Friday, May 4, 2012

A TALE OF THE BRINY DEEP......

I believe there is only one recorded instance of a man disappearing down the throat of a sperm whale. And that,  so they say, was an accident. Even though some of the big males are believed to reach eighty feet (maybe more), their throats are relatively narrow, built for small fingerlings and shrimp-like creepy-crawlies. Still, every so often a slightly different specimen comes along. One might have bigger flukes, or a blue toned hide. Another might sport long, tapering flippers. But some alterations happen on the inside..... Bigger lungs..... Stronger sonar..... A wider gullet. He's the one you don't want to meet, the one with the wider gullet.....


They say 'the accident' happened during the chaos of a hunt. Swift sleek whale boats cut through the icy white caps, racing toward their leviathan prey. Man the oars! Loose the harpoon! A scrimshaw come to life. Screaming gulls wheeled over head. Some cheering for the humans, others for the great fish. Now! Now! Now! Throw it! Throw it! Throw it! Then, after countless joint wrenching tries, a miracle happens and the 'dart' cuts deep... down through the blubber, into the flesh, as thick, beefy, almost red-black sauce bubbles out to spice the dark green sea.


The great beast moans and tears off.  Cold, numb fingers dig in, clawing onto splintered wood, raw, sharp hemp and terrified shipmates. Behold, the Nantucket sleigh ride, as six tiny man-things attempt to kill a 'dinosaur.'  


Perhaps Poseidon was bored that day? Or it could be that spirits from far off Serendip frolicked 'neath the waves. But the boy fell in. He thrashed about and screamed for help. Most sailors could not swim. Yet the strongest arm on New Bedford shores could not survive a sea like this. And so he began to drown. But the waves refused to take him, at least not like that. For the whale ascended, a mammoth fist poised to break free from the depths and smash the man-thing shell. Did it see him? Did it know? Did it care? What does it matter? In an instant he was gone. 


Those who study these things, gentleman like Mister Darwin, Dr. Lister and all the rest, speak of a swallow 'reflex.'  You've done it, to rid yourself of a troublesome bean skin, or errant fish scale. And the whale was no different. Finding this human irritant upon its lower mandible, it gulped. At  first, only a few buckets fill of water flushed down into the maw. But the boy's legs went with them. He shrieked and reached out for salvation. But none could save him, though no eye on board looked away.... Two heartbeats later, the second swallow took him. And the last thing he saw was the jaws closing before him, blotting out the clean, fresh, cloud streaked sky.


They say it takes seven minutes to suffocate. Could anyone, anywhere have possibly been more alone?.....


And now these same creatures were preparing to save the vampirina, Marianne.


God works in mysterious ways....


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