Bleached Wail

Barns, big barns with nothing in them except hay, and hay’s for horses. A jackass will eat a duck if it has the chance, and His Holiness Pope Mastodon the Third pissed on my head while I was kneeling down behind a tree to see if he really did shit in the woods. Oh heavenly father, dad-dad-daddio.

The river that ran behind my house was a river of fire, laden with silken-sailed schooners, carrying captains who lashed their cargo with straps made of dreams and hellfire. My cat would drink from the river and become a lioness, prowling the savanna, savage dusk drawing a sheet over the face of the day in its waning prize-gloom. Ensuing darkness must be relived through this river. It was for this reason I would not let my dog near the damn thing. I mean, you know, once a cur tastes blood you gotta chain him, ‘else he’ll kill again, and we can’t ‘ford no killin’s roun’ hee-ya, you dig, man?

I told him ‘yes’, but the fact that all of this had happened as quickly as it did was supportive of my weak knowledge, or more truly, paranoia, which had overcome my ability to function and to relate to…zero.

A man must be sick in the head to ever want to write anything about fishing. What would Jesus do if he were a fisherman and suddenly found his hands smelling something like the back of a shithouse door on a tuna boat? Then a storm approaches, and he drops his Bible overboard and dives in after it.

“There’s no need for such foul language,” Jesus preaches. “Let us bow our heads and pray for salvation.”

Immediately he is swallowed by a whale, exactly like Jonah, only in the belly of this beast he meets Kurt Cobain, who is smoking a cigarette and playing guitar. What does he say to Kurt, and how does Kurt react to Jesus apologizing to him all the goddamn time? What would Kurt do? Besides giving Le Hippie Original a quick fix, if you know what I mean, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Aw, man, I’m just needlin’ ya.

“Yea, man, that feels good,” Jesus says as he sits back, drifting away with eyeballs clouding up, shrouding up, elevating the mysterious fog that has overcome his brain. He smells his hands and pukes all over Kurt, but Kurt doesn’t care. He paints large black circles around Jesus’ eyes with Courtney’s mascara that he stole from her purse.

“Two whacks with an ugly stick for Ms. Love, please, pronto, and don’t forget the champagne cocktails and a bowl of turtle soup!”

Every time Kurt says: “Aw, Jesus fucking Christ!” Jesus says: “No, just Jesus,” which makes Kurt say it again. It’s a tuff life livin’ in the belly of a whale, a monster that can digest you at any time.

“We’re gonna be whale shit! Aw, fuck,” says Kurt.

“There’s no need for such foul language,” Jesus preaches. “Let us bow our heads and pray for salvation.”

Kurt looks up at him, then picks up his guitar and hands it to Jesus, a commandment for a commandment. Jesus starts to jam on Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way.” Kurt joins in on vocals.

Soon, angels appeared and the whale opened his mighty jaws awide. Kurt could see the beach from where he was. Courtney was there, with Frances Bean; they were waiting for him and waving. He got up to go. Jesus was taking out his wallet and fanning a stack of freshly clipped and pressed bills out to count, sniffing them and saying: “Man, I just love the smell of fresh ink,” then passing the wad on to the usher. Kurt reached into his pocket. His wallet was missing.

“Hey,” Kurt pleads, “I lost my wallet, but she can tell you who I am,” pointing to Courtney. “She’s got money, too. She can pay for my ride.”

The usher held up a silent hand and stood in front of the passageway.

“But I must,” Kurt insists, growing irate. “That’s my daughter out there!” He loses control and begins shoving the usher, but the usher remains firm, and the whale’s mouth begins to close.

Kurt can see Jesus on the beach. Courtney pinches his ass. Jesus jumps and blushes, then Courtney flips Kurt off. Jesus leans over and kisses Frances Bean on her terribly precious forehead.

The last time she would hear her father’s voice was that day on the beach, when she heard him scream “Fuck you!” as the beast slipped back into the murky fathoms, having temporarily satisfied its peculiar appetites.


This story first appeared in Happy #14, in the year 2000, published by The HAPPY Organization, New York, New York. It was reprinted in Life Between Cigarettes in 2001, by R.L. Buss, with original illustrations by Erik Groff, which was reissued in 2001 by Sun Wolf Press, and is currently out of print. There may be one copy left on the consignment shelf at City Lights in San Francisco. If you contact them I’m sure they’d sell and ship it to you:

City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone: (415) 362-8193
Fax: (415) 362-4921

For general information, email them at or call (415) 362-8193

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