Contributor: Eric Suhem

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Bill sat on an overstuffed bag of feathers, beaks, guts, spleens, stomachs, livers and eyes. He could hear the faint chirping and quacking emanate from the chair. He was in his den clicking at the television remote control feverishly, wisps of smoke rising. It was 6:02 p.m., and he finally settled on Channel 38 University of the Air, Sky and Galaxy. On the screen, a man was sitting at a wooden desk in front of a blackboard in a stark room. Suddenly the man at the desk, and the blackboard disappeared in a big ball of light that was filling the television screen. “Bill!” it roared, “you are not what you think you are, you are a stream of energy coursing through a body, a vessel, a shell. You are like me!” said the ball of light.

The quacks and chirps from the chair began to get louder and Bill snapped, “Ssshh birds, I’m trying to watch this!” As he uttered those words, the ball of light disappeared from the television screen, and the man reappeared at the desk, frantically hitting the blackboard with a steel pointer and quacking. Bill then slowly murmured, “Hello birds, thank you for letting me enjoy your vessels. When my vessel has deconstructed into a new form, and its pieces fly off in shards of flame, I hope you will enjoy the use of it, just as I have enjoyed the use of yours.”

The chirping and quacking continued from the chair as the ball of light returned to the television, saying, “Yes, you are just a stream of energy coming from the universe.”

Bill’s wife Norma was in the kitchen with their niece, cooking a chicken. Norma heard the commotion and entered the den, where she was instantly alarmed by her husband's appearance. “Bill, you look like you had too many of those 99 cent vitamin packets from the 7-11,” she said in a concerned tone, looking at the array of brochures on their coffee table. “Have you been reading more of those New Age transcendence pamphlets?”

“No dear, I’m fine,” he said, staring at a picture of mallards on the den’s fine-wood-grain-paneled wall.

“We have enough problems just trying to pay the bills, without your excursions into metaphysical whatnot,” said Norma, leaving the room as Bill slowly transformed into a bright ball of light.

When Norma returned to the den, Bill was gone, and on the television screen was a duck, sitting at the desk in front of the blackboard. “Now listen to me, Norma,” said the duck. Norma tried to use the remote clicker, but the television was stuck on Channel 38. "You have enjoyed our vessels, though we are all really one with the universe. Quark-Quark!...I mean Quack-Quack!"

The duck insinuated itself into her being, its webbed feet grabbing hold. It pecked at Norma's conscience, hunting for niblets of corn inside the inner reaches of her cortex gray matter, perching on a cactus of thought beneath the blue shine of her inner cranium. The duck’s bill pecked urgently, as Norma was transformed into a bright ball of light, joining Bill in a new consciousness, in tune with the cosmos.

Bill and Norma’s molecules seemed to have disappeared from the neighborhood, though it was rumored that they were still in the vicinity. Their niece went to the park’s duck pond every week, to sit and listen to the quacking.

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Eric Suhem dwells in office cubicles and ocean waves. His new book 'Dark Vegetables' can be found in the orange hallway (www.orangehallway.com)
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