I was slumped low in a rickety swivel chair that was sticky on the outside, grimacing. My private business was coming undone, and showing. I did not ask for the identity of the poor sap who had been stuck in the chair before me. I desperately did not want to know any more details. My divorce lawyer informed me I was merely suffering from Post Family Combat Syndrome. When I asked for a prognosis, she said, “Meh.”
She looked like she could have been Jack Sprat’s wife who would eat no lean, tipping a solid two-sixty on the metric scale. Her eyes were cloaked inside of shadowy folds that could have passed for a stylish hoodie. Unless that was the Richter Scale.
She offered me one of the two incendiary hot pockets that she retrieved from the convenient microwave oven in her office. The intensity of the heat did not penetrate her armored facade. Although I could not read the packaging, I knew the hot pockets contained hybrid faux meat enveloped in a gooey beige gunk. The gunk oozed out when the flaky shell was pierced, and it crackled and sizzled. I can’t say for sure that dirty tricks were not turned. I could see that she was pleased when I declined. More for her, less for me, precisely what her credo intended.
I said, “I’ll probably need to seek a second opinion.”
She said, “If you do, it’s bye-bye baby, Cupcake.”
I already knew that most human interactions tend toward the messy side. Gunk does not discriminate. I was secretly repulsed by my divorce lawyer only because it is considered socially awkward to hate out loud in the open. She was hatched from a different breed than my criminal lawyer who was more of your everyday common sort of asshole. I’d known him for many years before I had been declared a dangerous environmental criminal by the Sheriffs Department of Santa Cruz County and in need of his pro services. He disliked my divorce lawyer, too. He had recommended her to me because she is so mean. He was never mean, only snide.
My criminal lawyer had effectively kept me out of the Santa Cruz County Jail except for those two nights when he did not. Under intense questioning, I held on tight to my story. I clenched my teeth and cinched firmly below my belt. I was proud to declare I knew nothing. I did not reveal my role as a traitor to my species in the war against human enablers of treacherous cats who murder beautiful birds. I vowed I never would. That still goes.
After I wrote my divorce lawyer another exorbitant check, I drove directly to the Pacific Ocean. I refused to come to a complete stop. I felt entitled. The ocean, however, once I jumped in, set me straight about entitlements. Sink or swim applies only on the surface, necessary but not sufficient. I gasped for air after a rogue wave knocked me not only silly but goofy too.
I will never admit that I went out looking for the humpback whale who appears to be light taupe, unless he is more accurately dark ecru, which was strictly prohibited by the terms of my release from jail, although I did. I paddled until I was way the fuck out there over my head.
I know that the humpback whale has a right to gripe. I know there are many good reasons why he can sing a wrenching blues like Nina Simone for twenty hours at a stretch. There are fewer than 60,000 humpback whales remaining in all of the oceans on the planet. There are more than 6,000,000,000 humans on the small desiccated patches of dirt and land that stick out and are left over. There used to be a lot more of them and and lot less of us. Most of them were killed by us. You know that’s just plain wrong, right? But is that my fault? Why do I have to be set up as the patsy who ends up in jail? I don’t know how the humpback whale expected me to fulfill my role to its full potential as a Benedict Arnold in the war against the human enablers of treacherous cats who murder beautiful birds while stuck in jail. I’m no less of any innocent bystander than the next guy, right? Aren’t we all? Isn’t it time to just get along? And cut a poor fellow some slack. And receive a stay out of jail card, too.
An hour before sunset I heard a pod of humpbacks tootling like a Branford Marsalis quartet, unless that was more like a Wynton Marsalis trio, but they were only passing through on the busy road to Baja. The humpback whale who appears to be light taupe, unless he more accurately registers dark ecru on the eternal color wheel, tuned in and dropped out of a similar pod back in the sixties when he realized that all of his spiritual needs could be fulfilled right here in Monterey Bay. He decided to stay put. What a turn-on of events that became. No more crossing hazardous shipping lanes for him. Especially once he found that mind blowing launching pad near Big Sur to boost his astral traveling.
The humpback whale who appears to be light taupe shared his observations in other galaxies with his friends the owls, of course, who roost at the peak of the food chain atop the superficial crust. That’s how he came to be such good friends with the tawny owl. No other animals on yucky dry land, where friction is such a constant obstacle, were able to get deep enough.
Unlike the tawny owl, the humpback whale who may in fact be dark ecru has never spoken to me directly, but I feel as if I am able get his drift. He cuts no slack. What goes around at great depth never stops. All of the free range bits from all of the elements in the multiverse have nowhere to go because they are already here and there.
The tawny owl frames the story a little differently, of course. “Swimming is cool,” he reiterates often, “but even whales know there ain’t nothing like flying high.”
I know where that leaves me and it’s neither very high nor deep. Contradictions are one of the major building blocks of the multiverse, after all. But, still.
I never did find the humpback whale that day. It is a little known fact that whales prefer astral traveling shortly after an equinox. Maybe that’s the reason why. I know I’ll never know.
In my search, I followed a flock of five hundred pelicans dive bombing a kindergarten of teeny anchovies west of Rio Del Mar. I watched four flaming otters fucking like animals with no wild hangups. I bounced on the swell like a clown wearing make-up until it was too dark to see. Once I became a traitor to my species, it no longer occurred to me to feel guilty. I felt free to pass and go. I felt lucky. I did not need to see no stinking proof or no more stinking badges, either.
I am pretty sure that the humpback whale who appears to be light taupe was watching me as I skimmed the surface, getting nowhere. I am equally sure he was laughing his blubbery ass off.
I have in my sleep, wrenched, torn, dislocated. I have been a putz and a schmuck, a nitwit and a boob. I have taken a great deal in stride. Waves have peaked without me and shit has stormed. According to the tawny owl, the most I can hope to achieve in my present state is the partial unlocking of my hips.
It may be neither necessary or sufficient but it seems like a lot to me. If less is more, I’ve got it made.
I know that I was satisfied when the day ended to still be out of jail.