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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

A-Vhaling Ve Vill Go

I mentioned recently that I’m taking a writing class my friend Jenn is teaching at RISD. The nice thing about a writing class is that it keeps me writing. And the nice thing about writing is that whatever I manage to scrabble together for the class, I can double-duty here.

That’s a good thing. Some days, I barely manage half-ass-duty. Double-duty is, like, a dozen times better. Approximately. I sort of quarter-ass-dutied my way through math in school.

Anyway, this week’s assignment was as straightforward as they come. Write a story involving two people. Oh, and make them opposites of each other somehow. Also? They should be historical figures. Aaaaand they’re on a whale watch. And something goes terribly wrong. Go!

Right? Straightforward like a pretzel.

Still, class is class. And since this one has nothing to do with trig or algebra or when two trains leaving Omaha will meet in St. Louis if one is traveling at five-ninths the square root of the other’s velocity multiplied by the number of tons of coal it would take to heat fourteen packs of hot dog wieners in the dining car by thirty-six degrees centigrade, I’m obligated to not sleep through it. Much.

So I wrote a whale watch piece. It’s completely devoid of whalers — and nearly of whales, for that matter — and my ‘opposite’ characters turn out to both be health care professionals from the early part of the 20th century. Which is obviously what you’d expect, given the prompts. I just hope it’s not too cliche. That wouldn’t be fair to the whales.

The mostly completely absent whales. In the story about whale watching.

Damn. Maybe I should sleep through this class. Meh.

Sigmund at Sea

The ominous skies drove most of the tourists into the ship’s cabin. Sigmund alone remained near the bow, staring over the choppy surf. He was soon joined by a curious fellow with a gray parrot perched on his shoulder, sleeping.

“Spotted any?” asked the curious gent softly.

Sigmund startled. “Wha? Oh, nein. I vas merely musing.”

“Your mother vore an eyepatch, perhaps? Or had hooks for hands?”

“Remarkable creatures, the whales. Simply magnificent.”

“Quite. Say, vat’s with zat bird on your shoulder? You fancy yourself a pirate, ya?”

“Oh, Polly? No-”

“Your mother vore an eyepatch, perhaps? Or had hooks for hands?”

The curious man laughed. “How fanciful, sir! Nothing of the kind, I assure you. Polynesia here is my faithful companion and advisor.

“Advisor? You are saying you converse with zis bird, Herr…?”

“Doolittle. John Doolittle. And yes — it’s widely known that parrots can speak.”

“I am vell avare,” came the chilly reply, “of ze vocalization capabilities of ze African gray. My question is whezher you yourself answer in kind.”

“Naturally,” Doolittle shrugged. “To do otherwise would be rude.”

“Fascinating. A completely externalized superego, vith transference to a household pet.”

Doolittle chuckled. “Oh, Polly’s no pet. In fact, she’s the whole reason I’m here.”

“You identify zee bird as your very purpose in life? Ach!” Sigmund retrieved a notebook from his breast pocket and jotted a few lines.

“No, no — Polly’s the reason I’m on this ship. One of the whales is sick and needs my help.”

“Und how do you know zee whale needs help?” asked Sigmund carefully, taking notes.

“Dab-Dab told me.”

“And zis Dab-Dab — your manzervant, ya?”

“Don’t be absurd. Dab-dab is a duck. Polly talked to the whale and told Jip the dog, who told Gub-Gub the pig, who told Dab-Dab, who told me. Simple, really.”

Sigmund’s pencil snapped from the force of his furious scribbling. “I zay, Mister Doolittle-”

“It’s Doctor, actually.”

“My apologies, Doctor. Of… medicine?”

“Indeed. For animals, mostly.”

“Zank goodness for zat. Doctor, I should like to speak vis you further — much, much further — about zis veritable menagerie of delusions you harbor. If you would visit my clinic in Vienna, I believe zat just a few years’ of intensive psychotherapy would cure you of many of zese afflictions. Perhaps even most.”

Doolittle gaped. “Sir,” he managed, “you misjudge me. I’m but a simple Puddleby doctor who assists God’s creatures wherever I can.”

Sigmund scoffed. “God. Now I begin to underztand zese neuroses. Sir, please – accept my help.”

As Doolittle boggled, a rusty speaker overhead squawked to life:

“Attention, passengers. Due to inclement weather, we regret we shall have to abort today’s whale watch. We thank you for your patronage.”

Doolittle leapt into action, sprinting for the starboard lifeboat. Before Sigmund could stop him, Doolittle climbed aboard and hoisted the skiff down, paddling vigorously toward a distant pod of tail-slapping whales.

“Why always ze crazy ones come talking to me?” Sigmund sighed, as he ran to alert the captain of a deluded man overboard.

In the rowboat, atop Doolittle’s shoulder, Polly finally stirred. “You hear any of that wacko’s nonsense?” Doolittle asked as he rowed.

“Beardy?” replied Polly. “Yeah. Now there’s a guy who really needs to get laid. *squawk*!”

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