THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM OF RITUAL’S
In my 18 years here at Sport and Gaming, nothing has caused more infighting and heartache. Nothing. The sheer number of claims to the Wave … simply staggering. It’s been my personal goal, tracking the Wave … my white whale, if you will. I’ve been working on a book. I’m trying to incorporate that “whale” metaphor into the title. The White Wave maybe, except there’s a surfing collective that holds the copyri—
Oh, that? A Neanderthal. This is a statue of Gabak, inventor of the formless yell. You know, “Aaahhh,” or “Waauuughh.” We can’t be a hundred percent certain of what he looked like, and the PR department chose those clothes. Pshh. A loin cloth. Anything to get tourists in here.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with a lot of details. In a nutshell, modern claims are all bunk. We’d tracked the Wave to the Normans in the English conquest, but then we found a tapestry dating back to Pepin the Short’s reign. He’s pictured on the tapestry, straining to do the Wave himself. Hilarious. I’m sorry I can’t show you. It’s quite fragile.
Then it turned out that the Franks had read about the Wave in a lesser-known tract by Pliny the Younger. “Oh hell,” we said, “now we’re into classical times.” We think they did the Wave naked, but our facts are spotty. And before that … well. We can only guess.
APEX CUSTODIAL SERVICES
I don’t talk about it much. Don’t have much cause. Lord, it was … This was close to 50 years ago. Had a lot of jobs since. A lot of things I don’t remember from back then. And I’m not saying that because of the hush money—hell, what are they gonna do to an old man? But then, some things just …
Pour me a bit more of that good stuff, will you?
Worked lots of places worse than Dow Chemical. Lots. Decent bunch, but humorless. Paranoid. Always wondering who was watching them. If we had a notice not to clean this or that room, we took it seriously. But I took my work seriously, and when Eddie lit out that night …
Always cutting corners, Eddie. Never marked on the checklist where he’d mopped. So it was up to me to check lab 4, neurotoxin wing.
I should have left when I saw the green glow, but … I opened her up just to take a gander at the floor. It was gonna be in and out. But the mice …
Well, I’ve seen lots of dead things. You clean nooks and crannies long enough, you get used to it. Rats, bugs, the odd bat. That’s how I knew these mice weren’t dead. They were lined up in rows in this huge, flat glass box. Just sitting. And that machine in front of them, I think they call it an oscilloscope? That murky green wave moving across the screen. And …
I can’t rightly explain what changed in me, seeing those mice. Standing on their hind legs with the movement of that green line. Like they were on a rope. Over and over again, with precision. Precision. They moved as one. Like they’d become that electronic wave.
Jumped a mile when a tech walked in and asked what I was doing there. Then he recognized me and got this shifty look on his face. Said the lab was off limits for cleaning that night. I have no idea what I said to get out of there. No idea.
Next day it started. Long stares. Cold front from the engineers. When they finally called me in for a chat, I was set to turn in my coveralls. But they were all charm, these management guys, which creeped me out worse. They said some stuff about loose lips. I knew the score.
Not long after, people started doing it.
That’s the day I quit going to games. Baseball, football. I couldn’t even stand to be near my kids’ soccer games for fear of people lifting themselves, like those squirming gray mice with their beady eyes fixed on the green line. Empty eyes. That’s what I see. The empty eyes reflecting that bad light.
Hear me and tremble, ye who would seek an audience with the Lord of the Seas! He who makes the whales bellow and the eels electrify has come to settle yet another affair of man. As in my wrath I set Odysseus adrift, so in my mercy do I set you, the land-dwelling mortals, on the correct course.
Truly, mankind has nothing better than this? No naval wars, no …? So be it. I shall begin.
I do not claim parentage of your so-called Wave. Do you think the Master of the Fishes would insult the tides with such a foolish namesake? No. Though the waves of the sea spring from my very will, the Wave springs from man’s limited abilities.
Ha ha ha! Do not cower in shame! I mean no insult. Though your Wave be a crude thing, it was created in humility, with reverence.
Have you not heard of the mortal Trachomenes? Pah. Your culture has sunk lower than the Marianas Trench. For Trachomenes was a great dramatist, revered in his time, forgotten by rash humanity. His son enjoyed frolicking in my realm, splashing and swimming and laughing. He did not grimace at the slimy kelp, as so many of you do. One day, though, the son of Trachomenes unknowingly pissed in the face of a Nereid, who grew angry and tossed the child to the deep waters where my undertow is to be feared. He struggled and cried out, and his cries reached me. I admit, the young ones swell my briny heart, and I was moved to save him.
What? Who interrupts the anecdote of Poseidon? No, brainless one, I did not “tow him to shore.” What kind of rescue is that? Hang your head and be silent! With my Olympian skill for mythmaking, I disguised myself as a giant clam to swallow the boy, so his puny lungs would be safe. He called out, “Lo, I am saved from one death, but condemned to another! How shall I breathe in this space?” I bade Zephyrus the West Wind blow air inside me so the boy might breathe. A peculiar sensation, that.
Then I made my great journey—slowly, as a clam lacks swiftness. One day, a pearl seeker on the Ionian shore found me and opened me, expecting to make his fortune. Instead, the boy leapt out! Nearby, Trachomenes was mourning with his family when his teary eyes beheld his son running toward him. After the boy told his tale, Trachomenes lay prostrate and said, “This is an act of the great and benevolent Poseidon!” But how best to thank the Ruler of the Reefs?
Trachomenes was so grateful that he created a theatrical metaphor honoring the mighty waves that had borne his son home. The mortals stood and sat, one by one, row by row. How beautifully they rolled through the theatron! I was pleased. Greatly pleased indeed.
And so you have been enlightened by the fell Poseidon. Use your knowledge justly, minions, and hail Trachomenes, bringer of the Wave.