No Duck

Reality is a difficult concept for me. What is real? Anything I can sense? Is my reality the same as yours?

What if everyone else in the room sees something you can't see - is it real?

Like maybe that duck on the table...

"You haven't even noticed the duck!"

"What duck?"

"This duck, right here in front of me on the table."

Brian looked puzzled. "There's no duck on the table."

"Sure there is. See? Right here! Can't you see it?"

"You're crazy."

"Hi!" said Cathy, coming into the room. She looked at Bill and did a double take. "What's that duck doing here?" she asked.

"Wait a minute?" said Brian.

"Brian says I don't have a duck on the table, Cathy."

"Why do you have a duck on the table?" asked Cathy.

"It followed me home from the park. I didn't want it wandering around the house."

"Cathy," said Brian a bit shakily, "there is no duck on the table."

Cathy looked at Brian with raised eyebrow. "Looks like a duck to me. What do you think it is?"

"I don't think it's anything at all. There isn't anything on the table! No duck, no anything! Just what are you two up to, anyway?"

Bill looked at Cathy, who shrugged. "I don't know what Bill's up to with that duck, but I'm not up to anything. There's a dingy white duck on the table in front of Bill, and I don't know what your problem is."

"There is no damn duck on the table!"

"OK, don't get excited?"

"What's all the yelling about? I'm trying to study?" Joe stopped and stared at the table in front of Bill. "A duck? You have a duck in the house? Don't we have a 'No Duck' rule here? I could have sworn the rules said 'No ducks'." Joe walked out, mumbling to himself.

Jill came in the back door behind Brian and took off her coat. "Hi, guys! What's happening? Having a meeting?"

"Those two claim Bill has a duck on the table in front of him."

Jill laughed. "A duck? I can hardly wait for the punch line on this one!"

"You mean you can't see it either?" asked Cathy. "This is really weird."

"OK, I'll play along," said Jill, and walked around the table toward Bill. She stopped short and her mouth fell open.

"Hey! How did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Make the duck appear like that! It wasn't there, and now it is."

Brian groaned. Jill looked at him, then at Cathy and Bill. She moved back toward Brian, stopped, moved toward Bill again.

"It disappears right there," she said, "and reappears right here. Pretty good, Bill. I didn't know you did magic?"

"I don't," said Bill. "This duck followed me home from the park, and hasn't disappeared once since. You still can't see it, Brian?"

Brian shook his head.

"Try standing where Jill is."

Brian hesitated, then stood and walked slowly toward Jill, keeping his eyes on the table in front of Bill. When he reached Jill he stopped and shook his head again. "No duck."

"But it's right there, Brian!" said Jill, "I can see it, they can see it, why can't you see it? Bill, how the hell are you doing that?"

"I'm not doing anything, I'm just sitting here with this duck."

"There is no duck on the table!" Brian yelled. "No duck! You people are all crazy!"

"Well, Brian, there's four of us who see it and only you who doesn't, so I'd say you're the crazy one."

Brian stood speechless.

"But since it bothers you so much, Brian," said Bill, raising his arms, "I'll just get rid of it for you." He suddenly brought his hands together in front him with a resounding Clap! Brian jumped. "OK, Brian, there you go. No duck."

Jill and Cathy looked solemnly at Bill, then at Brian. "No duck." Joe came in and said "No duck." They all silently watched Brian.


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