The beautiful, shimmering woman introduced herself as Eros; we welcomed her — our town was always friendly, and there’s something about beauty that makes people a whole lot more amenable to new folks. She said something about it being her day off and that she decided to visit our town and see what was up here. Being right good neighbors, or at least that was how we liked to think of ourselves, we told her we’d show her the sights and let her see the way around and introduce her to our way of life. It’s simple, but it’s ours, and it works for us pretty well.
So, we walked her around, and took her to the town hall, as it was right in the middle of the square where everything happens here. The mayor was in his office that day, and he’d always given great tours. Small towns like this one typically don’t have a whole lot of legislating and law making that needs to go on here, so Mayor Shank had a lot of time to work on his routine for tourists. We went up there, and pleasantries were exchanged, and everything was fine. At least at first, anyway. I always enjoyed hearing the mayor talk, but it seemed that Eros wasn’t really having much of it. She yawned a couple times, and started to wander around the main room.
If Mayor Shank has a fault, it’s that he tends to get wrapped up in himself, and doesn’t really notice a thing once he gets going. He was pointing and gesturing at the huge painting of the town founder (and his great-great-great-great-grandfather), telling the story of how he cobbled the town together from two bricks and some mortar and just a little bit of elbow grease. It was at this time that he didn’t see Eros making some sort of weird motion at the painting that’s impossible to describe even to this day and the changed to the town founder as a duck – complete with pince-nez, top hat and long flowing beard. She must have decided that his descendants should have the same look, and the mayor grew a similar-sized beak and feathers. Strangely, he didn’t even notice this either.
He did notice, however, the screaming coming from outside and growing louder and nearer the town hall. It’d appeared that the duckening hadn’t just happened to him, but his entire lineage; his daughter in law ran in, shrieking with yet another duck in tow — what had once been, and, to be truly truthful, still was his son, the man who’d most likely be our next mayor. (We weren’t prejudiced or anything.)
“WHAT HAPPENED TO BILLY?!” She paused. “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!?” She then looked up. “AND THE PAINTING?!”
Our other female guest smiled. “That makes things a bit more interesting now, doesn’t it? I rather like the look. My family’s always enjoyed waterfowl, anyway.”
All eyes turned to her.
I don’t recall who was the first to break the silence. “You did this?”
“Yes — I rather like it, don’t you?”
The mayor stopped his preening. “It’s not bad,” not wanting to offend our guest, as that’s just poor manners, “Though, if I had my choice, I think I’d rather be like I was. But, of course, I do appreciate the gift of duckiness, and I thank you for it.”
“Oh, I’m glad you like it — I know I do, and I think it will suit your town nicely!”
Mayor Shank looked in her flashing golden eyes and could tell she had no intention of setting things back the way they were. He always had a gift for reading people, which is one of the reasons we’d always elected him. That and no one ever saw a need to run against him — after all, it was mostly a ceremonial title anyway. Nothing ever happened here, or at least usually nothing did.
“Actually, I find I rather like this.” The mayor was interrupted by a wail from Agnes, and he shot his daughter-in-law a look. “It’ll probably help us bring in lots of outside dollars from tourists — people would like to see a town run by a talking duck! Thank you very much, Eros!”
“Eros? I’m not Eros — that’s a MAN’S name! I’m ERIS. Eros is a friend of mine — though we definitely don’t share the same sense of humor. He can get way too dark for my tastes. But otherwise, he’s a pretty good guy. Though, I suppose, I should be going. Even though it’s my day off, I’ve still got a lot to do. What can I say? I love my job.”
With that, Eris turned around and walked out of the Town Hall, down the street, and turned a corner into nothingness. We all just looked at each other, taking stock of what had just happened. Mayor Shanks had gone back to preening, clear that he had made his peace with being a giant duck and had embraced the idea of making our town and himself a tourist attraction. Always the optimist.
As we were about to go back to our houses, we heard hoofbeats. We all stepped outside to meet our new visitor. He was another shimmering, golden beautiful man. We greeted him the same way we’d greeted Eris. Strangely enough, he ALSO said his name was Eros.
Or, at least that’s what we thought he said. He sure looked angry about something, though.