Posted on: August 16th, 2009 Our Whale We Call Home

by Michael Landis

Years of brine and spume have made us salty and unpalatable men. Should we ever return to civilization, it should spit us out. While we fishermen may feel ill-placed under this canopy of ribs and blubber, the fish schools speed and the hermit crabs scuttle, carrying out the functions of life unconcerned that their sea sloshes in the belly of an interoceanic whale. I fear one day it may be our whale we call home.

Nothing sates the whale. The stomach’s inventory ranges diatoms to dreadnoughts, restocked hourly. We have been privy to many fortunes (within the greater misfortune of being ingested) that we as petty fishermen would otherwise never taste. Scavenging from wreckages, we live luxurious lives: an elaborate costume set from Tartuffe; casks upon casks upon casks (only once have we intoxicated the whale, leading her to perform terrifying barrel rolls); a herd of milk-cows, while an astonishing bounty, were sadly unaccompanied any bulls; arbitrary billions in unspendable bullion.

Whales eat plankton, not riches. Thus, our opulence remains inseparable from the miasma produced by mountains decaying animal matter. The rancid stench first caused my eyes to water. Now I weep knowing I have been here so long as to no longer detect its smell.

She must be nursing; we are awakened at every hour to the reciprocal croons between her and her calf. A calf means there must be other whales. In fact, we have seen our whale swallow lesser whales like tadpoles. We wonder if lesser whales contain lesser men dwelling in their innards. And though none of us has verbalized this, we all tacitly acknowledge that we ourselves may be lesser men in a lesser whale. To dispel this solemn consideration, one fisherman joked that perhaps lesser men contain greater whales to which some laughed and some did not. I sleep as unsoundly were I sailing the Baltic or moored in the belly of a whale.

Our only celestial body, the blowhole, does not keep months as the moon does so we do not know how long we’ve been here. Some of the fishermen have invented whale-days to live in accordance to the aperture. Others use the portal for divine communion with the Lord, praying to negotiate an escape from purgatory. The galleons have been torn plank-from-plank and rebuilt into shacks, some going so far as to pen deeds. Between the milk, silk, and rum, most fishermen prefer this life of unaccountable excess to their responsibilities back in Helsinki. One fisherman claims it would be a veritable utopia “if only there were womenfolk for [procreation].”

None of us can estimate how many years have passed except by ridiculous whale-time. Every function of our lives revolves around this infernal whale’s habits. What she eats, we eat. What she breathes, we breathe. And now we’re civilizing in this microcosm. To think, an existence dictated by the whims of a whale.

I’ve constructed a ladder from baleen and seaweed. None of the other fishermen wish to leave, but I must escape. I am leaving through the blowhole come this whale-Saturday, be I delivered to the surface of the Baltic Sea, to the depths of the Atlantic, or to the prison of a greater whale.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

2 Responses to “Our Whale We Call Home”

  1. Rachel Green Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 1:36 am

    What a fantastic tale!

  2. Rachel Green Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 1:36 am

    What a fantastic tale!

  3. Brandon Bell Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Very nice story. I like the textured language and recursive elements in the narrative.

    Thanks,

    BBell

  4. Brandon Bell Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Very nice story. I like the textured language and recursive elements in the narrative.

    Thanks,

    BBell