Monday, March 28, 2011

Gorilla -- Part Four, The Final Installment

A gorilla on the sea is a lonely thing -- she won't eat, she just gazes out across the dark waves and not even the stars soothe her soul. She was brought there by circumstances so bizarre that her destination hardly matters and yet she strangely knows that this watery voyage might be the simplest part of her destiny. Will she be a side show in a traveling circus between the man with antlers and the woman who is half snow leopard? Or will she be stored away in a zoo where uniformed school children will jeer at her by hooting and throwing firecrackers? Worst of all, perhaps, although it's unthinkable, perhaps she will just be made into a grand fur cape only to be worn by a fat woman at the opera. These are the things that go through the gorilla's mind as she watches the lights of the city grow smaller and smaller and the sea begins to roil with an approaching storm. She bends her head to the hard squall and doesn't feel the hail and barely hears the captain calling for her to go down below.
I awoke from my desperate ape dream to find I was on a ferry caught in a gale. Darkness was all around me and I heard voices that seemed to come up from the waters -- had passengers gone overboard? There were so few who boarded an hour or so before -- had it only been an hour since I paid my fair and the ferryman smiled at me and quipped, "Hard day in the jungle?" And when I replied that it was indeed a grueling day and that if only he knew I was wearing a fear grin below my emotionless ape mask then he might not think he was so clever, he waived my fair. I gripped my handful of dollars and thought I might need them when Xavier would loose me of this horrible garment. Had a beautiful young mother sat next to me only a little while before the storm hit? Did she really scold her little boy for demanding of me, "Are you really a gorilla?" And before I could answer "of course!" she pulled him closer to her breast and apologized to me, "I'm so sorry, it's been a terribly long day, he's not accustomed to staying up so late and seeing, well, you know, the things one can see late at night on the ferry."
"It's quite alright," I answered her, disappointed that I would miss some lighthearted fun with a punchy child on the ferry, "I understand."
"Why, you're a woman!" The mother blurted out.
"Yes, I'm a gorilla and a woman."
"What a difficult way to make a living . . ." She rocked the little boy and I saw his eyes begin to close.
"Well, actually, I don't make my living as a gorilla. And at the moment I am en route to see a man about a zipper."
"A zipper?"
"Yes, a most stubborn zipper." I watched Manhattan rise and fall in the waves, as though it were a grand ship and I was stationary upon an atoll.
"You're stuck?"
"I'm afraid so"
"Why don't you just cut it open? With scissors?"
"Oh! And lose the deposit? Never!"
I wasn't sure if all of that had happened, because now I was certain of only one thing, the ferry was sinking. There was nothing gradual about it either, the bow was up, the stern submerged and then? A groaning roll leeward and that was it. I was in the night soup and funny thing, I was glad of the quiet that overtook me when I was pulled down with the ferry. No more thunder or voices calling and calling, no more metal against metal or the snapping of lines or the popping of the deck as she came apart at the seams like a witch being set ablaze.
A gorilla is more buoyant that one might think and though my gorilla and I were pulled down by various physical forces that I suppose I learned about in school, we were equally thrown back up out of the sea by another set of forces -- the sea was full, and not interested in a dessert of gorilla and we were rocketed up and the gods and the fishes must have marveled at our birth from the depths, and now that I think about it, I can only think of Godzilla you know? But I felt so tiny to be taking in such large gulps of air. I lay on my back and the currents took me quickly to nowhere but bigger waters -- the tide, something of my childhood, something that we lived with constantly; the coming in, the going out; and the occasional drowing; a clam digger caught on a sandbar and taken with a rip tide only to be found washed up, still clutching a clam basket, their neck coiled with seaweed, it was something we were all aware of, the possibility of being carried out to sea, like an astronaut cut loose in space. And I felt slightly like an astonaut in the gorilla, tumbling with the water and really not able to right myself in any sort of way, just completely played with by the waves and the water but I could breath and this alone, made me happy, I suppose.
There was no land anywhere when the sun came up. I was half way to the Canary Islands as far as I could tell. I saw bottles and a mast and sail who wanted to stop and tell me their tragic story, but the currents wouldn't allow the conversation. I saw an albatross and oh what a bird he was. He flew low and eyed me with one great albatross eye and then he banked on the wind of the Gulf Stream and the sun winked and the bird was gone like a boy's dream.
I drifted and held the smallest hope for being picked up by a ship. When one's situation is as grave as this one can still imagine the impossible happening -- afterall, if one can float out to sea in a gorilla suit, one can certainly be airlifted by the Coast Guard back to safety, complete with saltine crackers and hot cups of tea and the confused gazes of sailors, who cannot believe they pulled a woman in a gorilla suit from the pelagic.
The sharks would come before the Coast Guard though and they were a curious lot. A hammerhead circled me with one eye skyward and he bumped me continuously until a school of nurse sharks led by two or three black tips decided to make me into a game of gorilla toss. They pushed me and pulled me. I was a wet mass of llama fur that wasn't terribly appetizing to them at first and so they toyed with me. I was glad to have the company, as long as they didn't get too rough. The gorilla had served me well with the dogs on Madison Avenue, and had been my deep sea diving suit that saved me from the sinking of the ferry, why would I doubt it's ability to fend off the sharks?
But I was wrong. They grew tired of toying with the wrapping like a child on Christmas morning, and well, they tore the gorilla to shreds. Thing is, in their frenzied happiness over the acquisition of llama fur bits, they forgot to eat me.  I watched my gorilla swim away in all directions, sad to see her go, to lose her protection, but liberated from the sharks and ecstatic to be in nothing but my weary skin, treading water, waiting, and waiting for the little sailboat that came just before sunset that night. The boy in the boat scooped me out of the water; wrapped me in a blanket and gave me saltines and tea, "We should be in Hatteras by morning, does that suit you?" He had a dark shock of hair that fell over one eye and he drew it back across his brow as he asked me this. I had never seen him before, yet he seemed to be someone from the past.
"Oh yes, yes, that will be just fine."

The End . . .

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