11 Jan

For the Friday Fictioneers RV which is currently on cinder blocks in Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ front yard. Other stories are here. Please check them out. Many are very good. All are inspired by the double Double Bass photo below. (Prompt provided by Roger Cohen.)

My genre is Contemporary Fiction. Thank you for your patience.

One moment. Two perspectives.


My children once frolicked in radiance and fed on warm milk as we sheltered in the shallows. Daughters have not found mates and all our sons left years ago to search for theirs. No children grace the water.

Today from the botherers come strange sounds. Each year the Sea echoes with more discordance and the voices of the far ranging families are fading. These creatures are the reason we are diminished.

I rise and see one pale noisemaker rub another’s red belly from which music issues.

I listen, but discern no message in the song, and return to the deep.

Double Basses

Major in Marine Biology? Minor in Music? Guaranteed unemployable. Finally landed a deckhand position aboard a whale watch vessel out of Lahaina.

After weeks without seeing a pod I decided to bring my double bass offshore and play to try and change our luck.

I’d been sawing away all morning when a splash and a rush of air sounded above my music. A female Humpback had spy-hopped and was eyeing me intently from a hundred feet away.

“So beautiful. So few this year. What was happening?”

Glistening back arched, flukes following, she slid in silent majesty beneath the waves.


Double bass in a boat

You made it this far. Thanks.

Think on this.

76 Responses to “Gulf”

  1. Charles Oyeleke Williams January 11, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Perhaps, we should find our ways back to the deep often enough…i love the poetic rendition of the first narration and the powerful imagery am left with at the end of the line…

    The sea -faring angle, of the second take, somehow intermixes with mine this week and it’s equally as good as any offering from you….

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      Dear Charles,

      Thank you for your kind comments on Gulf. I appreciate them more than you know. I am looking forward to reading yours.



  2. Joanna (Lazuli Portals Trilogy) January 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Ah, Doug. Every week I come here and find something I wish I’d written. I love the two contrasting viewpoints (they’re fun to write, aren’t they!)

    Part one is haunting. “Frolicked in radiance” – what an image!

    I also love the flukes of these wonderful beings (as does Ron) so thank you for your beautiful final paragraph in part two.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Dear Joanna,

      That’s one of the highest compliments a writer can receive. (The, ‘wish I’d written that’ one.) Thank you very much for sharing that.

      I’m looking forward to reading yours tonight.



  3. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) January 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Doug, I like the second especially. To what degree was the modest narrator’s “sawing away” much more in sync with the beauty and the silent majesty of the deep that he could ever dream? Very nice piece …

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      A great musician might get through to the whales, but the average double bass player on the stern of a boat, straw hat and sunscreen? I don’t think so.

      But you’re right about him being more in sync than most. Perhaps I should learn to play….

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  4. elappleby January 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    My favourite was the first with the botherers and the noisemakers. I really enjoyed seeing the same story from two perspectives too. Inspired!

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

      Dear El,

      Thank you for saying so. I tried to imagine how the whales might view humans. Probably as misguided children. Maybe that’s why they’re so patient with us.



  5. rgayer55 January 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Remember that old commercial where the American Indian is looking at a mountain stream full of trash & litter and has a tear running down his cheek? We destroy our planet and many species every day in the name of progress and for a few bucks. The fraking they are doing now (quite a bit in Arkansas past two years) is horrible and led to several earthquakes last spring. Meanwhile, those companies run ads on TV telling us how wonderful and inexpensive natural gas is. It’s like a rapist telling the victim’s family that he did them a favor. God created a beautiful place for us to live, but we seem intent on destroying it. Great stories, Doug. You have a wonderful way of making people think and driving home your point.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      The Eagles put it well in their song, The Last Resort. i agree with you about fracking. We’re going to realize too little and too late that the cure is worse than the disease. You sound as though you’re doing your part to stem the tide. keep spreading the word and hope.

      Thank you for such a detailed and cogent response.



  6. N Filbert January 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    intriguing writing this week Doug – thanks! And very interesting article…thanks for that too, great to kick off the day learning

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      Dear Sir,

      Happy to oblige. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  7. claireful January 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Really interesting points of view – one desperate to get away, and the other desperate to find and follow (presumably with the whales’ interests in mind). Very nice writing.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Dear Claire,

      Thank you for your kind comments. Bookends on the planet, separated by perspective and evolution, both mammals, both intelligent…well, the whales at least.

      I appreciate you stopping in to read.



  8. waitingforaname January 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    This was a very pretty, almost haunting duo of stories. Well done.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Thank you, my dear. Haunting is a delightful description and just what I was trying for.



  9. Sandra January 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    I love the way we’re classed as ‘botherers’ and ‘noise makers’. I’ve always felt they think of us this way. Beautiful Doug, as always.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      It is as though they are gifted with a much longer view of things, a patience we humans have yet to learn. Thanks for reading this botherer’s noise. I appreciate it.



  10. elmowrites January 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Like Sandra, I love the choice of words to describe humans. The first story was elegant and beautiful. I thought the second lacked a bit of conviction – it’s clear where your heart lies!

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      Was it that easy to see? We don’t deserve the beauty that is everywhere around us. Humans. (Google ‘For a Coming Extinction by W.S. Merwin.) “It is we who are important.”

      Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.



      P.S. Love to Sebastian.

  11. writelindy January 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Some lovely writing here Doug. I particularly liked the first story with its poetic language and theme.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

      Dear Lindy,

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I appreciate it very much.



  12. tedstrutz January 11, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Doug… I think this is some of your best. In your first story, I heard one of my Orca whales speaking of the whale watch boats here in the San Juan Islands. They head out of my harbor, and from Victoria, 25 miles away. Nice stuff.

    • tedstrutz January 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      P.s. on cinder blocks in Rochelle’s front yard, indeed!

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      Dear Ted,

      I thank you for your compliment and am glad you have the Orcas to watch. They add so much to the days, don’t they?



  13. Tom Poet January 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    The curiosity of both the human and the whales brings them within ear shot of each other but neither can understand the others music. The span between them is great but yet obtainable if only for a fleeting moment. The gulf between them more than water. Poetic, and meaningful your love of the sea comes through in these two stories. Let’s hope curiosity and appreciate for each species is ultimately what saves them both.

  14. sustainabilitea January 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Seriously? Did you pay for this picture to be the prompt so you could wow and touch us twice? I cry foul, but your stories are so fair that I forgive you (even if you’d really done so.) 🙂 What an interesting life you’ve had! I feel privileged to be able to share bits of it.


    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right about me cheating. I did it because I knew the first story needed the counterpoint. At least I think it did. As for paying for the photo prompt, well, I’ll never tell.



      • sustainabilitea January 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

        Doug, I’ll get it out of Rochelle!! So beware. 🙂


      • rochellewisoff January 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

        Whale sea about that. My lips are sealed. 😉

    • tedstrutz January 12, 2013 at 12:43 am #

      He’s such a word hog… And Rochelle just lets him get away with it!

      • sustainabilitea January 12, 2013 at 12:56 am #

        He’s probably paying her off to–a trip to Hawaii or some such thing. Gosh! It’s so unfair.

  15. JackieP January 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Hello Doug. I really enjoyed both stories. They both tell a story well worth reading. I do hope we as humans can find the appreciation of things that are different than us. We need to smarten up and preserve other life, or we all lose in the end.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

      Dear Jackie,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting. Yes, we humans have challenges and no strong record of meeting them in a timely fashion. Joni Mitchell sang, “We take all the trees, put’em in a tree museum…” Not real sure we’re not going to end up in one ourselves the way things are going.



  16. Anne Orchard January 11, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Doug, your first story was so lyrical and then you gave us the counterpoint of the ignorant human insisting on following, never suspecting that his noisemaking was making things worse for the creatures he wanted to help. Story of our species, maybe? What a lot to think about.

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Dear Anne,

      Every villain is a hero in his own mind. We humans are like that. I hope the whales survive us.

      Thanks for reading and commenting so kindly.



  17. Ken Arnopole January 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Aloha, Doug
    this is a great story it comes from your heart and your viewpoint of being in beautiful Kona.
    The question I have had for many years, is what human is going to put the last drop of acid in the ocean to make it turn. Your story brings up many contrasting interests about human beings, our love for music is no different than a Wales love to sing. We should all be as blessed as you are Doug to have the intelligence to watch life and reflect on the burdens that humans have placed on the Earth’s resources.
    On a lighter note Doug thanks for the pool lessons. My wife bought me a pool cue for our anniversary.
    Aloha, and I can’t wait to take out my boat and watch the whales, you want to go?
    Thanks again for the great story and the pictures are marvelous. Ken

    • dmmacilroy January 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      Dear Ken,

      Going to practice your orbital mechanics? How nice to have a wife sensitive to your needs and aware of the finer things in life.

      Thanks for your kind e-mail of a few weeks ago. The candy on the summit was much appreciated. I believe Stick went and purchased some more for Christmas. He says hello.

      I’m going to refrain from whale watching, other than from a long remove, perhaps from a high bluff overlooking the Hamakua coast.

      I appreciate you comments on Gulf. Thank you for reading.



      • Ken Arnopole January 12, 2013 at 2:59 am #

        Aloha, Doug
        thank you for your reply. I am learning to blog. I have set up Gravatar finally. Need coaching to set up blog. Look forward to using the new Q stick let me know, and I’ll come up for a game. You can contact me through Just call the phone number there. I’ll bring the cookies.
        Aloha and thanks again

      • Ken Arnopole January 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm #


  18. Jan Brown January 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Loved both of these stories! I particularly appreciated the description of humans as “botherers.” Decades ago, I had a geology professor who warned us that the oceans were dying, and when they die, so do we. Unfortunately, that warning has not been heeded by all. Your stories are not preachy, but make the “warning” more personal, more emotional. Very well done.

    • dmmacilroy January 12, 2013 at 12:17 am #

      Dear Jan,

      Thanks for appreciating my efforts this week. We are the cause of the sixth great extinction on the planet. Wasn’t trying to go there, just wanted some of the loss to be seen from another perspective.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting so kindly.



  19. bridgesareforburning January 12, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    Hi Doug,
    Obviously, the music attracted the animal. Interesting theme and premise. And the double bass, if there’s an accident at sea, it can always serve as a lifeboat. Ron

    • dmmacilroy January 12, 2013 at 1:43 am #

      Dear Ron,

      Call me Ishmael. Riding around Alenuihaha Channel on my double bass? For about two minutes. Then it’s 18.000 feet straight down, land on the bottom and walk home.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Ron. Headed your way tonight.



  20. The Bumble Files January 12, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    Dear Doug,
    These are like mini masterpieces. I like how the two pieces play off of each other with the opposing viewpoints. Just beautiful, once again. The imagery is wonderful. I wish I could write like this.

  21. KC January 12, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    Whew…again with the pretty. I love this.

    It seems to me that a lot of people feel a connection to the sea and her beauty (and bounty) while not really thinking about her inhabitants any more than they can help. Taking sight-seeing tours and such may be a try at doing that, raising peoples consciousness about the whales…but to me, it makes them just another tourist attraction. “Look, we have whales! And sometimes they’ll actually come up and sneeze on you. Isn’t that awesome? What do they…eat? How do they mate? How many are there left? Ummm, yeah. Look, there she is…watch out folks, hope you brought your umbrellas!” Maybe a bit cynical, but I’ve always felt a strong connection to the creatures of the sea…maybe it’s just my half-Hawaiian heritage, even though I’ve never even been. Or maybe it’s growing up in Florida? I dunno…I like me some whales and dolphins and orca’s and seals and fish and sponges and coral and eels and…well, you get the picture. Oh! Can’t forget the Manatee!

    Again, great story…(Oh, and my dad said to tell you thank you for what you said. So I am. ;p )


  22. billgncs January 12, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Doug – that was as much poetry as story, and full of meaning and relevance.

  23. valeriedavies January 12, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    your stories moved me so much, the heart-aching lyricism of the first, and the pain of the second.. Like everyone else, I simply loved the botherers and the noise-makers…. kinder words than I would use, – the destroyers and deceivers!
    But then, dolphins and whales have an infinity of love that we humans couldn’t even begin to fathom… Like you, I hope they outlive us, in glorious peace and freedom in oceans restored to pristine purity….

  24. muZer January 12, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I loved the way you presented two perspectives of the same moment. So creative. The first perspective hit me more, especially the first stanza. Liked how you portrayed their feelings.. And so true too. Really enjoyed reading the stories.

  25. rochellewisoff January 12, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    Dear Doug,
    All the good comments have been taken…anything I’d say about your unique interpretation of the prompt would be a mere echo.
    You’ve educated and entertained and the reader is unaware of the writing because it’s flawless.
    Oh BTW, I’m having a party tonight to put wheels back on the RV. The neighbors are complaining about the cinder blocks.
    Diatomaceously yours,

  26. Linda Parkinson-Hardman January 12, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    I loved the two sides to this picture Doug. One the melancholic view of how man changes the environment around us and the other, the postive perspective that allows us to see that not everything man has created is bad. Thanks, it is definitely one of this weeks best.

    • dmmacilroy February 4, 2013 at 5:03 am #

      Dear Linda,

      I am sorry to have taken so long to respond to your kind comment. I blame… Trying to catch up and glad I found this waiting for moderation. I appreciate you reading my stories. Keen eyes help hone my craft. Thank you.



      • Linda Parkinson-Hardman February 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        Not a problem at all, keeping up is time consuming, but we mostly get there in the end and I do hate to miss the chance of being inspired as well 🙂

  27. kz January 12, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    both are FANTASTIC. your words are just so beautiful. thank you

    • wmqcolby January 12, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Doug, absolutely wonderful! You definitely have the sea around you. And TWO stories for the price of one … GREAT!
      As for the RV, Rochelle will be the first to claim it isn’t hers because Jews don’t camp. Right, O Queen? 😉

      • rochellewisoff January 12, 2013 at 11:58 am #

        Maybe if it’s up in the Catskills with just the right RV…hot and cold running water and room service.

      • wmqcolby January 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

        Mind reader!

  28. brudberg January 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Love the two viewpoints, and it reads like poetry. But I almost expected the whale to understand the hidden meaning in the music.

  29. Sunshine January 13, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    really is sad to read about the noise pollution and its effect on these sea creatures.

    i enjoyed both your stories that came together for me with your comment to elappleby:
    “I tried to imagine how the whales might view humans. Probably as misguided children. Maybe that’s why they’re so patient with us.”

  30. train-whistle January 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    my favorite this week. pure poetry. Your words sing. I’m going to go back and read and listen to them again. beautiful. thank you.

    • dmmacilroy February 4, 2013 at 4:53 am #

      Dear TW,

      Trying to say thanks to those comments I missed and i really missed this one. I am fortunate to have you looking over my shoulder as I write. Thanks for expressing your thoughts and feeling so clearly.



  31. EmmaMc January 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    I don’t know which one is my favourite, both are beautifully poetic. I think the first one clinches it, I love ‘I rise and see one pale noisemaker rub another’s red belly from which music issues’, Just lovely, I want to move to the sea.

    • dmmacilroy February 4, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      Dear Emma,

      My apologies for taking so long to respond to your comment. I am fortuante to have someone with your keen eyes keeping me on my toes. Looking forward to seeing your story next week.



  32. nightlake January 14, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    made a very interesting reading..thank you for sharing

  33. rheath40 January 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I could almost hear her tail slapping the water as you pluck the bass. So lovely.

  34. R. E. Hunter January 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Nice stories, from both sides. Reminds me of a whale watching trip years ago in New Brunswick. A whale (possibly finback, but I’m not sure) came up no more than ten feet from the side of the boat, just slowly sliding by. I got to look it right in the eye for about 15 seconds. Incredible creatures.

  35. Sarah Ann January 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Thanks Doug for the education and the juxtaposed stories. The voices in each are so strong – the whale’s beautiful and heartfelt.

  36. Debra Kristi January 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Hello Doug,

    I really felt your heart in that first piece. Two amazing stories. Thank you. And the link – wow. My heart ached as I read it, although I wasn’t surprised. You’ve shared some powerful stuff. Thank you for putting so much heart and thought into your work.

  37. Brian Benoit January 15, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    Amazing Doug – I loved the two perspectives, especially the beautiful descriptions from the whales point of view, and the quirky image of the biologist playing right there by the water. Excellent, all around

  38. rich January 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    such a dummy am i that i didn’t immediately make the connection between whales – their songs – and the sound of the cello/bass/musicy thing. there is art in nature and nature in art. well done. and empty call for one, but a momentous call to the other.

    • dmmacilroy January 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      Dear Rich,

      Thanks for reading and listening. Can you imagine what it would be like if our primary sense was hearing? I tried to but I imagine we’ll never bridge that gulf. I hope the whales cut us some slack.



      • rich January 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

        like the old question of which you would prefer to have if you could only have one – hearing or sight?

  39. bittercharm January 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    You are It!….


  40. Joe Owens February 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    I’d love to see a humpback whale someday. They are so majestic!


  1. #FridayFictioneers – 28/1/13 – Inheritance « Sarah Ann Hall - January 18, 2013

    […] had trouble trying to be too clever this week. Following on from Doug’s double-bill last week I wanted to examine Rochelle’s photo from two angles. The idea makes […]

  2. #FridayFictioneers – 28/1/13 – Inheritance « Sarah Ann Hall - January 18, 2013

    […] had trouble trying to be too clever this week. Following on from Doug’s double-bill last week I wanted to examine Rochelle’s photo from two angles. The idea makes […]

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