My own darling boy,
Two years passed since last I saw you, and yes, I freely admit: it was my fault we parted on less than friendly terms. I paid the price, I learned my lesson. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for leaving you that way – clinging to a coffin in the middle of the storm-tossed sea.
I had my reasons. I was confused, hurt, angry, bewildered, bothered. I hope you understand. I’m different now. I thought things over, I decided what I needed to do. Being a whale of action, I wasted no time dithering. I dove right in, or rather, out.
You’ve no idea how traumatic it was to come out to my family.
“And what, exactly, is a, how do you say it?” Aunt Dora asked.
“Homosexual,” I clicked crisply. “It means I like men.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Aunt Dora. “I like men, too. They are crunchy, and good with seaweed.”
“Not that way,” I said. “I like men, you know — carnally.”
“That’s even better,” said Grandpa Tom. “I remember, one time I rammed the Santa Imelda, she caught fire. Carne asada is a delicacy, too bad we hardly ever see it nowadays. Now, back in the day –”
“I’m in love with a man,” I shouted and found myself surrounded by silence. All eyes were on me, but not for long.
“You call yourself a sperm whale,” my father bit off, his clicks fairly dripping with contempt. With a dismissive, callous flick of a fluke, he turned and swam away, and after him, one by one, all of my kin. My mother departed last, a doleful sigh escaping her blowhole. Her last words to me, rattled off in a querulous whisper: “I always said no good can come of playing with your food.”
I knew just what she meant. My first man, many years ago. I do so rue the day I bit off two of his three lower limbs, one of which he after a fashion replaced with a prosthesis made of Cousin Morty’s mandible, and the other with a harpoon. Stereotypic, perhaps, but sharp, nevertheless.
I have no family now.
Since then, for seven hundred, threescore and thirteen days I plowed the thunderous solitude of the sea, each day a miserable gray like any other, none but the spineless squid for food, none but the mindless fish for company. I met no other whale of my color, and none that would admit to share my inclinations. Au contraire.Many are quite put out by my inquiries. My strength protects me from their teeth, but their sidelong glances, their turning away with a stroke of a tail, most of all their silences wound me deeper than any harpoon could, in the strongest of human hands.
In my loneliness I have come to miss the men who hunted me. I miss their hunger, their hatred. Whatever feelings they harbored toward me were never akin to icy disdain. It is far better to be the object of bloodlust than no lust at all.
I miss the thin old man I crippled, he looked so adorable prancing on the bridge brandishing that phallic object. His harsh words, punctuated by punctures of his weapon, stung me badly. So sorry I let it goad me into that little fit of pique in which I sank the Pequod. I swear I’ll never do so gauche a thing again.
I miss your little tattooed friend. I know you two were close. It gave me a small measure of comfort to see him save your life, though in a fashion none of us could have predicted. You do not know this, but had that ship not hurried to your rescue I would have lent a fin. For, unlikely though it is that I shall ever see you again, your death would have removed even that infinitesimal hope. I doubt I could have lived with that.
I hardly knew the mates, Starbuck and the others, so I cannot say I miss them, but for certain I miss the concept, the Platonic ideal of matehood which they embodied. The luxury of having more than one — of counting them, first mate, second mate, third — it speaks of riches far beyond all pearls and chests of gold I’ve glimpsed scattered on the ocean’s bottom.
So once again I cruise the seven seas, bellowing my call near all shores on which you are likely to stand. Fire Island. Provincetown. Key West. San Francisco Bay. I even swam up the Hudson river to the piers at Greenwich. Many an attractive man had given me the eye, but it is you I miss the most. I hope you hear my cry. I hope you answer.
Call me, Ishmael!
This story originally appeared in 10Flash.