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Discernment

William Blome

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Post-event crowds each have their own dynamic, and while a beginner at this kind of discernment might be puzzled to render the difference between, say, an exiting chamber music audience and a flock of coming-down-the-steps-and-going-home museum-goers, the same beginner could probably earn her or his discernment spurs in mental, verbal or written description of obviously disparate groups (for instance, folks leaving a lacrosse game versus mourners filing from a funeral parlor). How odd, then, thought Geoffrey, for a veteran voyeur like himself to now come across a duck woman pushing her way forward in this crowd of disembarking passengers from a just-docked water taxi. Normally a mere gaggle of bourgeois tourists and predictable children, today's mob of water taxi passengers suddenly underwent a pronounced (if not easily comprehensible) re-definition in Geoffrey's mind when he spied the duck woman walking in their midst.

A couple of points about the duck woman: she appeared to Geoffrey to be completely at ease and communicating freely with her companions (and they with her), though as the group fanned out from the pier—came toward, then gradually drifted away from the bistro terrace where he was seated—Geoffrey could distinctly hear the DW’s rather high-pitched and loquacious staccato “quaaack, quack-quack-quack; quaaack, quack-quack-quack; quaaack, quack-quack-quack.” She wore a royal blue knit dress, was jewelry-less, about five feet tall, had lovely, jutting hips and heavy, hanging breasts, and a bright orange, shiny bill that contrasted sharply in both color and texture with her dress. (Interestingly, though Geoffrey took no notice of her ass or her feet, he did remark to himself [again in reference to her quacking] that unlike most other people of today or anytime, there was scant inflection, emphasis or hesitation in the duck woman’s voice. Anger, joy, compassion, song—Geoffrey reasoned that if that good shit were present in the DW’s voice, you probably had to be [as her companions, again, did appear to be] an experienced and familiar acquaintance to pick it up.)

But you wouldn’t have had to be nearly that knowing to pick up the fox man in the same crowd, particularly after folks thinned out and the crowd ceased to be the monolithic, cohesive group it had been just off the boat, and the wonder of it was that Geoffrey entirely missed seeing the fox man. With his long, puffy, orange tail and sleek black legs, and his pointed nose and pointy ears, he cut a figure both dashing and rakish. Moreover, if you looked carefully at his mouth, you wouldn’t have had any trouble seeing saliva form and spittle ooze whenever he beheld the duck woman; you had to think Ms. Sexy Waddles was sooner or later going to be in big, big, trouble. You would have to think so, but ‘twasn’t so, of course, for Geoffrey the Oblivious.

And to top it all off, Geoffrey the Observer also had no clue as to the existence of weasel child among the travelers. To be fair, for this omission he could perhaps be forgiven, because weasel child’s long, low profile and cement-gray coat camouflaged well against the concourse and the walkway, though such magnanimity towards Geoffrey’s powers of observation is probably a bit of a stretch when you consider the loud hissing and snarling and sudden movements that would be the tip-off for most people that a WC was in their midst. And predictably, fellow strollers cut the WC a wide swathe of slack (unlike the nonchalant and casual conviviality they readily bestowed on duck woman and fox man). But suffice it to say, Geoffrey the Obtuse was here again among the missing.

After several hours of shopping, eating, picture taking and the like, the water taxi crowd began to reassemble and cluster toward the pier, their harbor stopover nearly at an end. By their wrist-aimed glances and their steady peering out to sea, by their general restlessness, the crowd was obviously impatient for the next water taxi to arrive and take them away. But seemingly fidgety at best even during relatively uneventful times, weasel child could now be seen scurrying madly among the legs of his companions, a ranting and raving whip snake of anxiety. Fox man, while clearly appearing to be more interested in and devoted to the journey ahead, kept casting intelligent backward and sideways glances of caution, something no doubt de rigueur when you sport a long, sensitive tail, but something nonetheless disconcerting and worrisome to others.

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But now, Geoffrey thought, where the fuck be duck woman? Where the hell be “quaaack, quack-quack-quack?" Where’s that form-hugging dress, those western-saddle hips, those overflowing titties? Geoffrey’s eyeballs scanned high and low and everywhere, but they certainly weren’t bringing home the image of his search. No duck woman came into focus to satisfy or validate his previous excitement. And, of course, of the highest possible importance, by this time, no sensory perception of fox man or weasel child appeared such that Geoffrey would have options as to where blame or explanation might effortlessly and easily be placed.

All rights reserved to William Blome.

Nonfiction: Kirk Wisland

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