Desktop background loads then fades out, Zenwalk 6.2, XFCE
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Barring the obvious of checking the desktop settings in the settings manager to make sure there is nothing weird there, I would check running processes to see that xfdesktop is running and doesn't quit. (Or right click on the desktop. If I recall, xfdesktop has to be running to get a right click menu.)
If you are running compiz, or another window/desktop manager, it could be interfering. Make sure xfwm is running correctly.