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Chapter 5

At that time in my life, I didn’t know what a “Jonah” was, or an “albatross”. I had not yet, and would not for a number of years, read Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER; wherein a sailor kills an unoffending albatross whose carcass is forcibly hung around his neck by the rest of the ship’s crew after the misdeed brings a lethal curse down on them and their vessel. But I had certainly heard the story, in church, about the prophet Jonah, in the Old Testament, being commanded by God to go and preach to the people in the city of Ninevah that they repent before He destroyed them all, as well as their town, because their wicked ways were offensive in His sight. My maternal grandfather was a small town preacher.

It seems that Jehovah was certainly tough on sin and wickedness and all that stuff back in the day. And so He; Yahweh, Elohim, El Shaddai, was doubly displeased when His chosen prophet, Jonah, refused to obey and instead took the first ship to Tarshish to escape the sacred mission he’d been assigned. Ergo, He whipped up a massive storm to terrorize all the sailors to the cockles of their souls until they figured out it was Jonah provoking His divine wrath and tossed him overboard to save themselves. Immediately, a big fish, or whale as some accounts have it, gulped Jonah down and the turbulent, briny, foaming sea was quiet.

For three days and three nights Jonah hung around inside the whale’s belly, in total darkness, conversating with God, as his clothing was disintegrating and his skin was being turned green in the digestive juices, until finally he convinced the Almighty that he’d get with the program- not after the Lord, of course, had given him a really good talking too- and then Jonah was barfed up by the giant fish, naked and afraid and slimy on the shore, with a new found respect for Adonai.

My whale- the one in my nightmare that swallowed my father as me and my mother stood helplessly by in the buff on a shoreline of infinite water and watched- as already described was after a fact more surrealistic than the generally perceived leviathan: kind of like this one creature in that Hieronymus Bosch tryptic that is bizarrely birdlike and sits in a chair and swallows naked people and dispels them then in bluish egg-like spheres out the bottom of the chair into a sewer hole. It stood upright in my nightmare on its tail fin... as if it were legs although it was not... and bent over my father, to swallow him... from the head.

That is when I woke.

She was standing over me... looking down.

Practically transparent, she was sort of like seeing through gauze woven from spider web. Her orbits were dark hollows where eyes should’ve been. Her mouth was agape and not defined but an irregular shape and she was young, approximately my age, and naked except for panties, or so it seemed to me. I had seen naked girls before, one of my cousins, when we were even younger. There was no detail to her breast or her stomach- neither her nipples nor naval were delineated and she seemed to want to speak to me out her vaguery of a mouth but turned instead and vanished... sort of like... when you blow the downy seeds off a dandelion.

I heard somewhere, since then, and even read that if you can blow all the seeds off a dandelion in a single breath then the one you love will love you back; but if any of the seeds cling to the seed-head then the one you love will not be true in return. There were a lot of dandelions in the yard of that house... in the few places in that scabby yard where there was vegetation... if I recall it well at all.

My pajamas had been rearranged again that night. I became aware that the left leg had been pulled up from the ankle up to my knee. I thought it was just maybe the way I had rolled around beneath the bedcovers that had caused it. My underwear was skootched down uncomfortably in the back but not the front.

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