Not a joke. Not a metaphor. Definitely not a double entendre. A duck. Dead. I'd have taken a picture but I had to act quickly, so all you're getting is a picture of the local soup where I was in Scotland*. But I digress.
This post may seem to be rambling, prevaricating and procrastinating but there's a reason - some of the best stories are the ones that Cannot Be Told. Sometimes you witness remarkable occurrences which embrace the humour and pathos of life, scenes which could (if written) become literary or cinema classics - events which really happened to you, which are emotionally true and press to be told. But the telling would compromise, embarrass, expose or demean somebody else. That makes them out of bounds. Some of the richest pickings in your life are Not For Public Consumption.
All you're getting is a dead duck. And now it becomes (as everything does) a metaphor - ripe for plucking but shot down in it's prime, potentially significant and wanting further examination, bundled up for the sake of decency and put out in the wheelie bin.
So where do we stand as writers? Do we 'publish and be damned' by running rough-shod over the feelings and reputations of others in pursuit of a 'good story' like tabloid journalists? Do we squeeze out every ounce of creative juice to camouflage the details as though our protagonists were part of a witness protection scheme? Do we wait until everyone involved is dead or demented? How far would YOU go and when would you stop?
* Historical note: Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell breakfasted at Cullen on 26 August 1773 on their tour of Scotland. Boswell wrote, "We breakfasted at Cullen. They set down dried haddocks broiled, along with our tea. I ate one; but Dr. Johnson was disgusted by the sight of them, so they were removed."