It started innocently enough, a merchant marine on the ship Socrates ran onto the Tasmanian shore over a wooden plank onto a dock. The plank was wobbly like a weeble. It rocked with footseteps. Each board was; weathered, wrought toothed, knotty, curved. The marine ran the galley and wanted fresh eggs. He walked to the nearest stand that had a green awning and buckets full of fish. He asked for eggs and received two dozen.
One of the two dozen was larger than the rest. It was opaque yellow and warbled in the crate. As the sailor ran over the tooth like bark of the plank, this particular egg, too big for the crate, rolled out as he set it on deck. It rolled and rolled and rolled, into a bundled quilt black blanket we cover things with. The blanket was bunched under the engine and the egg rolled right into a wrinkle.
Days passed as the ship crossed the ocean zigzag style. Through Indonesia; Timor, Lombok, Bali, into the Java Sea, then they reached Singapore. The Marines had a swell time there while the egg under the engine waited with listless lasting.
Then they backtracked over the Pacific to California, stopping at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The marines drank beer and smoked weed and fished for fun, catching large blue crabs with chicken bones. Then they moved on. They crashed across the ocean.
When they arrived in San Francisco, a bustling attitude overwhelmed the ship. Men were moving boxes, bustling with the excitement of home and girls in halter tops. The boat chugged past Alcatraz, and they docked. Men bustled to the hull and began to unload boxes. One, not quite a man, skinny and sinewy like bark on a tree, ran to the depths of the ship. His name was Jean. He was fifteen years old. He was French, and believed in Hell. When he arrived in the engine room, the egg rolled out.
Jean picked up the egg (he grew ducks), and tucked it into his pea coat. It was a cold day. He was delicate with the boxes and when his one task of clearing the engine room was complete, he jogged to the trolley. There, waiting in the exhaust of passing cars, he starred at the metallic rails of the street cars, then peeked at his egg. He was so proud.
His main hen, Daisy, was brooding over a bundle of eggs. She was a Mallard and had wandered with her Drake, Fhen, into the Pacific Northwest two years ago. The pair had settled in Jean's back swamp and nested under a bundle of ferns. They clipped the wings and the first brood contained nine ducklings. Nine were still there, though Jean had traded a few with some folks in Montana to ensure the avoidance of inbreeding. They had eaten one, a lame duck that couldn't keep up.
When he arrived home, he took the egg out of his coat and slipped into the hexagon linked pen and shuffled over to Daisy. She "Quacked" at him and waddled over expecting food. He snapped his fingers together, simulating corn and slipped the egg into the nest.
Two weeks later, Daisy stirred. One egg rumbled like an earthquake beneath her. She spread her wings and the attending drake with three curls on his tail spun in circles. The egg hatched. The beast that emerged wasn't a duck. It had a duck bill and webbed feet, but it had hair and a long body and four legs.
"What are you?" Daisy asked the wee beast with flattened greasy hair on the body.
The body could not speak, it could only curl up to the mother. Jean was amazed. He had hatched a Platypus. A day later, He realized the shivering beast was starving. It was crying, a curled ball of abandoned hope. Jean went to the library. There, he discovered that the platypus can eat earthworms, so he dug under rocks and collected snails and grubs and earthworms and put them in the cuisinart. He mixed them with goat milk from the pigmy goat and used and eye dropper to feed the little thing. It ate with a voracious appetite and grew.
When the other ducklings hatched they looked at their brother, with curious delight. Jean had introduced the platypus back to the pen. The platypus fit in like Flynn. Good gracious. When the other ducklings could speak, they asked him if he was a duck.
"You have a duck bill and webbed feet, are you a duck?" They asked.
Plato the platypus didn't know how to answer. He couldn't even if he wanted to. He didn't speak duck.
One day, a beaver wandered up to the hexagon linked fence.
"Hey", he said, "Is that a beaver in there with y'all? He has a flattail and a hairy body."
"No". Replied Daisy. "Plato is a duck, now scat you beast."
The beaver whispered a sound of disgust and ran away.
Plato grew eating crawdads, and worms and snails, while his siblings plucked grass. Jean watched with inherent enthusiasm, with a guise of remorse. He realized his mistake. The next day he swaddled up the little beast in a potato bag, none to Daisy's protests and brought the beast to the zoo. There he turned over Plato to a zookeeper that released him into a pen with others of his kind.
"What am I?" Plato asked the others that starred at him with blank, black eyed expressions.
"You are but a Platypus, and you are in a zoo you will be here until you die.". They said.