“I will never leave you my baby, I am your mom and now my priority is you.”
It was early March at the Norway Coast. The water temperature was at thirty two degrees Fahrenheit or zero Celsius. The ocean was still invitingly cool. If it would get warmer, the whole pod would take off, swimming to Antarctica where waters were much chillier. They had a choice and could make decisions, and were very smart creatures.
She felt big and knew that anytime now she would produce a being that she would love, cherish and protect. It was wiggling and struggling inside of her and she was pushing her baby out, head first. Most orca whales gave birth to their offspring tail first, rarely the way she did. She was spinning and swimming in circles, faster at times, pushing her baby out. At some point she looked like a drill bit switched on high if you looked at it directly. She felt stretching and pressure down below her stomach near her tail as she made few loud distinct sounds. Her group mates knew what was going on with her and let her be by herself. They were all around but in the distance, looking like dark shadows slowly moving around her. She pushed while spinning and pushed again and again. She felt pressure and pain subsiding and a little baby orca male was getting borne as she let him out to the new world.
She had carried him for about seventeen months, but that was her job being a good mother. She was protecting herself all this time and the group was also protective of her. Orcas have pods inside a group established and if you are a part of it, you always stay together like a family.
He came out and at one point was disoriented and confused by his surroundings and slowly, he started to process the environment he was in by taking in the murky and enormously big ocean space. His instincts were kicking in fast and he thought that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with them all the time. His head throbbed as he swam away from his mother. He propelled deep down and stopped. There was no ending to it and he could go and go as far as he could, he thought. A moment later he realized that this was not what he wanted. He wanted to be with her as much as possible, be part of her life, be around her and make her happy, be part of a family.
He was getting familiar with his swimming and settings coming back from the deep. He came back with several hard strokes of his tail and got closer to her. She chattered. The two of them started to swim in unison; he was by her side now swimming in harmony with his mother. He felt free and happy to be out in the open. A few members of his pod propelled out of the water and up in the air twisting as they dropped down into the ocean hard pushing it from both sides of their massive and gorgeous slick bodies, making big foamy waves. She felt him at her nipples as he attached to her and started to eat. She started to slow down with her swimming in order to get her newborn comfortable.
The whole pod greeted the two of them. There were strokes, sneers, chattering and other sounds as well as slight touching of skin as her pod, one by one, passed by her. She felt happy and emotional.
~ 2 ~
“…and orcas do get like that!” Maurice heard the last of the sentence yelled by his skipper. Why was the skipper talking about orcas? He wouldn’t understand until later. “Hold the fucking ropes! And pull that bloody sock down” the skipper yelled again to Maurice who had spaced out watching the magnitude of the storm in the sea for the first time in his life. There was nothing like it, he couldn’t even compare it to anything. They, a crew of twenty, were approaching Norwegian waters in a midsize vessel. Maurice was the youngest one, recruited in Seattle, Washington. He was called the “clown” by the crew members since he was the newbie and serving for the first time. One of the members had gotten pregnant and so Maurice was the replacement picked from twenty standing and waiting in line. The job was big money, about thousands of dollars a month, which was not bad money compared to other jobs. Putting together a crew was critical in enhancing the chance of doubling the money earned on subsequent jobs when called for duty. The work was seasonal, dangerous and delicate, and extremely expensive for employers. Trust and the bond among the team were the keys to success at sea, as well as discipline and order. Maurice knew what his superiors expected in terms of order as he remembered his skipper Ian-Scott yelling in his face not a long time ago “You bloody cabbage you! You learn and observe and say nothing! This is bloody sea, with nowhere to go- you’re stuck with us now! Do what your superiors tell you to do and you be good, you bloody mustached face, you!”
He pulled and pulled harder, gloves on, with the other four around him grinning as they looked in his direction. “Pussy!” they smirked.
“Take your gloves off and be a man! Fucking pianist” Maurice heard.
“Love you too” Maurice whispered under his breath as he pulled down a weather sock that was serving as a wind vane or pointer. That was the only material in their water and metal world, OK maybe not only but to him it seemed like it, Maurice thought. They were making fun of him, ignorant of his capabilities. Maurice took his gloves off and regretted the minute he did that as he immediately experienced the roughness of the cable in his hands.
~ 3 ~
Since his early childhood, he was special in a way that most people weren’t, almost weird. Looking at the moving mouth of a fish, he believed he was reading and understanding what the animal was trying to communicate. He couldn’t tell anyone. He already suffered through laughing and bullshit from his friends and this cruel teasing followed him through his youth. He recognized and was able to distinguish the movements that fish’s upper and lower lip made while observing them as they swam. He almost heard them, he thought, by looking at the rapidly changing expressions of their mouth, but he couldn’t explain it to anybody. He was able to translate numerous different expressions where most people would just think they saw the fish breathing.
“Look, this guppy just said that his tank is better with a filter running, and the water is fresher. We have to change the water as soon as possible!” Little Maurice said to his dad excitedly.
“And what you are going to tell me next, my little cupcake? That they want to eat, again?” Dad retorted with slight annoyance in his voice.
“No dad! This little one says that she is afraid to be eaten, can you believe that? She answered as soon as you asked me whether they wanted to eat again, can you believe it?” Maurice replied innocently.
“No, I can’t” dad said
“OK, this pearl gourami, you see it? She is pregnant and will be giving birth in three days. She is frightened that her little babies will be eaten. You see, she is telling this to a Paradise fish, just watch. Watch how she is talking, follow her mouth dad. Please, let’s separate her?” Little Maurice pleaded.
Dad concentrated, but couldn’t see a thing, he said as he trailed off “I will do what I can, I see them swimming together, but…” but it was too much for dad, he would never understand. Seems like nobody understood.
“Mom! Mom! Come here” little Maurice yelled.
“I’m Busy!” came from the kitchen “your dad is there. What do you want from me? I know your fish talk, talk to your dad.”
Three days later gourami gave birth and little ones didn’t survive, his dad saw it but didn’t acknowledge it and didn’t want to talk about it at all, even when Maurice approached him.
“Dad” little Maurice was crying.
“Stop it, stop this nonsense please. Maurice! Come here!” dad said in an army tone. “Maurice!” dad said again and it was so official and formal that the little one got quiet. “You see. There is only one life with all things working together as one” dad said and continued “and with that we are the one to decide what is good and what is bad. Do you follow me so far?” dad asked with piercing eyes aimed at his son.
“Yes” Maurice heard himself say.
“We make numerous decisions per second in our brains and only one, the one we choose to act on in a certain moment in time is relevant. Can you imagine the amount of power going through your head? What I am trying to say is that we can control only certain things in our lives and anything else is controlled by nature. Fish, on the other hand are pets to us, enslaved by us without asking permission. Tell me why?” Dad asked little Maurice who was looking into the fish tank at that moment.
“Because fish could not talk back to us?” Maurice asked and continued. “It could only swim away” Maurice said weakly now understanding the point.
“You are right! Eureka! So, can you tell them something? Can you deliver a message to them?” Dad asked. Dad took Maurice’s hands into his and looked into his eyes as he pulled him closer.
“No, I can’t” Maurice answered.
“So, please, it’s enough. Let’s drop this subject until you will be able to talk to me and explain to me what you are experiencing with a level of comprehension.”
His parents were thinking that something was mentally wrong with him. Hell, everybody was thinking that being around him. He went to a few doctor’s visits and after a while was diagnosed with… nothing.
He snapped out of his childhood reminiscing, but he knew that now at 30 years of age he was making a difference in his life being a simple reporter for channel nine in Seattle, investigating fraud in the ocean. Apparently, there were a lot of rumors about hunting for orca whales in the North seas, but he didn’t know why he had been chosen as this was his first year in the news as a rookie.
He volunteered himself and was picked for this project and didn’t regret a second of it. One thing is to write about something remotely, not really feeling it, and another, writing about one of the most dangerous jobs by doing it yourself.
~ 4 ~
Ian-Scott had christened his vessel “Bobble”, after his daughter’s nickname. His daughter had given her life to save many others at war that just ended recently, twelve years ago. Ian-Scott survived as a marine and his daughter didn’t survive as a fighter pilot. Women had proven themselves during the war by taking on hazardous responsibilities that most avoided. One of them was a fighter pilot. Russians had started it, or so that was the common belief, and it had spread all over like a disease. He knew her story and the last letter from her to him was the most precious one. Ian-Scott had been awarded a medal of honor from two countries, Great Britain and Russia on behalf of his daughter’s courage, besides the medals that he earned.
Her act of courage was that she had stopped a train full of explosives moving towards Bayeux, on France’s border approaching D-Day. She just snapped one Messer and was heading to the base in her Spitfire when she realized that her gas tanks had been penetrated with bullets and were bleeding fuel and emptying fast. She was over a rail road looking for a spot to land when she got hit in the tail by another Messer and at the same time she had received a call on her radio informing her that a Nazi train with explosives would be near her site and that she should feel free to shoot it down. One of the bullets penetrated the cockpit passing through the metal and straight through her neck. She didn’t shoot, she couldn’t as she was out of ammo and she was dying. She made her decision right there and then. She went straight for that train blowing black smoke and making terrible sounds with its Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Like a rocket, gaining enormous speed, she guided her plane into the locomotive below. Ian-Scott couldn’t imagine even as a man, doing what his daughter had done in such an act of fearlessness. He was proud deep in his heart forever and if he had one last chance to talk to his Bobble, he would not know what to say, except that.
~ 5 ~
Maurice was fascinated at this moment in his life.
“Fuck me senseless!” Maurice said to himself while struggling with the weather sock. It didn’t look like a big job to him, but the situation he was in, being a new member of well-established crew and the upcoming storm, he felt uncomfortable. Maurice looked in front of him observing the wall of darkness, with foam on top, rising in a distance. He thought it was a crazy picture, the only thing that separated the sky from the ocean was a white smear of foam on top of the waves, with everything else pitch dark. One wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the ocean and the sky, since there was no difference, just blackness with no moon, nothing. He pulled the weather sock down as fast as possible not paying attention to the jokes around him and concentrated on what he had to do. He looked at his bloody hands by chance, not having felt them in the chilling cold weather. Next thing Maurice heard was a very loud scream quickly washed out by water that was dark, cold and endless. It hit him so hard that at one point Maurice thought that he was dead, even though thinking wasn’t even a possibility if you were dead. He was pushed, pulled, snatched and pounded while he was holding on to the secure rope in front of him, with the wall of water striking “Bobble” on its side trying to flip it over like a half of a walnut.
“Oh fuck! Oh!” Maurice heard a gurgled cry and looked in the direction of the incoming sound, after the first blow of ocean waves diminished and was coming back with another. One of the crew mates was shattered at the abdomen, almost in half, putting him in an awkward angle that human couldn’t be in. The crew mate, who Maurice thought was named Tim, but couldn’t recall with certainty, didn’t have a chance of survival. His security belt, like anybody else’s working on deck, was tightened around his waist and the other end was attached to another security cable that was spread throughout the vessel’s perimeter with a regular carabineer, as a precaution in circumstances just like this. Tim’s feet were touching his hands as he was bent in half backwards, flying three feet in the air before being snapped back again by the cable as he dropped on the vessel’s floor. Maurice saw it and in his head Tim looked like an amateur ballerina in Nutcracker or circus performer of some kind with gymnastic influence. The cry that a mere second ago was so thunderous, dissolved quickly. The wall of water hit hard only once making its deadly presence known. Then it hit again, but not as hard as the first time as it came down fast like somebody ordered it. To Maurice, it looked like this storm started with the sole purpose of creating death or to collect a body and take a soul.
“Bloody, fucking shit!” Ian-Scott yelled and went to see what happened to his crew mate, holding to the secure cable with his strong hands. The storm was still moderate and the skipper ordered everyone inside, just to be safe, except those on their shift on the bridge. Maurice hadn’t fully realized what had happened until the skipper appeared with a dead body in his hands, with one of the crew members helping him to carry it to the downstairs quarters. Maurice observed and was willing to help but it was too many man already rushing and surrounding the skipper.
“When you think you hate your life, think twice” flashed through Maurice’s mind for a split second. How many times had Maurice thought like that- he wasn’t able to recall.
“Put him down skipper, put him down. Let’s see what we can do!” Somebody yelled from the tightening crowd. Maurice saw the skipper turning white and green and all other colors as the skipper ran outside. Skipper was a strong but delicate man, Maurice thought. A few minutes later the skipper was back with a little bit of redness on his cheeks. There was dead silence as the lifeless body relieved itself, producing an awkward sound. Maurice was the next one to sprint out on deck. Nobody chuckled this time, never mind laughing.
~ 6 ~
She guided him deep and he was willing to observe and learn what his mother was trying to teach him. He knew a lot by now, not even knowing where it was coming from. He was able to record in his memory everyone in his pod, what was dangerous and what’s not, based on a situation. He also knew that he should keep close to the group and especially to his producer, mom. But, he wanted to eat all the time and she was happy providing him her food.
He went with her, so deep down to the ocean floor, they almost hit it. She propelled herself up and went out of the water and into the air, chattering, screeching and squawking; he tried the same. She was hungry and to feed herself, she had to have a good reason to eat what came her way. She was introduced to polar bear meat, not a long time ago. When she ate it, it made her different, not like anybody else in her group. Usually, the pod would feed on fish or leftovers from fishing boats, and sometimes penguins, but rarely seals and bears.
The whole pod was trying to hunt a school of fish and was swimming towards the shore in a semicircle, spread from each other but not so far away apart. It was before she had given birth. As the pod got closer to the shore of Svalbard Islands, they enclosed the circle and started to swim around, making fish disoriented and confused, as they brought fish in a tight ball close to surface and stunned the prey with their tail flukes. As they did that, each member of the group had a chance to eat and enjoy the food, taking big gulping swallows. She was not satisfied and curiosity got the best of her when she saw an animal in the distance feeding on their fish from one of the icy patches attached to the shore. She went under water and disappeared for a long moment inspecting ice patches floating around and looking from beneath. She found it and looked around for weaknesses in the ice above her. She did a deep dive before coming back and breaking the weak surface of the ice patch with her beak. The ice patch that was attached just moments ago to the shore became a floating island. She landed on one of the sides letting her prey slide down close to her. She was excited and she felt powerful, seeing how unprotected her prey was now, and how desperate it was for life. She went down deep again and came back up in the air landing on the chunk of ice, where her prey still lay helplessly. She brought the prey close to her as it slid and dropped on her head. The prey started to struggle violently as it got close to her, hitting and scratching with all it had, roaring and woofing. She almost lost her eye. She found the middle of her prey’s body in front of her and snapped it hard, very hard, crushing it instantly. She took the lifeless body under the water and carried it to her pod. Only a few took bites from her prey, including her. Orcas are very picky in their diet.
~ 7 ~
The storm subsided and darkness wasn’t that dark any longer. There was no rain hitting his face or water rushing through his body with the sole purpose of suffocating him, yet he had no strength in him to hold him on his feet, but he had to. Maurice was standing on the bridge finishing his shift and thinking how mankind is so fragile. Just not so long ago they had lost one from the crew. The reason they lost him was one being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tim had been a good sailor and had been with the crew for several years. He had been caught in a corridor or tunnel between two walls, one of them was the bridge wall, where the strength of the water had increased in pressure dramatically while it was passing through. He had been stranded there being unable to get away from the spot he was in.
Tim’s body was wrapped and carried into the freezer; the days were over when the crew would drop dead bodies overboard.
“I need to go for a minute” Pete said to Maurice as he let him hold the wheel. In his work book, which he took with him onboard, Maurice was recording everything that had happened since he set sail into the ocean.
“So, where was I?” Maurice was thinking “how people are fragile and how small and incapable he was and felt when the storm was in motion.”
“Hey!” Maurice heard a voice. Maurice was startled as he looked behind him. A fist smashed into his mouth with a dull sound. It was so sudden that Maurice didn’t have a chance to protect himself as he almost fell down hitting the wheel with his side while holding it with one hand. Another blow to his solar plexus knocked the wind out of him and Maurice fell on his knees gasping for air.
“Come on Patrick!” Maurice heard a zooming voice in his head after the blow “Don’t do this, stop dude…” Patrick was a bully that haven’t been caught yet by the skipper and was feeling powerful up until one point.
“What? You think he is special? We all went through this!” he said to Dave, another member of the crew, “and he is as good as us. He doesn’t shit chocolates, does he?” There was no answer to that. This quick moment was enough for Maurice to recover. Maurice was on his knees, a string of blood dripping from his nose, as he pulled himself together and head-butted his opponent in his crotch.
“Yap!...” came from Patrick’s mouth as he doubled over; a knee hit him in his head so hard that Patrick’s head moved violently back. Patrick fell down hard and stayed down unconscious, but before that Maurice’s fist hit Patrick on the side of his face. Dave took the wheel.
“I really hate this shit” Maurice said cleaning himself with napkins that were on the bridge.
“Go wash yourself; I’ll take care of it.” Dave said looking into the distance.
“What the fuck?” They turned around and saw Pete standing and watching them with genuine disbelief on his face.
“What the fuck is going on here? I can’t leave you for a few minutes to take a shit? Is he OK?” Pete pointed at Patrick still not moving on the floor.
“He is fine. He will be OK” Dave answered. Maurice was holding his nose and mouth while he passed by Pete on the way to the bathroom. Maurice came back in a few minutes all cleaned up, with red bags under his eyes, which he knew would become blue and green and eventually black, like raccoon’s eyes, in few days. Maurice felt proud of himself as he watched Patrick moaning. He got up and was steered out of the bridge with Dave’s help. Pete whistled like he was calling a girl.
“I think somebody learned his lesson today! Hope he did!” Pete said looking in front of him through the glass, grinning. Maurice was watching also. Nice size waves were knifed by Bobble’s bow in front of him as they kept moving to their destination.
“Hey listen…” Pete was trying to say something and was caught in mid-sentence
“No, you listen! There is nothing to talk about and I don’t need pity from anybody. I am a big boy and understand what’s going on. I don’t hold any grudge for anybody and I am not going to report any of it to the skipper, even though he instructed me to do so. You guys are the family and I am the intruder, it’s as simple as that. I was in the army and I know what it is. Did I pass my test? And you can tell Patrick that if he ever approaches me again, it will be the end of him and he will be in the freezer with his pal, unless he wants to do it when I don’t see it coming, like a pussy. But in that case he would have to kill me for sure.”
~ 8 ~
Maurice finished his shift and was going back to his quarters, grabbing his breakfast on the way. The skipper was in the galley, watching and talking to the crew.
“What the fuck happened to you? You bloody panda, you?” the skipper folded his hands across his chest while asking and drilling Maurice with his look, pinning him with his eyes.
“I slipped and hit the wheel with my head”, Maurice responded.
“How, am I not surprised?” the skipper shot back.
“What else are you going to tell me, you bloody mackerel you? This story is a legend on my ship. You are not the first one. By the way, I saw the other one, what do you think I am stupid and don’t know what’s going on? Now I know who it was this whole time. I will issue a warning to Patrick and if he slips up again, he will be out from the crew. I just can’t be in multiple places at the same time, but you know what Maurice? Keep up the good work you bloody craw-fish you.”
“Thank you Sir.” Maurice said in return, not showing any enthusiasm or emotion at all. To Maurice, it was a simple fight like many he had been in; on the street, in school and in combat. Maurice grabbed his food and went into his cabin. He felt the skipper’s eyes on the back of his head drilling him as he left the galley.
“I am really proud of you” Pete said putting down his magazine as Maurice entered the cabin. Pete was his bunky after all.
“It’s not the time to kiss ass, man” Maurice answered and continued “I have only a few hours to sleep before I have to be on another shift. Thank you for the help and what not.” Maurice was wolfing mash potatoes with sausage down his throat as he realized that he was short with Pete.
“Sorry man, I am just really tired and this asshole made me even more tired. I didn’t mean to cut you off.” Maurice gobbled the food in his mouth and swallowed.
“I understand” Pete answered slightly nodding his head.
“So, what’s the story?” Maurice asked with interest and continued “Nobody had a fight like this before?”
“No, we did, it just didn’t leave any visible marks on him. But he is a tough and fast son of a bitch. In my case, I was only able to hit him once.” Pete trailed off in his thought as he looked at the night bulb, enclosed in a wired cage, which was producing a dim yellow light.
“You know what the skipper said?” Maurice asked after a few seconds of silence passed by.
“I think I can suspect, but go ahead, fill me in, scratch my brains.”
“He said that he would issue him a warning and even the slightest fart the skipper would not like, could cause him to kick Patrick off the crew. The skipper had not used these particular words, but the idea was close enough. Apparently the skipper didn’t like the fights and was trying to figure out who was involved in these clandestine fights.”
“And when he saw both of you with your bruises, he put two and two together.” Pete finished the sentence for Maurice.
“I guess it was a no brainer; one was holding his nuts and another one looked like a raccoon.” Maurice started to giggle as he looked at Pete and Pete joined him and they started to laugh. When the laughing subsided, Pete asked
“I feel that you don’t want to talk about the skills you possess?” Maurice didn’t respond, as if the question had never been raised.
A few minutes later, Maurice was brushing his teeth and setting an alarm. As soon as he was in the horizontal position in his berth, he felt his feet filling with blood; warmth was spreading through them tickling his limbs. Maurice was immediately out sleeping deep as soon as his head touched the pillow with arms crossed on his chest. He didn’t have energy to even write his thoughts down in his work book, he didn’t even finish his prayers. Among all the thoughts in his head, not a single one was regret, allowing him to be free with his life and go chasing idealistic pursuits that consequently had led him to the circumstances he was in.
~ 9 ~
He was a part of the pod and he observed members of his group with interest. He was trying to learn from anybody, not just his mom. They were searching for their food, swimming around, plotting. He realized that all pod members worked together and communicated between them, giving and receiving commands and orders. He thought there was nothing else in the world and he was happy to be who he was. His mom taught him some of the essential commands and the rest, he learned watching others. He liked the freedom water gave him, and he was moving very independently now. If his mom wasn’t around, one of the pod members would be around him at all times substituting for her, but it rarely happened. At this point he was the only baby in his group. He also noticed that male members were not only protective, but also gentle to females and interacted and swam among them. There was never an argument or fight between them. Another thing he noticed was that when the group hunted the fish, females were allowed to eat first. Respect floated around the pod just like the water that surrounded them as they moved from place to place.
They moved slowly as they researched the area. The group didn’t want to move from their area yet. The place they were in, usually provided enough food for them, and was able to hold them attached to it for a significant period of time.
The intruder was a huge Greenland shark that usually was not an issue. They usually came and went in these waters and this was the first time they witnessed it staying and showing its presence for a significant amount of time. It was enough time for the whole pod to start thinking about how they could get rid of it. The answer came fast and unexpected.
She couldn’t find him and was confused and paranoid; it took her only a few minutes to realize that something was wrong. Her baby was gone.
~ 10 ~
He heard them plotting on how they could catch the big and fast intruder, when he already had a plan; he would bring “It” to them. And he did. He went on a mission and spotted the massive dark body of the shark not so far away from his group. It was behind one of the icebergs, that looked huge under the water and not quite as significant on top, and he was surprised at first to come fairly close to it as he rounded the chunk of ice. The murky ocean waters made the shark body look bigger, twice its size, he thought. It was cutting dark, widowed waters around in head-dizzying circles as he got close and started to move in a somewhat chaotic way, showing and making his opponent think that he was wounded and helpless. He passed a string of signals, hoping that they reached his group, as a massive body in front of him stopped abruptly, with its tail twisting from left to right as the body stood still, mouth extending in huge O exposing several rows of triangular sharp teeth, jaws working in a rolling motion. When Greenland sharks catch something bigger, for example an adult tuna fish, the upper jaw worked like an anchor, holding their prey, while the lower jaw did the cutting. It was the second time in the baby whale’s life when he got scared. His survival instincts started to kick-in as he watched his opponent in the gloomy distance, wiggling its tail, watching him, preparing for a move.
He moved first, as instincts directed him, turning around very fast. He felt bones in his body move so fast that he couldn’t imagine it was possible. Moving fast and changing the pattern of his direction, he got close to his pod as they were spread before him in the distance and moving towards him. The shark was gaining on him faster than he thought possible, and only now he realized how unprepared he was. At one point the shark expanded her mouth with sharp teeth snatching at his tail and leaving a bloody mark. His pod group noticed him and he was happy turning around before reaching his group and seeing their intruder being ambushed. They crunched into its flesh, all of them, almost at the same time. Blood was seeping into his throat as it was a new feeling and experience in his life. The shark tried to move but the number of attackers was one to many. Pieces of the shark’s body had been snatched and swallowed, making the shark look like a stick of Swiss cheese. At one point the whole pod was enclosed in a mist of bloody water. From the distance it looked like bloody aura was spreading like spider’s web around them. He smelled and tasted it and was thrilled to discover a new feeling called power or so he thought.
As time passed and the shark’s flesh was consumed almost to the bone from its body, he was met with a pair of eyes, full of questions, drilling him. She guided him away from the subsiding feast and when they were some distance from the pod, she pushed hard into his side and chattered again and again. Split seconds later she was moving around him slightly brushing his body with hers. He was punished, he understood but at the same time, not really. Fish would be back to these waters soon enough, as the danger of a shark’s presence was gone and it would not be long until the fish would realize it. He did the right thing, but understood that it was too early for his age to do what he had done. They were back to their group and they all admired him. He felt so high experiencing another type of feeling that power could give you. He went up to the surface, breaking it and propelling high in the air, turning and landing on his back. A few group members did the same, but for different reasons, he thought, maybe they were itchy as he felt it too sometimes. All of them recognized his effort, but they were also concerned, orcas aren’t irrational species- they are totally the opposite. They are smart, clever and cunning when it comes to hunting. What he had done was out of the ordinary and he was just a kid, a kid, who read the minds of an adult whales who should have done what he had just done.
~ 11 ~
“What could be more beautiful than the scene where you have a clear blue with no clouds and an endless sky, sun shining, but not burning, just slightly blinding your eyes, and the ice, all around you, the ice in the water as white as papier-mâché sometimes resembling swans, and other times white sloppy triangles? Despite its beauty, it was tremendously cold- perhaps negative thirty Celsius which is about negative twenty two Fahrenheit.” Maurice’s head wheels, or brain rattles were rolling in his head. Maurice was thinking and calculating, watching the sea in front of him. Witnessing his crew member being killed, elevated some thoughts, as for the storm itself, now he was thinking that somewhere deep inside his guts he was actually scared. Maybe scared was too strong of a word, maybe it was more like uncomfortable.
It was a feeling that he recalled from his army days when he would go on missions to the German side or be directly in the line of fire. What Maurice had like about his job was capturing German officers of high ranks and bringing them back to the base. What he loved about his work, was deception. He had skills in both. There would be weeks of tedious preparation, starting with the decision of who would be targets for capture and what would be backup plans. These planning sessions and operations involved many people.
After the decisions were made, the insertion of the team at critical times would be the next big step in addition to all the smaller ones in-between. Intelligence gathering, throughout the entire process, was never enough. Capturing an officer of high rank from the field or the office required having as much information as possible and to get enough information was critical and difficult. Maurice knew German and was usually inserted two times in a single operation.
Once, for extraction of information after finding the right source who would talk. On the field, Maurice would be inserted as a German soldier in the unit where a battle just ended or was about to start. It was a little bit of a chaotic time, and usually opened an opportunity to implant yourself with minimal suspicion. Maurice would blend in and would find somebody to gather information from as well as being able to observe his surroundings. Little blueprint-like charts would appear in Maurice’s head consisting of details of the camp he was in, structural and landscape areas, guard shift changes, posts assigned to the soldiers, and even mundane details such as the meal and shower schedule. Maurice was taught to never write anything down on paper, even in code. Only in his head he would hold as much information as he would learn. He was also preparing himself and his crew for extraction of the officer by being inserted into the belly of the beast for the second time.
He had lost his left earlobe, and his nose possessed a deep scar at the eye line making it look like a gap you couldn’t jump over if you imagined it to be a gap the Potomac River and you as small as an ant.
It was kind of a jagged looking scar. Maurice was the head of the extraction team on the field. The helicopter was too low as he was always the last one to climb up. One of the bullets took grazed his earlobe and one of his men’s life as he was pulled up holding the rope with his hands and feet. Before reaching the helicopter he was knocked down by a now dead German’s shmizer gun smashed right in his face, straight and hard. The blow he felt was astonishing, with pure metal hitting him between his eyes. This was a blow most people would not remember the day it happened, but he did.
~ 12 ~
Everyone spoke in the German language.
Applauses and clapping…
“Diese Kinder sind urkomisch, meinst du nicht?” “These kids are hilarious, don’t you think?”
“Erzählen Sie mir davon. In der Mitte des Krieges wie diese? Do hören Lieder gesungen werden, so weit weg von unserem Land?” “Tell me about it… in the middle of the war like this? To hear are songs sung so far away from our country?”
A boys’ choir was visiting that day and his son was in the group. He was proud of his son and had plans to spend time together before the choir would leave back home.
Maurice didn’t like the rain, dirt and coldness in the August air.
“Acknowledge your positions?”
“Shh, beep, peep.” came from the side radio in Maurice’s chest pocket. “Roger that” followed with the position number. “…We are going in in five, four, three, two, one…Go!” They weren’t rushing anywhere or forcing anything, just executing their plan “A”. The tent where the officers and soldiers were gathering was set on fire; people were rushing out as they grabbed the right officer and went in different direction. Everything was going well until the realization of what had happened took place and a pair of eyes watched them leave.
He was coming out of the burning tent casually, blending in with the crowd. As Maurice changed direction and went toward the woods and place where his crew was waiting for him, not paying much attention, crouching and looking down, he got hit in his face so hard he couldn’t even exhale for a moment.
“How had they found out so quickly?” he asked himself, as he remembered laying on the ground bleeding. The Germans were very tedious and cowardly, yet strong. He thought his face was split in half, not just his nose. Maurice went down, but was able to stay conscious; some years of Special Forces training had given him that ability. With his peripheral vision, even though his eyes were filled with tears and blood, Maurice was able to see a little boy standing in the distance, watching him while shaking wildly. “Jungen Geh weg! Nicht in der Nähe hierher zu kommen! Gehen!” “Go away Jungen! Don't come near here! Go!” His father screamed.
As he was down on the ground and his opponent on top of him bending down, Maurice was trying to think of what could be done in the situation he was in. Even though, Maurice had a pistol, it was hard to get to it at this point. A sharp kick to the solar plexus with his boot made his opponent bend even more towards Maurice, followed by an uppercut to his opponent’s jaw causing his opponent to fall on his side. Maurice had his berretta 22 already pulled out from his calf holster as soon as the German’s body hit the ground beside him. He shot the German in his head, twice, before grabbing the rope and then once on the rope losing his earlobe to the psycho that could not die. Throughout the entire time, the boy was standing there, in the little distance, shaking and crying.
“Papa” faintly at first, then much louder “Papa, papa, papa!” the boy yelled as he whimpered and trembled standing still in his place before placing eight fingers of his both hands in his mouth and pulling his lower jaw down, tears streaming down his eyes. The boy looked like a little straw attached to the ground trying to survive a hurricane and not being pulled out and sent into oblivion.
Maurice went down the rope and shot the German bastard a few more times, not paying attention to the kid who was watching him all this time. To Maurice, pronouncing a war was war itself, there was no fucking around now. It wasn’t pleasure. There was satisfaction knowing that at this moment there was one fanatic less in the world who wanted the war. According to the markings on his uniform, this German was an SS operative. “Wie viele hast du getötet?” “How many have you killed?” Maurice screamed angrily kicking the German’s body with his boot.
Maurice picked up the body of his man and strapped it to the rope while being hit in his left shoulder and left butt cheek by shrapnel from a grenade. There was no time now, they had to move and move quickly. Next, he strapped the officer whose hands and feet were secured and his mouth gagged. Maurice restrained the German officer before he was hit in the face. When both he and the officer came out of the tent, Maurice was covering the officer’s mouth tightly with his hand to prevent him from screaming. To the others it would appear as if he was protecting the officer from inhalation of smoke. The rain has subsided and dark grey clouds departed as the bright sun came out into the open releasing them from the embrace of the feeling of being in heavy lead-like coffins. He remembered looking at his departed friend from below. The helicopter was steady in the air, sun out of the clouds and the body of his friend being pulled up. It looked like Frankenstein’s creation was reborn and being sent for another session of electricity. His hands were wobbly, Jesus! The whole body was wobbly, and his head was on its side. As the body was pulled up closer to the helicopter, Maurice noticed a bright halo around the corpse as it rose and was framed against the sun in the horizon. It looked like a painting of something rising or falling perhaps, depending on how one looked at it. A shiny web of light glistened around the body, spreading its lightened rays in the background and making it impossible to look at. Just like snow in the Alps, blindingly-bright that without goggles the eyes could not adjust to.
The boy’s eyes met his for a moment as Maurice climbed up on a rope he strapped himself to. He couldn’t pull himself up since he was injured. The boy ran to his father and took the same gun in his thin, wire-like hands. The boy started to shoot. The shmizer gun moved feebly and violently in different directions in his weak hands, like in a slow motion picture. As Maurice was pulled up, the sun went into the prison of dark-heavy clouds again.
“I am not a killer!” Maurice kept repeating it to himself and continued “I did what I was supposed to” he was trying to calm himself down. The seven seconds rise to the helicopter’s belly seemed like forever to Maurice. He was in this trade and this was his first time dealing with the family members, and the kid. “That god damned kid. Where did he come from? How did I miss it?” Germans were talking about some kind of surprise but he wasn’t able to “decipher” their plans completely. He put himself mentally in the situation the eleven year old child was in. Sobbing came out from inside of him; he couldn’t even drop a tear, but cried intensely.
A swishing and swooshing sound of bullets around Maurice’s body made him shout to pull him up faster and with that he was thinking that this was it. He was done with the army and would pursue his journalism career, which he had started before the war, even if it seemed impossible to him then.
Maurice looked ahead of him through the glass as he stood on the bridge, going over his thoughts again and the seeing the boy’s face present, as it always was. He heard himself say quietly “I am not a killer”. He had survived from a close call with death, but he promised himself he would never tell this story to anybody. Reading fish’s mouth, well, he was thinking he may share this ability with his bunky Pete, but not yet. He didn’t want to remind himself of his school days. “We are the fisherman, right? So, when the right time would come and they would trawl fish, I will tell him” Maurice said to himself.
Bobble was slowly approaching its destination. Bobble was a simple German factory made and named “Kiel NC 102”. She was gorgeous. She was a bottom trawling fishing vessel. The gates on the back of the deck would open and the trawl net would be deployed into the ocean. The net appeared V shaped, wide and long in 3 dimensional views. It looked like the weather sock Maurice was pulling down recently, but not that kind of color and a lot bigger in size. Two lines, a headline on top and a foot rope on the bottom, would go across in a semicircle, connecting to the left and right trawl doors. The long end was called the Cod end and this is where all the fish would be collected. When seen from a distance, this piece looked like a cone at the end.
Painted black in the middle, and white from the middle up, and red from the middle down, Bobble approached Norway waters. In the early morning the ocean looked golden-red on the surface as the sun started to rise on the horizon and as it rose higher, Maurice noticed that ocean colors had changed to a silvery hue and later had gotten darker taking its natural state. This was his first shift in the morning and the scene was so beautiful and perfect that Maurice was fascinated by it until he was taken out of his reverie by a heavy hand that landed on his shoulder followed by a heavy tobacco smell that hit his nostrils from behind. It was the skipper.
“So. How are we doing? You penguin you”
“Sir, all is in order!” Maurice exclaimed straightening himself up while still looking ahead of him. The skipper came around to Maurice’s side and looked at him with approval on his open, weathered face.
“Sir, may I ask you a question?” Maurice asked turning his head to the skipper now.
“Go ahead you krill you” the skipper said pulling another cigarillo from his jacket pocket and rolling it between his fingers.
“We have been to the sea for some time, but our nets are dry and we are not catching any fish, why is that?” Maurice felt like a child when he asked this question. The skipper just laughed and when he finished said “you wanted the job, right?”
“Yes Sir!” Maurice answered with an army like tone.
“So, you being an apprentice should know how not to ask stupid questions! Two tours of duties out of turn for you! And you?” The skipper pointed his finger with the cigarillo at Pete “will make sure he has done it and it’s recorded in the log” With that the skipper turned around and left the bridge to his other morning checks. The log book would have all the recordings summarized during the day and written into it on an hourly basis. Maurice thought he needed to go through the log when he would have a chance. Something was badgering Maurice’s mind- something just wasn’t right. He wasn’t afraid of his penalty. The army had taught him to adjust to as many situations as possible and being a rookie soldier he had washed a lot of toilets in his first six months. In this case it was something else, he just couldn’t place it.
~ 13 ~
Coldness can’t be felt with a certain body fat composition and to survive you have to accumulate fat as fast as possible. This could also act as your resource in case there was no food around for some time. He was moving his black and white body graciously beside his mother. He was still nipping on her nipples from time to time but at the same time, after experiencing or tasting the shark he couldn’t hold his mom’s milk any longer. He was rapidly becoming an adult, he noticed. As the group got closer to the islands, he noticed dark shadows over him. The whole group went up to the surface to meet humans. That’s what they were called. They showed their backs to them and were greeted with claps and standing ovations. To him these creatures called humans were nothing. Why can’t I just flip the thing in which they were standing, over? There were many of them in floating things he had never seen before. His mother was right there, perhaps reading his son’s mind. She moved him away from them in order to cool him down a notch. He was ready to go up and hit that thing with his beak, but was stopped at the right time. He was astonished to realize how his mom would be the one to hold him down and understand what he was trying to do. He received messages from his group and all his excitement faded away as fast as it came. He went up again and looked at them. Unprepared for anything, they stood watching them in their little something that floated. He went around one kayak with humans, showing his black slick back with a slightly backward tilted triangular fin. They are friends, and they will not harm you. They are humans his mom communicated via a signal she sent to him. He went around showing himself off. He played a “catch me if you can kind of game” as he moved between kayaks and canoes. He felt something brushing his body again and again as he glided silently around little floating things he had no name for. He felt good at this time and he felt big and powerful. He could do anything to these creatures, called humans. He felt another type of power right now, he felt invincible. He looked at them while swimming around and was surprised to see no fear in their faces. The lack of fear indicated they did not feel threatened by him as a predator, but he was and they should feel afraid. He would crush those so called humans in seconds, all of them, and he didn’t trust them. He had felt this kind of feeling that something was not right and out of place with humans. His mom was right there pushing him away again. He gave a signal that meant he would behave and she let him separate from her. He went around and spotted a very tiny human standing in the floating thing, waving its limbs around in greeting, shouting something to him he could not understand. Those human signals were undecipherable to him, but also intriguing. He got closer to the floating thing and stopped by it looking at the little human who was separated with a slight distance from the bigger ones.
~ 14 ~
She put her hand on his back and screamed in excitement. “Whoop, whoop” he heard, dulled to a faint volume in the water “Whoop, whoop” she exclaimed as she stroked his back with her little hand. Now he realized what was touching his body before- human limbs. Now he wanted to be touched again and he got closer to the floating thing even more. This human was making him happy now. She was scratching his body all over, which was just what he needed. He rolled around showing his belly and she was so excited, as he equally impressed by her behavior. He heard more “Whoop, whoop” sounds. He took note of the time in his head and swam away. The next day he was nagging on his mother’s brains to swim to the same place and after all she went with him. The human from the previous day was standing right there in her floating thing looking for him. He did a few rounds around her, showing off again and got closer to the floating thing he had no name for. She stroked him and scratched him again and again and again, laughing in excitement as he was turning around like a hot dog on a grill. They were meeting everyday now in approximately the same location. For some reason he wanted it and was patiently waiting until the time to swim would come. It was going well and he had a friend now, who was committed to him. On a recent occasion, he came to the same place and was surprised not to find her. Different humans were floating around in things he had no name for. He went around them looking for his friend in desperation, checking every human and stopping by each floating thing for a while. She wasn’t there and he felt sick like something was missing in his life. He got to his mother and stayed with her for the rest of the day. She was surprised to see him like this and also knew that it would eventually happen. She sent him a few signals explaining that she wasn’t able to describe at the time that this would happen as he was so excited. Now it should be a lesson for him not to get too close and keep your feelings confined to your pod members only. She turned around and swam away from him to give him some space even though space wasn’t an option at all. He was startled with his emotional state. He thought it was a lot to handle as he was experiencing different feelings in rapid succession. He was still grieving before he heard the noise of massive propellers approaching in the distance. It was still far away but it got the pod’s attention. Something was approaching their waters and moving in their direction.
~ 15 ~
Maurice took his tray with food and went in the direction where Pete was sitting. The galley was clean and bright in the morning sun. Basic, white painted walls with few amateur paintings of the ocean on three out of four walls glistened and spawned sun bunnies which were dancing all over the galley and their visitors. Benches and tables, attached to the floor in case of storms, were painted blue. The tables had white diagonal stripes resembling the flag of Scotland and the letter “X”. The floor was light grey so that the dirt would be visible if not clean enough and to keep each shift preoccupied maintaining it. The skipper always repeated when he had a chance
“Bloody kitchen is a bloody face and I don’t like my face to be bloody.”
Maurice got to the table and set his tray on top, opposite Pete. As Maurice sat himself down on the bench, from the corner of his eye he saw Patrick, the bully, approaching his table making his way towards his spot. Maurice was prepared when two of Patrick’s fingers aimed to poke at his plate of mashed potatoes as Patrick passed by. Maurice was ready for Patrick’s act so he quickly reached for Patrick’s right hand pointer and middle fingers and snapped them, most likely breaking them in a few places. Maurice continued to very quickly twist them with his left arm a few times in different directions. Patrick was watching as it happened with disbelief as the pain not having registered yet. While Patrick was distracted in confusion, Maurice’s back of the head smashed Patrick’s face under the chin as he stood up pushing Patrick slightly backwards. Patrick took few steps back which gave Maurice room and time to turn around, step over the bench to face his opponent. Patrick resumed a boxer’s position and threw his first punch with his left arm at Maurice weakly. Patrick went pale in the blink of an eye and was trying hard not to go down or give up and continued what he started. Maurice knew the feeling as he went through it as well; eight fingers out of ten of his hands were broken at different times and circumstances of his life. Maurice saw his victory already, he could sense it. To get it over with as quickly as possible and spare the confused crew’s time, Maurice bent his two hands at the elbows moving them close to his body and with all strength that he had delivered a tremendous punch into Patrick’s face with his right foot boot, bending back slightly. The crew was rushing to them now but it was too late. Both of Patrick’s hands dropped down to his sides as he fell back on the clean floor of the galley, straight like a stick hitting it hard with his back and the head. Blood started to ooze on the floor from both sides of Patrick’s face which was messy now and resembled cauliflower. His nose was definitely broken, lips split, right cheek totally damaged. Directly underneath the right eye he now possessed a deep and open wound about two inches long, the same across down on his chin’s left side. Maurice could knock him down cold by moving his foot a little bit lower hitting Patrick under the nose. The nose bone would penetrate his skull and most likely he would be dead instantly. This thought passed away quickly in his head. Maurice was standing reluctantly watching Patrick go down unconscious. A few of the crew members, including Pete, ceased Maurice to prevent further interactions and moved him to one of the corners. Maurice didn’t resist or fight back. The rest of the crew surrounded Patrick. The skipper was there in the crowd glancing back at Maurice from a distance. After a while the skipper walked up to where they kept Maurice.
“You didn’t have to hit him that hard you bloody squid you” the skipper said more irritated than usual, but not quite angrily.
“Sir. Well, now I am the bad guy? Right? Because the other one’s unconscious and only I can explain what happened?” Maurice was angry as he felt that the skipper switched sides.
“Absolutely not” the skipper replied and continued “I am more kind of, how would you put it” skipper trailed off searching for a phrase standing straight and tall. The skipper was rocking on his feet from front to back slightly.
“If you say something you would do then do it kind of fellow. Just like you. I hope Patrick learned his lesson and he will be dismissed from this crew as of…” he paused looking down at the floor “immediately, it’s done, I am sick of this shit” the skipper furiously declared as he destroyed the cigarillo in his hand and simultaneously pulled a new one from his pocket.
“Fucking A!” the skipper exclaimed “You see what it does to me? I am getting angry! This son of a bitch makes me angry, I know him for so long.” Sadness was visible on the captain’s face.
“Skipper, may I talk?” Maurice asked also standing wide and tall.
“Do you know that in a bucket filled with apples, most of the time one can find a rotten one?”
“For some reason, you mustache monster you” the skipper paused slightly and continued “I was thinking you were going to say something like that. Why?” the Skipper squinted his eyes at Maurice who wished passionately that the skipper would not light up his cancer stick. It was a rule even for him, not to smoke in the galley, period.
“Great minds are thinking alike!” Maurice exclaimed moving both his shoulders up with his hands down showing his palms to the skipper.
“God dam, good answer my boy, there is no better way to put it. I want to see you at eighteen hundred in my office. Don’t be late, I hate it.” The skipper turned around as he always did and left, lighting up his cigarillo immediately as he stepped outside. Maurice knew that he had won the skipper’s heart. After his shift was finished, Maurice had some free time on his hands, which meant he could be by himself again. He pulled his journal out and started to write looking at the ocean below from time to time. In fact, he had to write in two journals, one for work and another as his hobby, since he was a journalist.
~ 16 ~
Standing on the deck, Maurice went back in his thoughts to his first interview as a journalist.
“What does it take to be a journalist?” He was asked his last question at channel Nine news station in Seattle. He remembered taking his time with this question.
“I can give you about ten points on that, when can I start?”
“You can start now” the interviewer, Tom, said putting his glasses down on a table and looking at Maurice with sincere interest.
“Ok, here we go. One, be right. Two, be first. Three, stick to what you know. Four, keep it simple. Five, play it straight. Six, know your market. Seven, be aware of the competition. Eight, be disciplined. Nine, be realistic and finally keep in touch.” He stopped and looked around in each interviewer’s eyes with confidence. The days when he was a soldier came to be handy. Discipline and the rest of the mentioned were the keys to success in the military. Actually these points could be applied to any trade or occupation, Maurice thought. After all he was hired. Maurice was in a good mood as he came down the stairs, when he met her eyes as she was going up and dropped one of her folders. He helped her pick her papers up as she spoke.
“At least somebody’s happy in this building” It wasn’t a question and yet it sounded like one.
“I just got the job” Maurice replied with genuine happiness on his face, making his mouth go wide and the corners of his mouth crawl up to his ears.
“It means somebody lost it” she said firmly and looked at him with very serious expression on her face.
“Yeah, I think you are right. I didn’t think about it. You know, when I got it…” she cut him off with her kind of dull laugh. She was holding her papers under her arm with both palms of her hands covering her mouth, like in prayer.
“I was just kidding, silly!” she exclaimed and continued “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like this, but you looked so vulnerable and an easy shot. I am Helen, Helen Pavlowitz, I am checking facts after journalists like you on the field are done with their part. We are an army of three and I am in the lead.” she said as she extended her hand. He was confused taking her hand as he looked into her eyes.
“Maurice LaFleur” he heard himself say, now feeling better and smiling again. She got him; she got him by the balls he thought. But how? He had so much experience with people gained during his army days.
“For a moment you got me there” he said and started to laugh and she did too, still shaking their hands. They saw each other for the next two months before he went on his first mission as a real journalist. She was there when he was boarding the “Bobble” and he thought he saw her crying, but he could have been wrong. She was standing far from where he was. But the feeling was there, always there. As he boarded, he realized immediately that he wanted to go back to her. It was a new and different feeling for him. He had “girls” as any guy would say, but this one, this one was special. He wanted her all the time, not physically per say, but just to be around her, breath her air, smell her hair and her perfume, hear her laugh, hold her hand, just spend time with her watching her work from a distance when it was crunch time and they were stuck in the office.
~ 17 ~
She came down to the living room in her negligee. He was there. He was sitting in the semi darkness. He was waiting patiently. He had moved into her duplex apartment recently and they were happy splitting the rent together. In his eyes, she was gorgeous even without a negligee, he thought as he smiled picturing her body in his head. She came down and sat down on his thighs. She took him by the neck and moved his head close to her kissing his beautiful full lips. She was in charge at this time, not him, she. She would do anything to him now and she did. Maurice was in seventh heaven and this was exactly what he wanted without even thinking about it. He thought that feelings about love, his parents had talked about, would never reach him, but they did. He felt different and new to it, but with this lady, he felt comfortable and himself. She was also drunk from their love, being with him was something unfamiliar and breathtaking. The way he understood her needs made her love him more and more every day.
“You are going away for at least three months” he heard her talking to him as they were on the floor, she on top of him looking into his partially opened eyes.
Pieces of her silk negligee brushed against his skin ever so gently. He dozed off and her voice brought him back.
“I am not going far and will be back in no time.” He whispered back and continued louder “we have to catch those poachers, you understand that, right?” She shook her head up and down a few times with a wide eyed gaze and looked at him with certainty.
“It’s possible that the information we’ve got is wrong and this vessel and the crew have nothing to do with killing whales and they are legitimate fisherman. In this case, I will have to investigate another vessel and perhaps another. Hopefully our boss will be able to get me some help in terms of giving me at least one more person to sail and investigate another ship simultaneously. After having a conversation with him, I doubt he will do that.” Maurice was fully awake now holding her hips with both hands.
“He has trust in me, maybe because of my army experience and what my position was during the war. I told you about it” not everything he thought, but close enough. She leaned down to kiss him and he took her lips in his mouth probing them with his tongue. He moved his right hand up to her neck while his left hand was still holding her hips. He gently rolled her off of him moving on top of her. As they disengaged from their kissing she asked.
“What if you will not be selected for the crew? It seems like a long shot to me and time consuming. And if you do make it, will you have to play your innocent role as a rookie all the time?” She asked brushing his hair with her right hand as her left hand was holding his buttocks.
“Not necessarily” Maurice said kissing her forehead, both eyes, both cheeks, nose, lips and finally chin in that exact order. He saw her melting under him, rolling her eyes and clenching her teeth and making him want her again and again and again.
“I don’t have to be a rookie all the time. After the first time I will have more experience and the resume will be able to back me up and will explain what I did before. Everything has to look unpretentious as I am nobody looking for a job and good buck to make. Eventually, with enough patience, I will get on one of the vessels and it doesn’t have to be the right one. Of course I will shoot for the one in question but anything could happen.” The night was passing by for them quickly and the light of sunrise grew reddening the window sills with its rise from the other side of the world. He thought the sun oversaw everyone and everything during the day and finally, at night fall, gave away the human based planet to the moon, which cooled it down and turned it white.
Maurice was finished writing in his journals and was about to go back to his cabin. Pete appeared out of nowhere and stood beside him dropping crumbs of bread into the sea.
“Are you ok?” a simple question came out to the open from Pete.
“Yes, I am ok” Maurice answered.
“You will have your tete-a-tete with the skipper soon. I am just warning you and suggesting for you to listen and process what he has to say. All right my friend?” Pete asked spitting far into the ocean and watching it fall and dissolve as Maurice was thinking the same. Maurice would listen and process.
~ 18 ~
Eventually, the big motors stopped moving and producing annoying sounds. He was able to see the bottom of a big belly on top of him. Huge, he thought and wondered what it was doing here? He had a question. His mom called him with a signal. Instead of showing their backs, like they did before, the whole pod moved down into the oblivion of the deep. They all stopped in a circle deep enough to regroup and decide on what they were going to do next. The fishing boat in the area wasn’t a problem. They would go behind it and take advantage of the leftovers. But this was different; there was no net behind the boat and no fish around. They were suspicious. The whole group went up and positioned themselves along a big chunk of ice so no one would see them from the big boat that had just come. A few adult males dove deep and surfaced close to the ship to investigate, staying below the surface not showing themselves. He pleaded to go with the adults, but she was firm and strict with him and refused to let him out of her sight even though adults didn’t mind the little one’s company. They were deep and safe enough and always watched out for each other. Three of them went around in circles watching the ship from below. After a while they saw gates in the back of the big ship open and a few smaller floating things appeared above the surface. They got confused treating these humans the same way they did others before. They passed few signals back to their pod. They thought it was safe as they started to show off and be friendly.
~ 19 ~
He knocked at almost the exact time, minutes before six. The skipper didn’t like anybody to be late and he was a minute early.
“Step in” he heard with further coughing of a smoker. He opened the door and stepped inside closing the door behind him. The skipper was smoking his cigarillo looking out the window with his back to the door when Maurice entered. For a while it was silent. The skipper just puffed smoke out of him like nobody was around. Eventually, after some time he said.
“So, what do you think about our crew?”
“I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like we are fishing” Maurice answered.
“We are not just fishing; we are doing more than that. We are making money.”
Maurice knew instantly that he was in the right place and his investigation was taking an expected turn now, even though he didn’t know what the captain would say next. Inside he was so excited to the point of disbelief. He felt swirling motions inside his stomach, a usual feeling for him. It was a feeling of strange and interesting work ahead of him. Deception could be a cowardly trade one would think, but in the way Maurice was using it, it was and would save lives of many humans and now animals. To be able to play a role using his skill was as close to being an actor, carrying tremendous weight being somebody you are not. Basically, the lies stuck to you as you played them day after day, until the project was over and your shell would finally come off. You would become yourself gradually and even that was hard, moving back into the single from a double life, sometimes triple. Movies like Treasure Island, The African Queen, Mister Roberts or The Caine Mutiny or Moby Dick were on his list of favorites among many others. Remembering expressions actors made and lines they said was something he was paying attention to.
“May I speak captain?” Maurice asked on top of his game.
“No, let me finish” the skipper replied and continued “I asked you here, right? We are moving our ammunition into position right as we speak. The money making business, that I mentioned, are the whales. We take their meat and guts and sell them. Fish?” skipper paused and retorted “is nothing. There is no real money in this business. I know it’s your first time, but I wanted to tell you that this crew makes money and a lot of it. I am a very generous man.” He stopped talking and puffed bluish-white smoke from his mouth looking at Maurice.
“So, you are telling me that we are killing whales and fishing tools are just a disguise?” Maurice was trying not to be obvious.
“Bravissimo my boy” Maurice heard back.
“We are one of the best crew in this business and the way we operate is professional. We have retailers and wholesalers line up to here” the skipper moved his hand from side to side below his chin.
“The only thing you have to do is comply with our policy on the ship and do your job, like you are doing it so far. What do you think? You think you can handle this?” The skipper turned around with his back to Maurice and exhaled another batch of smoke outside the open window, waiting for the answer. It was Maurice’s turn to talk now.
“I wasn’t ready for this, you know? I was looking to make money the right way, not like this. How were you able to convince so many people that what you are doing is right?” Maurice asked with a little surprise and irritation in his voice.
“I didn’t have to do much, money talks.” The skipper said without turning, moving his hands into his trouser pockets puffing smoke like a chimney. Maurice felt bribed as he wasn’t even thinking that the conversation would take this kind of turn.
“I will have to think about it captain” Maurice answered and continued “I will do my job as I am doing it now, but I don’t think I will be able to participate in killings.”
“How is it different from fishing?” the captain asked as he turned around and settled his big body into the chair dropping his elbows on the table in front of him. Before Maurice could answer, a big unexpected boom went through the air. Maurice saw the skipper’s smoke moving back into the room in slow motion, stopping for a split second still, like the world had stopped, and resuming its movement back into the window after a second passed.
“I think we have a starter” the skipper said excitedly “I need to go on the deck you should come too. You think about it Maurice.” The skipper crushed his cigarillo into the half full ashtray and pulled another one immediately lighting it up as he stood up and went around the table. The skipper opened the door and let Maurice out first following and closing the door behind him. Maurice was thinking about how he could get his hands on that journal, since his shift was just two days away. Another boom came from the outside and excitement among the crew got louder as Maurice and the skipper went up the stairs.
It was a disaster outside as Maurice got to the deck moments later. More booms from grenades and few harpoon lines were already out to their targets. Maurice stood and watched in disbelief as one of the harpoons penetrated one of the orca’s top fin burring itself into another smaller orca’s body. Maurice knew instantly that it was a mom protecting her child. He read on her beak as she passed the signal that she was scared and angry watching her baby die.
One of the grenades blew up so close to a ten ton orca, destroying it and tearing it apart in bits and pieces. Another whale was so damaged as it lost its whole side like it was a kind of rose flower in the bloom. The wound split its side wide open leaving it with no side fin and a bloody hole gaping and revealing its insides. They stayed around because they couldn’t leave their members to die like this. Some of the orcas in the group started to hit the boat and another turning over decoy kayaks. They were really angry and Maurice could see it on their expressions. The whales clearly had a plan and communicated it to each other. He was reading about them and knew that they were friendly, approachable and open at least to humans. Another boom, and another, and then a set of harpoons went out as some of them didn’t miss. Bodies attached to previous sets of harpoons were pulled to the ship. He saw a small baby orca still convulsing as they dropped the body on the deck of the ship. Pete pulled out his gun and shot baby orca in the head a few times making the body go still. Looking like god, Maurice thought. All the crew members were having fun now, screaming, yapping, cheering and pointing their hands at killed animals in the water. The net was out of the water and the kayaks were pulled back with ropes they were attached to. A bigger boat was dropped into the ocean and some of the crew members jumped into it and went in a wide circle around, spreading the net to catch the bodies, that weren’t attached to harpoon lines, before they would sink.
Maurice was astonished and overwhelmed to see his crew like this, happy, killing animals just like savages would do a long time ago. Pete came closer to him and put his hand on Maurice’s shoulder. Maurice shook it away with his hand and exclaimed.
“Looks like you having a lot of fun here!” Maurice continued asking Pete now looking into his eyes “do you know that the mother of this baby, you just offed, will never leave this boat alone?”
“Yes, I know” Pete replied calmly “we will have to get them all. We did that before.”
“I thought you were a legitimate fisherman? It’s not fishing?” Maurice said in disgust as Pete turned to face the ocean holding the rail in front of him with both hands. They were feeling strikes of the animals below, but it wasn’t something they had to worry about. As Maurice turned to look below into the water, somebody took him by the belt and he felt lifted unexpectedly over the rails and falling down to the angry mother below. As he went over the rails, his body flipped and the last thing he saw was Pete shooting Patrick in his head.
~ 20 ~
They were getting closer and as they glided around the floating things they realized that they were empty, there were no humans present. Now they were in a panic as one of the orca males spread his blood around the surface of the ocean losing his top fin and part of his back with it. He was dead instantly. Chaos started immediately among them and it was too much for her to handle. She put herself between the boat and her baby, even though there was still moderate distance from the main boat. She heard a swooshing sound and felt terrible pain in her fin as she saw her baby getting hit on its side. There was no blood around him as he screamed and his eyes turned glossy. Something penetrated him so hard, that it came out from the other side of him. She went around him and tried to chew on it, in order to release her baby from it, as it was pulling him closer to the main boat now. She felt something penetrated her, little pieces of something entered her body in different places simultaneously but it was nothing comparing to what her dying baby had just endured. She got close to the main ship and saw her baby pulled up and up and up, until his body disappeared from her view. She heard the sound of her baby’s body dropping on something hard as very noisy sounds followed it. All around her was a bloody mess, even she couldn’t think possible. Humans, they were always friendly, but she remembered one incident where she was hit and pinched on her beak by a little human. It had not been dangerous and life-threatening, nothing like what’s was happening now, she thought. She was crying and moaning for her baby as she hit the ship with all she had as one of the humans was basically thrown by the force down towards her.
~ 21 ~
He was very close to his mom, by her side. He didn’t understand what was going on and why it was a problem until his fellow pod members started to blow up in front of his eyes. He came close to his mom’s side, not for protection but trying to protect her, he thought. He felt the familiar taste of blood in the water and couldn’t believe his eyes that humans were capable of doing that to them. Why would they do that was his question? He felt something hard and fast penetrated his body. He moved his eyes around to inspect himself and was screaming signals as the pain was unbearable. The last thing he felt was his mom going around him and biting on the thing that went through him. He was dying, he knew that. He was pulled up and dropped on something hard. He was shaking terribly, waiting for something to come next. His mom was passing him signals to be strong and tough.
It ended fast. Something entered his head and shut his life down forever.
Maurice was looking up as he flipped and saw Patrick being shut in the head by Pete’s gun. He knew instantly that it had been a coward who had done this to him and now he knew his reason for leaving this world, he saw his destiny in work. It was scary, very scary. He mentally prepared himself as he had only about three seconds to think as he relaxed his body before hitting the ocean waters. She was there and waiting. He felt unbearable pain not because he hit the water, the drop wasn’t that high. What he felt was being dismembered by about a six ton angry orca mother. His shoulder and part of the rib cage parting away from his body was followed by his legs and then finally his head with another shoulder. That was it. He wasn’t even able to finish his prayer.
She was waiting, and as soon as the human hit the water, she ripped him apart in pieces, just like her pod members were ripped, with no mercy.
Slava P ©