BlowJoe the Whale surfaced like a rocket and splashed down hard enough to make a barracuda twenty feet below say, “Damn!” He hooked up with his familiars and swam alongside his pal, Freak Willie.
Freak Willie was a free thinker. He liked to eat that seaweed that glows in the dark and he encouraged BlowJoe to try it. “This stuff will let you know, pardner.”
But BlowJoe had other things on his mind. He asked Freak Willie, “Have you ever heard of the Ocean?”
“No,” Willie said, “but I like the sound of it. What is it?”
“Ah,” BlowJoe said, scowling and flapping his starboard flipper “those airy-fairy dolphins told me about it. Bunch of reef huggers if you ask me. They said we’re all one, in the loving care of the endless Ocean. Or some such crap. The Ocean is supposed to be the giver of life. It feeds us and protects us.”
Willie winked. “Don’t sound half bad.”
“Yeah,” BlowJoe said, “but I just don’t buy it.”
“If this Ocean is all it’s cracked up to be, it wouldn’t matter if you believed it or not, right?”
“True,” BlowJoe admitted, “but those dolphins give me the creeps.”
Willie said, “At least that’s better than what this Tuna told me. The Tuna belongs to some outfit called
Neptune’s Naysayers. She said that a creature must shun all fun and be afraid, guilt-ridden, and paranoid, praying constantly to be one of the select few that the Ocean will smile upon and protect.”
BlowJoe looked disgusted. “There’s that Ocean again. Man, I need this theology nonsense like I need another hole in my head. But I gotta know and I gotta experience it my own self; I can’t just believe a bunch of stories.”
Freak Willie smiled. “You’re starting to sound like the Doubting Tortoise.”
“No,” BlowJoe said, “I’m keeping an open mind. I’m just not going to believe anything until I see it.”
Freak Willie said, “Maybe you could ask the Orca of
BlowJoe shook his head. “Nope. That, too, would just be someone else’s opinion. I gotta see this varmint up close and personal.”
BlowJoe swam away.
BlowJoe asked a Shark, “Have you ever seen the Ocean?”
“I’ve experienced it,” said the shark. “It’s a dangerous place. Besides that, there is only one
. It’s called the True Ocean Atlantic. There are a pack of nasty liars who say that the Pacific is the real Ocean and that one must live in the Pacific or suffer the fate of an infidel. We’ve been at war with them for centuries, killing millions of them in an effort to save them from their ignorance.”
“Yeah, well, good luck,” BlowJoe said as he waved good-bye and swam quickly away.
BlowJoe swam all over the world.
He encountered Urchins who told him, “You must follow the Starfish. Only they can lead you to the Ocean.” He met Sponges who offered to show him the Ocean, but he would have to pay a steep price. There were Shrimp who assured him that only 144,000 would be allowed to go to the Ocean and only after they died. He talked with Penguins who could take the Ocean or leave it. They didn’t seem to care one way or the other. Polar Bears gave him a stern warning to stay away from the warmer parts of the Ocean; that could only lead to no good. Saltwater Crocodiles swore that the polar portions of the Ocean were evil and would kill him just for the fun of it. The Clams volunteered no information at all. The Jellyfish couldn’t make up their minds, but they were sure they didn’t want to talk about it—they could talk all day, explaining why they didn’t want to talk about it.
Freak Willie was happy to see BlowJoe back home. He hummed a few bars of “That Old Gam of Mine.”
BlowJoe swam along in silence.
When Freak Willie could stand it no longer, he asked, “So what’d you find out?”
BlowJoe smiled and said, “There are too many conflicting stories about the Ocean. Therefore I have empirically concluded that it does not exist.”
Freak Willie floated on his back, trying hard not to burst out laughing. After a few miles, he asked BlowJoe, “Know what you call fish with no eyes?”
“That’s an old joke.”
“To paraphrase Voltaire: The Ocean is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”
“You sure there aren’t any dolphins in your lineage?”