Captain Don looked out over the sea. It was different every day, and he knew that, because every day he sailed out of Honoko Harbor to see it. He preferred the open water to the endless chit-chat of the cultural consciousness. He wanted nothing to do with The Feed. The only tweets he cared about were the ones from the gulls near the docks. The pictures he took were ones that didn’t require a camera, and didn’t need to be shown anywhere outside his own soul. He’d taken his boat out with droves that kept him afloat and watched every last one of them bury their faces in phones or watch the sea from behind a lens. For him, this wasn’t living at all.
He wanted to feel the connection with the sea. The salty spray on his face. The whish of the air past his ears as he charged into the open meld of sea and sky. He called them The Blues. Shades of the moment. The Now, the motivators spoke of, as they sold zillions of dollars showing masses how to breathe and pay attention to what is.
He didn’t have to be told. He felt it. Every day held adventure just for him, and he welcomed it. He wondered who he’d hang out with today. The Humpbacks had moved off the Kona Coast and were holding court at the shelf. Moms, calves and their escorts just hanging around circling the center of The Blues. He could watch them for days. The escorts breeching when confronted by a competitor. The mom and her calf spouting off then showing their bus-sized bodies in what seemed like slow motion. Raw perfection.
Today, Don anchored the boat south of the shelf. He twisted the top off his Kona Longboarder and kicked back on his captain’s chair to watch. He wondered what the whales thought about as they circled the shelf all day. He knew from biologists they didn’t eat during this time of migration. He knew other escorts were trying to work their way into fathering the next calf. He knew the mother, having carried the dam calf for 12 months, then shooting milk out of her being for the next twelve, wanted a rest. But what the hell did they think about?
Don heard a splash. He moved to the bow and saw something unusual. Two false Killer whales breeched high into the air, plunging into the almost-violet water and spraying white droplets high into the sky. Don stared. He couldn’t remember his last encounter with the Killers. He needed a closer look.
All he’d need was 20 minutes. He strapped on a small tank he kept ready for just these occasions and stepped stealthily into the water. Whales were shy, and he knew if he hit too hard, they’d speed away at 50 mph. He dropped down into the crystal clear Hawaiian waters and swam. He glided through the great Pacific. The water felt silky against his skin. He could hear the humming of sea creatures in the blue silence. Perfection, he thought.
Before his next flipper finished a complete stroke, he noticed two gigantic Killers rushing towards him from the left. He stopped. One rushed over the top of him so close it turned him over. The second came a few seconds later and though he was upside down, he knew it was close. The tail had hit his leg. He could die here.
He flipped over and turned his head towards the Killers. Where were they headed in such a hurry? He turned to follow them. He didn’t need to go far. A third Killer was about 50 yards to his right. The waters here were so transparent there was no mistaking it. He soon understood why the two had been in such pursuit. The third Killer held half a tuna carcass in his mouth.
Captain Don stopped. He wondered if there’d be a showdown with him as the loser’s trophy. The third Killer tossed the carcass to another. The second tossed it to the first. And back and forth it went between the three. The captain smiled. After about five minutes of the Tuna Game, the two Killers zoomed off into The Blues, returning the carcass to its rightful owner.
Captain Don watched, mesmerized. The Killer that was left behind turned and plunged directly towards him at such a speed he was certain he was a goner. He locked eyes with the two ton animal and thought, Well, this is a perfect way to die.
But the whale stopped five feet from his face, tuna carcass dangling. Don could barely breathe. The majesty of this creature was more than he’d ever imagined. What seemed like an hour went by, but in actuality, probably only minutes. A standoff. Man against nature. Don could see the hairs on the great being’s face. He had read that scientists theorized those hairs remained from days when whales roamed the earth as land animals. That would have been something.
Don’s air was running low. He’d have to head back to the boat. He knew not to swim away. While he tossed around his next thought, the Killer did something unexpected. He tossed the carcass to Don. Shocked, Don caught it. The whale stared at him. Don threw it back. And back and forth it went until Don was nearly out of air. The whale grabbed the carcass, turned and sped off as fast as he’d come.
What had just happened? Don had wondered for years about the ways of the whales. Here they were, just wanting to play. Could that be all there was? Don swam back to the boat thinking if he died in this very moment, his life would be complete. The rest was just frosting.