Sunday, March 13, 2016

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Quacks Your Story?

I was driving home from work.  I had just gotten onto the Interstate, and I was directly behind a metro bus when an object came into my lane.  As it so often happens when driving, several thoughts all occurred simultaneously in just a few seconds:
  • What is that?  Is it bag?
  • I should swerve to avoid it anyway.
  • There are two pieces, wait
  • Is that a wing??
Just as my brain realized the "object" was a large bird, an explosion of grey and white feathers happened between my car and the bus, and they didn't clear out of air for another quarter mile.

It was a bird, a large bird.  It must have been...a duck?  It was too small for a Canada goose and too large for any of the regular avian suspects, so I'm going with duck.  How did it get there?  Did the bus hit it first, and that's why it was in two parts?  Oh my God, was there duck blood on the front of my car??  With feathers stuck to it?!???

My poor brain was trying to keep up with everything that had happened in the span of seconds (while still driving 65+ mph down the highway), when I registered that my iPod was still playing:

Who lives?
Who dies?
Who tells your story?

That's right.  Hamilton:  An American Musical was giving last rites to the dead duck via the last track of Act II.  I took that as a sign that I needed to tell this duck's story.  Unfortunately, I only knew the duck for those few, gruesome seconds.  Nevertheless, I present to you:

The Lamentable Tale of Qularence the Duck

Qularence straightened his tie in the mirror.  He grabbed his hat and briefquase and headed to work.  Just another day, beak to the grindstone, at P. King Enterprises, LLC.  Qularence hadn't even reached his queuebicle when his quo-worker Donald waddled up with the latest office gossip.  "Did you see the new mallard?"

"No.  Who is he?" Qularence didn't really care, but it was impossible to shut Donald up.  Ever.

"His name is L'Orange.  Must be from the international office."

We have an international office? thought Qularence.  "Oh yeah, must be.  I'll, umm, keep an eye out for him."

What would an international duck look like?  Does he have an accent?  Maybe a tiny duckstache?  Does he smoke?  Smoked duck isn't allowed in the office.  And so Qualarence's mind rambled through the possibilities as he headed to his desk.

The morning went by swimmingly, if slowly, as Qularence pecked at his keyboard, crunching numbers.  Daisy the office manager came by around noon.  "Hey Qualarence, we're ordering lunch from that new place around the corner, 'Wings & Such.'  You want anything?"

Qularence paled a bit at the restaurant's name.

"Oh, I forgot.  Are you a vegetarian?" Daisy asked.

"Umm, no," said Qularence, "But I already brought my lunch, thanks."  He nodded towards his Thermos of soup and package of quackers.  Daisy nodded and waddled to the next cubicle to ask Donald for his lunch order.  Qularence was not a vegetarian, but something about eating wings just seemed wrong to him.

In fact, a lot of things seemed wrong to Qularence:  eating wings, wearing a tie to work, doing the same thing in the same queuebicle every day, earning only bread crumbs.  He was beginning to feel quite down in the mouth as the afternoon wore on, when an unfamiliar voice greeted him.

"Bonjour, Qularence!  It is I, Monsieur L'Orange from zee international office!"

Qularence stared at the foreign duck in amazement.  He did have an accent AND a tiny duckstache!  And he spoke in all exclamation points!  All the time!

"Umm, bonjour, Mister L'Orange,..." Qularence was an odd duck and a shy one at that.  He couldn't imagine why someone from the international office would want to speak with him.

"I like your tie!" M. L'Orange complimented him.  "It is very...plain."

"Thank you!"  The use of exclamation points was catching!  "I like your --" then Qularence stopped.  "You're not wearing a tie!?"

"Oh no, Monsieur Qularence.  We do not wear ties in zee international office!" M. L'Orange gave a small international-sounding chuckle.  Qularence joined in.  Of course they don't wear ties in the international office!  How silly!

"Mister L'Orange, how does an ordinary mallard like me migrate to the international office?  Is there a test to take?  Should I just wing it?"

"Oh, Monsieur Qularence, you seemply have to apply yourself!"

Qularence started to slump a bit in the shoulders and wings.  So far his hard work at P. King Enterprises, LLC. had done nothing except expand his collection of "very plain" ties.

L'Orange quacked at him quietly.  "No, I mean zere iz leeterally an application.  You just feel eet out."

Qularence squawked -- actually squawked -- aloud in the office!  That was "zee best" news he had heard all day!  His feathers felt a bit lighter.  Maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all.

During his flight home, Qularence kept thinking about the application M. L'Orange had mentioned.  An international office!  And no ties!  What else might they do differently over there?  Do they eat wings?  I bet international ducks are too smart and fancy for that!

The possibilities seemed endless.  As Qularence was daydreaming about his possible migration, he stopped paying attention to his quommute.  He quaught an updraft right underneath his briefquase and was knocked off-balance.  He struggled to regain his proper flight path, but it didn't seem to work.  He dropped his briefquase, and the air currents knocked his hat off his head.  Momentarily blinded by the setting sun and dazed with quonfusion, Qularence couldn't see!  Or navigate!  He barely registered the loud sound of a diesel engine when he was suddenly sucked underneath a massive metal bus.  He briefly tasted exhaust fumes and smelled burnt feathers before he suffered another blow to the head and all went blaque.


Who lives / who dies / who tells your story?

The song lyrics were still playing in my head when I hit the Bluetooth button on my car/phone and called my Unit, distraught.  "OHMYGOD, I think I just ran over a duck!!!  There were feathers EVERYWHERE, like a bird exploded on the Interstate!"


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