The Sea Has No Hair For Us to Hold

by | December 2020 A (Day 3)

(O Mar Não Tem Cabelos Que a Gente Possa Agarrar)

Paulinho da Viola

When Lucas kite-surfed into the whale’s belly, I knew our supper plans were buggered. I got the lifeguards who got the coast guard who got the navy, who knew a whale attached to a kite was faster than a jet-ski faster a Zodiac Hurricane faster than Kongo Class Corvette. 

26.2 nautical miles past Ilha Redonda, a circular island with nothing but gull shit, the kite lines snapped and the canopy spouted into the low nimbus out of sight. The whale submerged and we circled and radioed and the admiral shrugged and the weight of loss knocked the wind out of my spasming diaphragm. Explaining accidents is no one’s forte. 

The Corvette trundled off to harass Argentinian trawlers. The Zodiac had a sunset parasail to pull, the ripped lifeguard and I jet-skied toward Ipanema. I could barely hold on to his life preserver. His zinc-cake watered my eyes. Waves rose higher than street lamps, which had turned on after the sunset applause and there. Look! There, far above the city, spotlit from Christ the Redeemer hovering arm, outstretched finger, dangled a multi-colored hanky.

It made the news so it must be true. The Evangelists claimed a feast day. Lucas got the city medal, a golden-shaped buttock that jiggled on commanded whenever a mandolin’s F chord sounded, which is more often than not in that musical city. When the Military Police rappel squad final got Lucas down from the arm of God, I took him for cod balls and his first lager and lemonade at a jazz club in Santa Teresa. I bought him a hoodie with a ♥PipSqueak™ logo and even with the swirling mist we could see the whole city all lit up and the ocean dark all the way to Portugal and Lucas told me he’d climbed out the blowhole, serrated the kite-leash with the dorsal fin and was just lucky to get wrapped around Jesus’s wrist.

9 Comments

  1. K Chiucarello

    I am just….awestruck at this? I started pulling favorite fragments and sentences and passages and then had to scrap the entire fucking thing because I truly believe this is pitch perfect and not a god damn thing should be changed. Like all of the pieces during workshop, I read this aloud and it was such ear candy. The rhythm of the words, the visuals as this tale of feat whirs past you, even the flourishes you put on the page (the TM specifically) –– it was taken in with such pleasure. This felt like a total vacation and I thank you for that. Hope you shop this around and I can read it endlessly somewhere in the abyss!

  2. Bud Smith

    You know, you write like yourself and only yourself. Not a lot of people can say that. There’s an off-kilter energy to all this that is very attractive. A forward propulsion above all else. In the middle of the story I felt a little bit lost but by the end I was in awe. “even with the swirling mist we could see the whole city all lit up and the ocean dark all the way to Portugal and Lucas told me he’d climbed out the blowhole, serrated the kite-leash with the dorsal fin and was just lucky to get wrapped around Jesus’s wrist.” When the hankie was wrapped around Christ the Redeemer’s wrist I wondered how it was related, not quite understanding but then at the end when it is all explained and the hankie is part of the kite-sail and the guy had gotten wrapped around Christ’s finger .. wow! That was cool as hell. Everybody knows the story of Jonah and you have done something interesting here with it that I think could be complicated and subverted a bit more in a further draft:

    Jonah or Jonas[a] is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BCE. He is the central figure of the Book of Jonah, in which he is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents of impending divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish. Caught in a storm, he orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard, whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction.

    So my question with any story with a man who is eaten by a whale but then escapes from the whale (Pinocchio does it by lighting a fire in the belly and making the whale sneeze but Pinocchio is not a real boy) is to what end was the quest of the kite-sailing happening. Was Lucas just out there having a good time or was he on some kind of mission? Jonah is sent to warn of apocalypse to a citizenry and Pinocchio purposely lets himself be swallowed by Monstro because he wants to save his master (his God, so to speak). anyway, all this is to say it could add a lot to this story if it wasn’t just a random event in the universe that Lucas is swallowed by this whale, he would be on some quest or sought out for some specific reason by the divine, otherwise I would wonder why Christ is in the story too. Perhaps Lucas is being swallowed for his sins and the whale is wrathful and when he escapes and his sent to Christ, this is a washing away of his ‘evil’

    Lots to work with here. Lots of directions to go. Deep stuff. <3

    • Bud Smith

      I think you could retitle this something else though. I like “♥PipSqueak Lucas”
      or, “Monstro Jr.”

  3. Cheryl Pappas

    David, this is so lyrical I want to read it aloud again and again. I loved the wildness matched with the old story; it crackles like fire. Joyous to read!

  4. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    David, I’m gut-stung by the beauty of it. It’s a tale to be told by fire-light some night in the desert, some place on a mountain near Santa Fe. Just one tiny suggestion— I would take out the last line of the second paragraph. Whole professions are dedicated to explaining accidents– think law, think cops, think scams. This is too great to f around with truth, oh reliable narrator. It’s truth, right? You said so. God, I love this.

  5. Janelle Greco

    David, I really love this journey you’ve taken us on. I’m kind of awestruck by it and therefore don’t have much of a critique. I just really really enjoyed this one. Thank you!

  6. Amy Barnes

    Dang. I’m just mad I didn’t write that opening line. So vivid.

    “When Lucas kite-surfed into the whale’s belly, I knew our supper plans were buggered. I got the lifeguards who got the coast guard who got the navy, who knew a whale attached to a kite was faster than a jet-ski faster a Zodiac Hurricane faster than Kongo Class Corvette.”

    Love the continued quirkiness and use of language throughout that give us a strong visual of things we don’t probably haven’t visualized. Combined with the religious aspects of the statue (dangling a hanky!), the Evangelists and their newly-claimed feast day, and getting wrapped around Jesus’ wrist — feels very Hemingway-ish in tone but with your own twist to the storytelling. I’m guessing there’s more of these characters and story somewhere? Looking forward to reading more of this some day — great weekend of posts! Seeing these flashes helps make me see your micro series more clearly too.

  7. Lisa Moore

    Hi David,

    Wow, this is rad. It’s full of memorable lines and vivid-as-hell images, but I like one of the less fantastical lines: “it made the news so it must be true”. I love how this line breaks up the rhythm and sets up your finale. The final image of Jesus’s wrist was perfect and draws you back to the amazing Jesus/hanky line in the previous paragraph.

    It’s been great to read your stuff this weekend!

  8. Neil Clark

    Probably my favourite title of the course, and the piece that follows doesn’t disappoint! Such a cool and fresh take on a classic story.

    Really enjoyed reading your stuff this weekend, David. How you approach this from is just so unique.

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