The Duck Woman of Tai O Village
The Duck Woman of Tai O Village sits at a picnic table near the beach. She cracks an off-white egg between her fingers, drops the insides into a bucket of water, fishes out the yolk with a ladle.
Her girlfriend sits across from her holding an aluminum shaker.
The Duck Woman is neither happy nor sad. Her black hair shines but her crow’s feet go grandmother deep. She ladles the yolk onto a baking sheet. Her girlfriend salts. The Duck Woman cracks another egg.
The table is covered with baking sheets. I study the dry yolks on a sheet near the table’s edge—they are rows of blood orange moons. Salt grains sparkle.
“Nigo geido chin a?” I ask.
“One dollah one,” the Duck Woman says, without looking up.
I hand her girlfriend a silver Hong Kong dollar, pluck up a moon, slip it in my mouth. It’s as hard as a coin and tastes like salty custard. I want to suck it but end up chewing, like an impatient child. I swallow the greasy pieces.
A fierce quacking comes from the village.
“Duck mother curses me,” I joke.
The Duck Woman frowns. "Yut fun tcheen yut fun foh," she says, dipping
Her girlfriend nods.
nigo geido chin a: how much
yut fun tcheen yut fun foh: you get what you pay for
BONE ON BONE
Well hello, Mary, this is June. It’s been ages since we last talked. Would you like to go to lunch some time next week? Oh. I didn’t know that about Harold. Where is the cancer? Oh, my. My goodness. That darn cancer. Cancer of the liver. There’s really nothing they can do for him? Imagine that, cancer of the liver. I’m so sorry. Now how has Barbara been feeling? Oh? You should send her to Doctor Kane. He does most of the hips and the knees. When I had my hip replaced, I prayed so hard and god really came through for me. Dr. Kane did the operation and what a relief. My hip’s made of that real strong stuff, I think they call it tit, tit-tan. Yes, that’s it. Tit-tanium. Every time he took an X-ray he couldn’t believe it, bone on bone. One bone rubbing against another. I had one of the worst cases and I know it was because of the steroids. Those darn steroids go straight for the cartilage. Do one thing to help something and it destroys something else. Really? Did you take one every day? So the spots are gone? That’s wonderful. Now tell me about your new neighbor’s at Lola’s old house. Really? I don’t even know our next door neighbors. Two doctors, a man and a woman with a little child. They’re Oriental. The whole street’s gone Oriental. See how things change? Are you sure you wouldn’t be able to go to lunch some day? Oh, that’s okay. Well, do give my best to Barbara. Harold will be in my prayers. Yes. Good-bye.