Sunday, June 21, 2009
Jonah and a Whale
"Like the guy who got swallowed by a whale, right?" It happens every time I introduce myself to people. Even here, with this guy holding a gun to my head, all he or I can think about is the story of some guy who got swallowed by a whale. Me, I'm looking at the whale tattooed on the arm that's pointing a gun at me. My parents tell me that they named me after a distant relative of ours who fought in the civil war. Why they named me after someone who's life never overlapped with theirs, I don't know, but it happened, and I wish it hadn't. Damn whale follows me everywhere.
I can't go anywhere without the whale. In the grocery store, "Hey Jonah, have I got a whale of deal for you!" The whale is everywhere. For christmas my perpetually dying great-aunt Esthelle, always makes me a sweater with a whale on it. Each year she makes me put it on, then we take a picture of us together. I have to wear the damn itchy sweaters all day. In our family photo albums you can see me growing up, foot by foot, with the whale right on top of me.
I used to wish it would happen though. I wished a whale from the Lord would come, come and swallow me and take me away from here. This little town, it needs to be swallowed by something, or at least something other than the decay that is swallowing it now. Although I suppose decay is a sort of whale. Yeah I used to wish something big would happen, that is before this happened.
After he asked if I'd ever been swallowed by a fish, stupid question, the man with the gun came over the counter. I had to stop him, not because he was robbing our store, and not because he had already shot someone, but because of the whale.
On his arm I could see his tattoos. There, right there, on his left arm was a big white whale grinning at me. When he pointed the gun at me, all I could do was look at that whale on his arm. I don't remember much more than him pointing the gun at me, and me looking at the whale. I've been told I screamed something and ran at him, and I still want to ask everyone who was there what I said, but I know they couldn't tell me. I know all they heard was the sound of gunfire, and then the sound of a body crumpling to the floor, my body.