I was fishing for halibut in the shallow waters of Monterey Bay very close to shore. No one could hear what I was saying to myself. There were numerous stray concepts that needed to become better aligned, I knew that. Believe me, I wasn’t trying to fool anyone. It was a Friday, that much was clear. It may have been one of those holiday week-ends that include a Monday for commercial purposes. It is hard to say very much with a great deal of certainty when concepts are misaligned. I could see foreign tourists eating Continental breakfasts at outdoor tables on the Capitola Wharf. Many of them snapped pictures with handy electronic devices while chewing. Many mouths were simultaneously agape. Some were disgusting.
It was still early in the day but already hot, and only going to get hotter. Heat was good for the tourist business. Anyone with half a brain for merchandising knew that much. I had absolutely no doubt that included me.
I finished the joint I was smoking, wriggled out of my shirt, and inadvertently started the small boat rocking. I partially stood to pull my arm out of the sleeve in which it was stuck and made it worse. I was the only one who knew how odd my entanglements could become at times. I could not hear but I was able to imagine the tawny owl laughing his ass off from a perch high atop a palm tree on the beach. Yet, I suspected that if I caught a halibut he would swoop in to grab more than his share.
Then, the humpback whale who appeared from a certain distance to be light taupe, unless what he really was as a matter of objective fact was dark ecru, breached fifty yards away from me. I suspected the foreign tourists oohed and aahed in their different languages, although I was too far away to hear. It seemed as if the humpback whale was beckoning to me with a dorsal fluke. If not that, I don’t know what.
I do know, however, that the tawny owl and the humpback whale have shared numerous journeys along parallel paths, traveling separately but equally over millions of years, to the pair of twin spiral galaxies that provide the majestic backdrop for their luminous points of view amid the eternal color wheel as it spins, NGC3314a and NGC3314b.
Perhaps there is great deal of meaning to be found up there that becomes relevant to what is chronically stuck down here, and clotted with dirt, once sufficient elevation is achieved. Perhaps this potential applies kinetically for humans as well. Perhaps there will come a day when I will know more if never enough. The tawny owl has told me repeatedly, however, not to count on it.
But that did not mean I was going to ignore any real or imagined beckoning. I didn’t need to understand yet. According to the tawny owl, the first 500,000 years, for any species, are the hardest. Very few make it that far. Humans, he is certain, have no chance.
I pulled up my anchor and immediately started to drift. It was hard to tell, as is the case with pretty much all drifting, where I was going to end up. I thought, how do I get where I’m going, row the boat, or start my engine?
Often, what seems simple, is not. Even less often do the right tools for the job simply appear. That’s where a handy code of conduct that requires no iffy on the spot thinking helps. I know I may frequently bob and weave like a punchless prelim fighter, and meander into dead ends that lead to perilous rescue efforts, and wobble on issues that may seem important to some, though not often to me, but I can’t deny that I have learned most of the fucking shit that blows my mind on a regular basis from the savvy tawny owl. Where else was I going to learn that the very first human to let her backbone slip had her hands on her hips while she was shaking all of her dimensions in simultaneity at a most critical juncture? Where else was I going to learn that this same ground breaking human was trying to mimic a multiple figure-eight, the basic building block of the multiverse? A credible four year university? As if.
Once I learned that, and after I found out why my hips are attached where they are, and what they are there for, I decided it would be smart to believe pretty much everything the tawny owl told me, and proceed accordingly. And I have not regretted it since.
So, I started to row. It made perfect sense to me. I did not need to explain. I knew there was no way I was going to get the words right anyway.
I started out rowing against the tide. I’d been in that position many times before. My back was naturally turned. I could see where I was going in fractured glimpses. Closer up, the humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe had flashes of ebony in his folds, along with a shade of mauve to which wine grapes yearn. He smelled like a municipal bog nestled symbiotically beside a dump in greater Tijuana. The sweat from my effort started to drip deep into my ass but I did not mind the stink as much as the itching.
Then the whale breached again. Then the whale started to spew. All kinds of fucking shit came out of his mouth. It formed a spectral arc, though not a rainbow. Then the whale did not stop. The spewing, that is. I found myself getting closer.
I had known this day was going to come. The tawny owl had told me so one afternoon while he was laughing his ass off. He had said, “This humpback whale can be a tricky dude. He pretends he’s stand-up like a comedian. He’s kind of funny like you in that way.”
The humpback whale spewed oblongs and squares, krill and squid, gristle and bone. He spewed anodes and diodes, lifesavers and charms. There were laundry powders, luminescent gels, and cold medications. There were many shredded radial tires. There was a pink flamingo and a pair of opalescent flip-flops. There was moldy cheese, wavy gravy, fertilized eggs, lumpy clay. There was a ouija board, a telescope, a home erected set of monkey bars. There was brushed aluminum and stainless steel and an array of colorful alloy composites. There were studded leather belts, a leash, a collar, and satin high heel pumps. There was a lucite display featuring an extended family of plastic mamas and papas who were strapped in real tight. Their hands were tied. They came in a stunning variety of earthy tones. All of the mamas had outsourced tits. Big ones. The papas had absolutely no dicks showing.
I became quickly soaked by the rain of debris. I was not entirely surprised. The tawny owl had warned me, after all. I had a fleeting thought, though not for the first time, that maybe it’s me that’s partially in the way here.
I concluded that there would be no halibut visiting the vicinity anytime soon. I turned around ass first. But, my back stayed the same. Unfortunately, my front too. The tawny owl maintains that the absence of balance in humans stems from the lack of a tail. It’s not much of a way to get anywhere, that’s for sure.
As I returned to the wharf, a gooey trail of flotsam followed. It smelled as you can imagine. So did I. I tied up the boat and climbed the stairs to the pier. That’s where I was confronted by a big man wearing a batik sarong and rhinestone sandals. He outweighed me by a good hundred pounds. He was holding a spatula in a threatening manner. A disposable diaper dangled on the end of it where a pancake better belonged. That, he claimed, was because of me. He had apparently decided that all of the stink that accompanied all of the shit was my fault,too. He was not alone in his conclusion. There were others nearby, not as big, but lurking.
He said, “I already called the sheriff. You’re not going anywhere until he gets here.”
I said, “I can understand your misguided sentiment, sort of. But let me tell you how it really went down.”
I proceeded to unfold a comprehensive narrative that despite its manifold holes I thought sounded pretty darn good. I felt positively rapt if not 100% engrossed. I was already used to the smell.
After I finished my explanation, the big man sighed and said, “What the fuck.”
I said, “That’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along.”