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					   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com



                                No Albino Duck, by Scott Lambridis



       Commuting to office of ad agency. Fog blanketing everything. And wind. And wetness

and cold. Hispanic woman giving away newspapers. Wearing bright purple academic robes and

four-cornered hat. Headline highlighting budget cuts. A promotional maestra. Trolley full even

before boarding. I giving crisp new bill to driver. Conductor. Engineer. Not sure what to call

him. Cramming. With everyone else. Towards the back. Near an exit. Holding on to metal rail

above. Carriage of wood and brass moving. Crunching. Grinding. Voice saying All aboard,

there’s room in the back. I thinking no fucking way. Maybe not enough oxygen. Asian girl in her

twenties sitting. Crossing legs. Looking up at me with the interest of a child. Looking away.

Looking up at me. Looking away. Coda. Mirroring me. Following my hands when moving. Old

man beside her fumbling with a keychain. Thick hands. Greasy white hair tied in a manlytail. No

respite in other views. Middle-aged asses. Painted toenails. Going to work. Going to spend

money made from work. Maybe working even now. I feeling bored with people. Outside the

window. Figure with thick layers of dirty clothing hiding any head or shoulders. Torso only.

Garbage bags tied together. A real local of the pier.

       More people boarding. Unconscionable driver. Kids filling in like pebbles through stones.

Backpacks pushing and jabbing. Asian girl still watching my hands. Her purse rubbing against

my fly. I holding breath. Closing eyes. Imagining being patted and fondled. Old European lady

forcing between girl and me. Almost knocking me down save other bodies holding me up. So

many heads. A little tank of creatures. Or a single one. Many tentacles. Undulating with a

thousand eyes through rough and tumbling seas. Wanting to see them burn and split and choke

and die. Not knowing why. Recognizing mania. Feeling guilt. Shame. Trying to imagine purse




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                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

against me again. But squelch of metal. Brakes ripping. Falling forward. Swearing I seeing a

duck on the tracks. Power cutting. Tourists shouting in dark. Coffee spilling somewhere. Many-

headed beast panicking. Claiming can’t move. Screaming passengers. Old European lady pulled

under feet. Asian girl lifted into window. Hair pressed against skin. Door splintering. I squeezing

through into fog. Hearing glass break. Feeling glass break. Walking forward.

       Finding duck on tracks and scooping it up. Cradling it. Warm in my arms. Grey bill. One

floppy grey foot crushed. Feathers white as heaven’s starched shirts. Eyes red as bloody hell.

Calling him D. Looking into its red eyes. D looking into mine. Staring. Seeing me. Really seeing

me. Walking with D in cold. Stopping at restaurant in front of piers. Squat Mexican in suit

shaking his head. –Sorry sir, no duck. –No duck? –No duck. –But it’s an albino duck. –No albino

duck. –No albino duck? –No albino duck. Pissed. Walking away. Down the block a restaurant

more forgiving of ducks. Or more impressed by albinos. Seeing associate A there. A joining us

for appetizers. Talking about budgets and timelines. D quacking. Tenderly waddling on the table.

Knocking A’s wine glass over. Pooping on A’s $60 steak. Still talking about budgets and

timelines. Milestones. Deliverables. Host asking us to leave. D leaving associate with check.

       One hand dialing while other holding D in warm armpit. Telephoning client. Postponing

our weekly meeting. Describing D. Client saying ducks sleep with only one brain hemisphere at

a time. One lobe always up waiting for predators. Client having pretty voice. Picturing her

naked. But only her face. The pinch of the upper lip. The pink swell of the lower. Just lips only if

beauty withered by multiplicity. Hanging up phone and wondering. Maybe one side of D seeing

horrors only when inhibiting side sleeps. Maybe not one D. Maybe two Ds.

       Sitting on park bench with D. Trying to take it all in at once. Smelling the fish on the

docks. Feeling the wind. Passing voices. Cars. Barking. Discerning each from the other. Trying


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

for absolute clarity of all senses at once. Not in succession. Fighting off each association as the

next one arrives. Wanting the now. Purely now. Before creating meaning. No metaphors. No

exalting experience. Too much for one mind. Hearing barking louder. Louder. Holding D close.

Owner pulling on leash of a monster of a bear of a dog. I yelling That’s right! and petting D on

downy head. Watching my fellow man trip on the curb. I drawing a heart with a stick in the dirt.

Writing D in center. D padding across my marks. Negating my message. Negating itself. D’s

little manifesto. I staring into fading sun until seeing only purple and pink. Napping with D.

Dreaming I eating everything until nothing left to eat. Tasting nothing until forgot that things

have taste. No longer human. A robot that has not been aptly completed. Pulling levers.

Chemicals in cylinders pumping up and down. Being the trolley. Tracks below. Seeing people on

board. Seeing Asian girl: maybe not hurt. Maybe no one hurt. Maybe no blood on glass at all.

        Morning on the dock with D in lap. Hispanic woman yelling Free Examiner. Dressed like

conductor. Engineer. Forgetting the term. Cover photograph of trolley. Headline indicating an

accident. I searching for D in photo. A foot or feather or bill. Seeing none. Trolley pulling up. I

jogging behind the trolley and putting D on the curb. Just where he was. But safer. I boarding the

trolley. Conductor pulling levers. Pressing buttons. Crunching. Grinding. D on the curb receding

into past. But D’s red eyes getting larger. Larger. Larger. Seeing me. Really seeing me.

Enveloping me. Receding the wrong way. Leaving me behind on the curb. Looking into the

trolley window as it rolls away. Seeing everyone inside. Frightened creatures. Wanting to save

them. Wanting to save D. Wanting to save self. I flapping towards the crawling trolley. Feet

feeling wide and webbed. Feet looking bleached and grey. Catching up with trolley. Overtaking

trolley. Falling. On tracks in front of trolley.

                                                    +++


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis




       “There’s no such thing as albino ducks,” says Mary, that pain in the ass, stopping the

game in its tracks.

       “Of course there is,” says her new guy, before her divorce is even finalized. I like him

already and grind on Juliet’s hand which is working my balls below the table. I better enjoy it

while I can because at any moment she’s going to jump in and

       “Of course there isn’t, Don. And you don’t have to demean her like that,” she says,

pulling her hand out of my pants. Fuck, if Mary keeps me from my fellating tonight I swear this

is the last time we’re coming over. I roll up my sleeves and zip up my pants.

       “Actually hon, there is,” I say. Juliet glares at me. She thinks I’m just antagonizing for the

fuck of it, because it turns her on. But I’m not. “I’m sure there could be an albino anything,” I

say.

       If we won, I would be spreading her out over fresh sheets, helping her leave the wet

and sticky marks of lust on the presumptuous life of her soon-to-be-ex-lover. If we lost,

well, that just wasn’t going to happen.

       “Well, maybe, but if no one’s ever seen one, then we really can’t assume, and it sure as

shit won’t come up in a game of Pictionary,” says Mary. Mary turns to Don. “So you’re still an

idiot for guessing it.”

       “Hey Mary, guess who’s not getting any tonight?”

       We all laugh, except Mary, who frowns.

       “I’ve seen one, you know,” I say, filling my glass with bourbon from Mary’s decanter.

       “Oh, just drop it,” says Juliet, massaging her knuckles, wanting me to sit down so she can

get back to it. I’m like her magic squeezeball stress reliever, the only way she can deal with these


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

people. “It’s my turn.”

        “Now hold on a minute,” says Don, signaling for me to pass the decanter. “You’ve seen

one?”

        “Oh yeah,” I say, and Mary leans back against the couch and frowns at Juliet. The game

is on hold. Juliet rubs her eyes and scoots back in her chair, thinking I’m just going to pace, but I

sit back down beside her. She smiles and slips her hand back in my lap beneath the table. “I’ve

seen one. Once,” I say, and I start to remember.




        There was fog blanketing everything, and wind, and wetness, and cold, and darkness.

        I swore I saw the duck even before I heard the wheels squelch and the passengers scream

and the head go through the glass. White as heaven’s starched shirts, with floppy pink feet and a

pink bill, but eyes red as bloody hell.

        At work, I searched the web for some information. I wanted to know how he thinks, and

discovered that ducks are capable of unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, meaning that their fear of

predators was so strong they could sleep with one eye open, and half their brain hanging out in

waiting.

        I found this interesting and followed hyperlink after hyperlink to other studies involving

the hemispheres and found the results of split-brain surgeries done on epileptics to stop the most

dangerous seizures. The side effect of splitting the brain via the corpus collosum was that the left

visual field, located in the right hemisphere, could no longer communicate with the speech-

control centers in the left hemisphere, such that the patients couldn’t name what the right side of

their brain was seeing, though they could pick it up and draw it with the left hand, since it’s


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

controlled by the right side of the brain. Not only that, but the patients will confabulate an

explanations for their odd behavior if the parts of the real story are being processed in the left

side of the brain. In fact, they’ll even show different personalities if they write versus speak

responses to questions.

       I picked up the duck and he quacked in my arms and I wondered if he was awake or

asleep, or both, and if during those times when he was both, if there were two ducks, not one.

Perhaps the duck had seen some horrors that only come to his sleeping mind, or are only seen

when the side of his brain that can cope with it is sleeping and no longer inhibiting it. Was I

somehow doing the same? I knew that my introduction to the duck was predicated on a horror

that I had survived, but I felt nothing. I am not so inhuman, or so incapable of self-analysis that I

do not wonder why. So I am forced to imagine that, assuming my corpus callosum has not been

snipped, and that I am not a duck, that I am something different – some sort of robot.

       I finished the burnt coffee and rubbed my eyes, needing a break from the backlit screen

and the fluorescent lights. To seem busy, I sent an email memo with boilerplate project

management tasks, instructing the team that I would check in.



       Though it should have been a normal weekday, something was off. Something

implacable. My mind drifted and wandered. When I should have just been half-asleep riding the

train into the city, I was instead pondering metaphysics and being amazed at the leaps of faith in

time and space we all take but never consider when riding daily public transportation. You get on

at one spot every day. The one spot you’ve figured out through trial and error that will spit you

out, transfer included, at the specific spot by the stairwell below the coffee shop on the side by

the proper exit to catch the streetcar on the right side of the road. But there’s nothing stopping


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

that from going horribly different one day. Like you end up below a whorehouse in Amsterdam

instead. Or a sewer entrance in Thailand. I have no idea. It’s bullshit and doesn’t make a lick of

sense, but my mood at the time made my hairs prick up and my stomach go into knots. As I said,

something was off.

       Of course, nothing happened. I ended up at the exact spot I needed to grab my coffee and

still get to the streetcar stop a few minutes early.

       At the top of the stairwell, some Hispanic lady was yelling “Free Examiner,” like she

does every morning and although I usually just turn my head to avoid eye contact, I grabbed it.

The cover photograph was of a trolley, just like the one I was about to board, and the headline

indicated an accident.

       As I crossed the street to the trolley stop with the newspaper, a car pulled right up to me

before stopping. I gave it the eye, you know, the evil eye, the narrow glare that says this is my

fucking moment, or maybe its just another moment but it sure ain’t your fucking moment so just

back-the-fuck-up, even though you know they’re giving you the same one back.

       The trolley arrived and it was already full, but we crammed in anyway. I knew everyone

gave away the faded, soft, crinkled bills first, so I gave the driver a crisp new one.

       I stood towards the back, near an exit, and held onto the metal rail above me. The Pogues

were playing in my headphones, which was odd since I don’t own any, but I was too cramped to

check the tracklist. Below me, a young Asian girl crossed her legs and looked up at me. As I

shifted position, she followed me, again and again though I kept looking away and then back

again. Though in her 20s, she was interested like a child is interested, keeping my eyes in hers,

following my hands when I moved them, mirroring me. It was unnerving so I tried to do the

same thing to the old man beside her with thick hands and slicked-back greasy white hair in a


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

ponytail who was fumbling with a little bottle on a keychain. I got bored though and looked out

the window instead and saw a headless vagrant, thick with layers of dirty clothing, bags

connected next to him, his head and shoulders hidden by thick clothing wrap. He looked like a

new headless alien, and I felt like I had just discovered the true owners of the land.

       All those middle-aged asses, all those painted toenails.

       At the next stop, more people boarded and I wondered how the driver could in good

conscience pack more people in. Kids filled in like pebbles through stones. An old lady who

must have been eastern European forced her way through. Backpacks pushed and jabbed. Some

Asian lady almost knocked me down sliding between me and the Asian girl who was still

watching my hands. Her purse rubbed against my groin and if I closed my eyes I could imagine

my balls were being patted and fondled.

       I looked above at all the heads, sitting and standing. What a little tank of creatures I was

in. They were a many-tentacled Kraken, undulating with a thousand eyes in the rough and

tumbling sea, and I don’t know why, I mean its not like me, but I wanted to see them all burn and

split and choke and die. When the buzzer rung, I recognized my mania and felt guilt. Then

someone spilled coffee and the power outside disconnected causing darkness and panic amongst

the tourists. Someone said they couldn’t breath. Someone asked for a doctor.



       I managed my way outside and towards the duck on the tracks. It was white, with white

eyes and grey feet that looked bleached, though one looked like it had been run over. I looked

into its eyes and it looked into mine. In the duck’s stare, I knew it saw me. I saw it and it saw,

really saw, me.

       The duck in my arms, I walked the street in front of the piers towards the restaurant for


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

my business meeting. At the entrance, the host, a squat little Mexican in a suit stopped me.

       “No duck,” he said.

       “No duck?”

       “No duck.”

       “It’s an albino duck.”

       “No albino duck.”

       “No albino duck?”

       “No albino duck.”

       I should have been angry, but I didn’t like this restaurant anyway. I called my associate

and he agreed to meet me up the street at a restaurant more forgiving of ducks, or more

impressed with albinos, I’m not sure which.

       We ordered wine, though it was well before happy hour, and some appetizers. While my

associate yammered on about budgets and timelines, the duck quacked and waddled on the table.

The duck knocked his wine glass over and then pooped on his $60 steak, but we both just stared

at each other and kept talking. When I told him my hourly rate, he duck kicked over his second

wineglass, splashing zinfandel on my associate’s blue shirt. He’d been tolerable up until then,

but when he called the duck, and all ducks pigeon-like vermin, I just laughed and laughed. My

associate told me he did not want to conduct business with men such as me, but I was fine with

that and left him with the check.



       On a bench nearby, I opened the newspaper I was still carrying. There we were on the

cover: the we that is me and the frightened and fey faces on the trolly, but no albino duck. Oh, he

was there, beyond some unmarked borders of the light, and I could swear his bleached foot stuck


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

out unobstructed, but it stood upon a double yellow line in the road, invisible.

       Behind me, I heard my name: “Hi John.” I turned and saw a dark-skinned man, probably

Filipino, in a chapeau, whom I had never met. I scanned the article and flipped its pages in the

wind but found no mention of my name. When I looked back up he had crossed the street and

looked back embarrassed.

       I continued reading the newspaper as the duck nestled into my armpit. I read about a flu

epidemic that was suspected of traveling across the border into my territory. I closed my eyes

and thought of what the faces of those with the sickness would look like. I held the duck’s warm

feathers and tried not to breath.



       I was trying to take it all in at once. The smell of the fish on the docks. The feel of the

wind on my skin. The sounds of passing voices, barking, cars, discerning each one from the

other. Really trying for absolute clarity of all senses, but at once, not in succession. Probably too

much for one mind. Each one had an association that I had to fight to block off before my mind

wandered. I wanted the now, pure. My mind tried to make it mean something, like in a dream or

those crazies looking for bible code with mindsets of wanting and feeling lost and needing

direction. But I wanted no metaphors, no exalted experience. I wanted now, now. I was holding

onto the sound of barking which became louder and louder in my focus, until I realized it was

actually getting close. Instinctively, I held the duck close. When I looked back a monster of a

bear of a dog was being yanked away by its owner. “That’s right!” I yelled.

       The duck felt warm, but inside me I felt even warmer holding it. It was soft and I could

lose hours staring into its white eyes. I began to feel kinder towards the idea of the folly of my

fellow humans. I laughed with pride seeing a man trip and fall over a pretzel, my fellow man.


                                                 10 of 13

   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

My phone rang and my girl berated me for being late, but we were on the outs anyway. I went

for a happy hour beer, but the waiter spilled my beer and almost got the duck wet. I gave him a

big fat twenty dollar tip and left. I stopped in at work, but my boss threw a stack of files at me. I

took the elevator back down, smiling and smiling and smiling, hoping he had a duck that he

could touch to his face. Outside, I wondered where we could go together, the duck and I, and if I

could buy it something to show my affection.

       I called my client up. We have that kind of relationship, but she didn’t have much to

offer. “Arc lights scare ducks,” she said. “My boyfriend is a sculptor. That’s all I remember.” I

pictured her naked, but only her face. The pinch of the upper, the pink swell of the lower, they

were only just lips if beauty is withered by multiplicity. “Describe,” she said. “Just get it out.”

That’s really all you can do.

       I stopped at a park and put the duck down on the soft dirt. I drew a big heart with a stick

and in the center wrote “albino duck,” but the duck padded and limped its way across my marks,

negating my message, negating itself. “No albino ducks, eh?” I said, and picked him back up.

“You’re the boss, it’s your manifesto.” By telling this story, I fear I am violating its rule and will

have consequences that must be paid.

       I stared into the fading sun until I saw only purple and pink. I wondered if I was truly

human. Other people see emotions and fears and sadness, but I could only see chemicals.

Chemicals, in cylinders, pumping up and down. Perhaps I am a robot, but that doesn’t explain

the duck. Perhaps I am a robot that has not been aptly completed.



       On the bench, I dreamt of the girl outside the trolley. There was a list of things to do

beside her in the street, partially checked off, splashed with blood. In my dream, I was thirty, and


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

I was eighty, and in dream logic that was fine. I was eating everything until there was nothing

left to eat. I tasted nothing until I forgot that things could be tasted. In my dream, the woman at

the top of the stairs appeared. Today she is a graduate today in bright purple robes, giving away

newspapers. Today, her daughter dies of cancer.



       For three days we slept on the docks together.



       On the fourth, I took the duck back to the trolley stop that I boarded four days before. The

woman was outside giving away newspapers. The cover showed the graduating class at SFSU

and mourned funding for our state schools. The woman was a promotional maestro, dressed in

purple robes with her four-cornered hat.

       The trolley pulled up and I threw up a finger and asked the driver to wait and she stared at

me unmoving. I jogged behind the trolley and put the duck down between the double yellow

lines, then ran back up front and boarded, assured that the duck was safe.

       As we rolled away, I watched the duck recede into the past, but felt pulled towards it. The

space opened up between us, it got larger instead of smaller until the whites of its eyes enveloped

me and then receded, but the wrong way. I was left behind in the street, looking in the window of

the trolley as it rolled and clunked away. I could still see everyone inside. Together, their heads

and bodies were a many-headed worm and I felt hungry for them.

       Then, I saw her, and I remembered her from the ride, but remembered only in a déjà vu

sort of way, as if she had been there all along, but I had only now processed the information my

retina received. No, not just the retina, all the senses. I tasted her perfume, downy and fresh. I

heard the sifting of her stockings against each other. I saw her all in white from head to toe,


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   Scott Lambridis ● scott@omnibucket.com ● 510.735.5885 ● 2125 Woolsey St. Berkeley CA ● slambridis.com
                                                                                           No Albino Duck
                                                                                        by Scott Lambridis

except with gray leather boots. I was outside and looking in at myself, sitting beside her again,

the girl in the white jacket with bleached rain boots, listening to her talk on the phone. To her

there were people and family and buildings and decisions and careers and mountains and

pancakes and arguments and bicycles and guests and gnats and bees and healthcare and a million

other wonderful and horrible tidbits of life, but to me there was only the black edge of the end of

the world and the white expanse between me and her, and I was afraid of walking towards the

dark. My feet were bleached and gray and wide and I flapped them towards the crawling trolley

until I could throw myself on the tracks in front of it.



       “And that’s it,” I say as Juliet continues working me with her hand as I speak, my face

dead serious. “That’s how I met Juliet.” I turn as her hand stops working me and my belt buckle

hits the floor and four sets of eyes shift down below the table. “Wait. What were we talking

about?”

                                                   +++




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