I dreamed that my friend R__ turned into a giant, invisible duck.
His only hope lay with a mystical lady doctor.
While she worked on a magical cure, he stayed hidden in a small safe house. A matched group of wooden advertising collectibles from the 1930s—curly-haired girls and kittens with bows in their fur—decorated the front parlor. The figurines had once been bright red, but the red had faded to pink over the decades, and the paint was peeling.
The giant, invisible duck waited and waited for the mystical lady doctor to effect a cure.
One day, the invisible duck left the safe house and found himself waddling toward a grand part of town that seemed oddly familiar.
His mind was going, becoming a duck-brain.
As he waddled, he thought, I put my foot here, I put my foot there, I put my foot here, I put my foot there.
Meanwhile, not far from where the duck found himself heading, the mystical lady doctor was inside one of R___’s beautiful houses, exploring the place with the pleased attitude of a potential inheritor.
Her male assistant was with her. He wore Operating Room scrubs and an expression of gravest concern.
“What are we doing here?” said the assistant. “We shouldn’t be here, this is R__’s house. We should be back in the lab, working on that cure.”
“Oh, there is no cure,” said the mystical lady doctor. “He’s going to stay a duck. Eventually he’ll become visible, and he’ll forget that he was a man.”
“What? How long have you known this?”
“I’ve always known it,” said the doctor, examining the china.
“Then why are we taking his money? Why are we leading him on?”
“We’re not leading him on,” she said. “We’re giving him hope.”
And she began quietly counting the spoons.
A few blocks away, the throng of pedestrians had come to a standstill, awed by the rich neighborhood’s architecture. Here tall apartment buildings rose nearly to the sun. They were made of red brick and the giant Roman arches at their bases were carefully matched, creating the effect of a planned environment.
A standing crowd was bad news for a giant, invisible duck, so R__ left the mobbed crossroads and waddled down a small side street that soon became a garden path. There was something familiar about the path, something he ought to remember, but his man-mind was fading. I put my foot here, I put my foot there, I put my foot here, I put my foot there.
Suddenly, around the corner of a large, beautiful house, two human beings appeared and bumped into him.
Everyone, including the duck, screamed in terror and surprise.
The duck recovered first.
“Doctor,” he said, “it’s me, R__. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, you gave me such a start! It’s dangerous for you to be out of the safe house. Come back with me.”
“But, where are we? What are you doing here?”
“Nowhere, nothing, come.”
The duck looked at the assistant, whose face was a mask of poorly concealed guilt. And suddenly he knew where he was.
“This is his house,” the duck said. “My house,” he corrected himself. “This is my house.”
“Your house? Of course it’s your house. We were watering the plants and checking your mail,” the doctor said, recovering. “We’ve been paying your bills, so when you resume your human life, you won’t have angry creditors at the door.” And she smiled with brilliant kindness.
Her words made the duck feel warm and safe, but then he looked again at the assistant, and suddenly he knew everything.
“You’ve been lying to me,” the duck said. “You’re not even trying to help me. You want my property! I won’t stand for this.”
But it came out quack, quack, quack.