Every Labor Day I think of the heroin story, but I've already told you that.
Instead I'll tell you this tale from the Old Place.
The Old Place was extremely hot in the summer. We lived in an old brick building next to the Petroleum and Nuclear Worker's Union Hall. On summer days the house would be cool until evening, when the bricks would expel the heat they'd been collecting all day. Some nights it would be 90 degrees at midnight, and rising. Kinda awful. However I don't think we ever paid more than $500 bucks a month for this place and I was on disability so this was the perfect spot for us during those years.
About a dozen years ago, on a hot Thursday in late August, we were watching ER. The teaser for the 11 o'clock news came on saying that a whale had washed up on the coast of our town. Our little beach was maybe 200 feet across, so we assumed that they meant the oceanside beach of the same name.
We waited for the news, and, sure enough! We recognized our little beach and the burned-out pier. Crazy! We grabbed our flashlight and walked down to the beach. There we found another couple who had obviously watched the news also. Our lights made out the shape of the whale. Not much to see, but I would come down the next day and see him in daylight.
The morning paper said that we were about to have a heat wave on the weekend. It was pretty warm by the time I left the house. I stepped out and it smelled...a little "whale-y". Poor whale. According to the Fish and Game guy I met, the whale was a juvenile female, had been deceased for quite a while and wasn't in his jurisdiction. The joy of living in an unincorporated area. "So what's going to happen with the whale?" I asked him, "I don't know," he said. Uh-oh.
I ran into a neighbor on the way back home and we talked a bit about the whale, the smell, and the upcoming heat wave.
Two days later I saw the same neighbor and commented that it was smelling a lot less whale-y. He said "You know why, right?" "Me and Bob..." (anything that started with those three words could not be good. Bob kept a pit bull chained to his porch behind our house, he didn't have a lick of sense and he owned guns) "went out in my boat, tied a rope to its tail, and towed it into the bay. Then we shot it full of holes." He seemed surprised that it didn't sink. All he knew was that he didn't want the smelly whale on our beach during a heat wave. I could tell that in some weird way he thought it was his civic responsibility to do something with the whale. He lived next door to me and also owned guns, so I wasn't going to disagree.
One week later, on Thursday, we saw the teaser for the news: "Another whale has washed up in the area." It was clearly the same whale, and I could see the bullet holes this time. It had floated into another county, on the beach fronting a fancy neighborhood, just in time for the heat wave.
I almost had an image to illustrate this post.
That first smelly day on the beach I used the last shot on my camera to take a picture of the whale. When I got my film back, the whale shot wasn't there.
So ends the story of the whale.