hissing.  The swan glided away serenely through the flotsam of the murdered duck family.  It rejoined the imperious promenade of its companions.

        Sondra picked up her muddy cell phone and turned and strode toward her carrying bag.  She tipped the carrying bag upright and looked down at the little fuzzy round brown and yellow duckling that plaintively peeped up at her.

        Sondra sighed, “Yes, I can hear your prayers but I don’t know what you are saying.”

 duckling 1

        Sondra pondered sadly and played her flute until darkness.  However, Sondra would not expel the duckling.  She carried the duckling away from Brethren Lake and then down along Begur Street to the little industrial park and the abandoned carpenters’ workshop in which Sondra and her companion named Seth squatted.  Sondra was an expatriate from France and Seth was a student from New York.

        Seth looked up from his laptop and said only, “You know how ducks crap.  Keep his shit swept up.”

        The sawdust still remaining on the floor of the abandoned carpenters’ workshop made that simpler for Sondra.

        Seth asked while looking down at his laptop, “What will you name him, her…it?  Duck Soup?”

        Sondra scowled at Seth as she held the little duckling in the palm of her upraised hand close to her face, saying, “I heard that ‘pato’ is Spanish for ‘duck’.  How about calling him ‘Zapato’?  That means ‘shoe’.  He ran right over my shoe.”

        Seth glanced up and grinned, saying, “And Emiliano Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary.”

        Seth was the writer of their own little revolution.  Seth denounced real estate speculation and worked on his Common Sense Against Eviction in support of the local colony of squatters.  With Sondra, Seth handed out pamphlets describing the hardships of finding decent affordable places to live in the state of this economy.

        Sondra stood beside Seth on the street and would play flute to draw attention and, yes, contributions, as Seth handed out his pamphlets and preached real estate revolution to passer-bys.  Sondra at first kept little Zapato with her in her carrying bag, then she kept him in a box as he grew that summer and finally she kept Zapato near herself with a long thin dog leash looped around her wrist as she played flute.  Sondra and Seth found that Zapato drew sympathetic, generous listeners.

        One amused passerby called out, “Patoflauta!”  It meant “duck flute” and it was a pun on the colloquial term “perroflauta”, or “dog flute”, which was the term given to hippie musicians who played for spare change, often with their scruffy dogs.

        Back ‘home’ at the abandoned carpenters’ workshop Zapato still slept in the carrying bag into which he had fled as a duckling only now he filled it up, comically.  It made Sondra and Seth smile with amusement.

        That September a policeman in the neighborhood was attacked by squatters and left in a coma.

        Seth wrote furiously to denounce the senseless attack.  He lamented to Sondra that his squatters’ revolution had been undone.  He said with despair, “The city will take unrestrained action to evict the colony with full public support.”

        The three black clad policemen came that night into the abandoned carpenters’ workshop of Seth and Sondra.  One of the policemen held aloft Seth’s pamphlets in his fist.  Without a word they began to smash everything in the workshop.

        Sondra cowered in a corner with Zapato and cried out with each crash of a policeman’s baton.

        Seth raised both hands to the policemen and pleaded, “We are against the bastards who attacked the policeman!”

        One of the policemen strode towards Seth, slashing his baton back and forth and said, “His name was Amadeo!”  He struck Seth, breaking Seth’s upheld forearm.  Then the other two policemen held Seth’s arms as the first policeman smashed every bone in Seth’s hands and in each finger.  Seth kept screaming, “It wasn’t me!  It wasn’t me!”

        Sondra ran into the night clutching Zapato.  She fled to the nearest Metro entrance and descended to the trains.  She entered one of the crowded cars on the first available train and crouched to the floor tearfully.  She sporadically comforted Zapato whose head showed above the carrying bag.  The other Metro riders were amused.

        Sondra took her flute from her jacket and began to play sweetly and mournfully, entering the dark tunnels of her own thoughts.

lady with duck 1


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