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just 'cause

I wrote this back in 20001. I remember who it was about,  but I don't remember what it means.


DUCKFIGHT

    We were awoken by a scream, a throaty, Southern wail. I sat up immediately, though at first I thought it was just the ducks that Fred had been telling me about, so it was only my body that was alarmed. He’d been watching them for a few weeks now -- a drake and a girl duck that seemed inseparable, spooning tight circles in the air and on the river, ruffling each other’s feathers for fun. Fred had told me that he’d seen the drake take off the day before yesterday, in the morning; when Fred came back from work at the bike shop that night, the girl duck was clutching the shoreline, alone, quacking lowly. By the time Fred had finished his dinner, though, the couple were sequestered behind a big old cypress knee, miraculously reunited.
    Fred, a fairly recent and considerably romantic acquaintance of mine, has since sworn off poultry.
    “I think there’s a fight going on across the river,” he murmured, his mouth full of pillow. Negotiating his body backward across the twin bed, one warm Polish-Puerto Rican shoulder found my naked hip and proceeded to bronze that spot.
    “I can’t believe you fucked that whore!!” screamed a decidedly unduckish voice.
    I clambered over Fred and went to one of his 16 windows. Boat-lovers built Fred’s house, so most of its windows are portholes. The exceptions are in his bedroom, which lies at the top of the house’s only staircase, swaying over its panopticonic riverview like a rummy lighthouse keeper.
    Fred joined me at my eastern window, kneeling next to me on the edge of the bed and laying his elbows on the sill. There were two vans parked across the river, on Broad Street. They were back-to-back, as if they’d been passing each other on the grassy riverside before quacking to a halt. Three men sat nearby, their fishing poles and feet in the water.
    The screamer was a blocky white woman. She had on a mullet hairdo and a soft yellow dress, the latter of which did little to soften the fact that she was the aggressor. The object of her hoarse hollers and occasional falling blows was a tall, potbellied fella with a mustache and a brief ape-drape of his own. His words, though indecipherable from our perch, were obviously intended to calm. 
    It wasn’t working.
    “I’m gonna kill that bitch, and then I’m gonna kill you!” Her voice hit the river like flat stones, skidding across to our sleepy ears. Fred lay down again. Surrounded by pale blue sheets and the light that filled the room, his naked skin may as well have been a small, momentary sun, quietly rolling our Sunday to a start.
    “Dorrit? Come back to bed.”
    Below me swam two ducks. They moved northward in a snug line, hugging the dock. On Broad Street, one of the vans peeled away, and the tall man rejoined his fishing buddies, one of whom scrambled to hand him a beer. I searched around on Fred’s floor for my jeans. Pulling a cigarette from the pocket, I settled in to watch Fred, trying to determine what kind of day we would have from the way his lips curled in sleep.


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