The tawny owl was silent but I knew he was up and out there. He was perched in the redwood tree that grows near my back door, gauging the prickly currents of candescence that were arriving from the superimposed pair of spiral galaxies that contain the constellation Hydra.
My attention was temporarily averted by a blue jay that snapped a dragonfly out of mid-air. He demonstrated the ease of a lanky first baseman. It’s true that speed kills. I wished I could do that.
I was trying to think of something meaningful to say, something equal to the startling moment that could be, rather than the sodden moment that was filling my head with ovoid clods of sticky stuff. After my encounter seven miles from shore with the large eyeball of the humpback whale who was either light taupe or dark ecru, I was having difficulty maintaining concentration. I wanted to know what the whale saw in me. I felt positive there was something not too far below the surface that I was missing, something abstract, symphonic, pulsating. Perhaps we had ancestors in common. And I have to admit the silence was getting to me.
But at first, and then for a longer while that stretched uncomfortably into the future like a straight-jacket, zilch.
I had learned all on my own, however, even before I ever knew the tawny owl, that in any language, in a simple yet homogenized form that is easily bottled for consumption, ‘fuck’ is the universal word. It stirs, it rises, it boils. From that one thing, it is possible to extrapolate all things.
I said, “What the fuck.” It was not a question.
But, still, zilch.
Out of context stabs at communication, while speaking to no one, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, (DSM-IV), are often deemed sufficient cause for medication. But, I don’t buy that.
Next, only louder, I said it again, with the same result. That’s in the handbook, too.
“There’s one item I forgot to mention about my encounter with the humpback whale who was light taupe. Unless he was dark ecru,” I added.
Finally, the tawny owl spoke. He said, “I know all about it.”
“Does that mean you’ve been reading my mind again?”
“As if,” he snorted.
“Was that a snort I just heard?”
“You’ll be seeing him again. Next time, try not to spill your guts.”
After the tawny owl flew off, I was pacing indoors, swatting flies that seemed to appear en masse with a rolled-up newspaper. It is a well known cliche that you can’t do that effectively with an electronic device, nor wrap fishy garbage, or stuff undersized underpants, or uplifting bras, or packages containing unfulfilling codes
I did not mention to the tawny owl that I don’t spill my guts out in the open any more than 50% of the time. That makes the chances for next time not bad.
Indoors, when I say, “What the fuck,” I know exactly who I’m talking to.