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Gus Openshaw's Whale-Killing Journal


On June 11, 2004 an Oakland, California cat food cannery worker began keeping an online diary (known as a "web log"-or "blog" for short) to enlist the public's aid in finding the whale he alleged had eaten his wife, infant son and arm. The first few entries appear below.

On March 24, 2006, the blog was published in its entirety (as an old-fashioned book) by MacAdam/Cage. Check it out at BarnesandNoble.com and in bookstores throughout the Seven Seas.


Posted by Gus Openshaw at 4:46 PM MNT
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I Got A Fish To Kill


June 11
Don't make me relive the details just now. The short of it: a whale ate my wife, kid and right arm. And he got away. For the time being.

Now, there are these Indians in the state of Washington. They have one of those licenses you can get--because of a special religious dispensation or whatever--to kill one whale a year. For probation agreement reasons that I can't get into, I had to get myself one of these licenses before I could go back out on the water--let alone set a toe on a dock--without getting shot at by the damn Coast Guard. So I went up to Washington to pow-wow with those Indians.

Prior to the incident, I worked on the line at a cat food cannery. Literally the worst stinking job you can get. Point is, I was earning just north of squat. But I'd married way better than I deserved. And when she died, I was worth--including everything from the house to my boxer shorts--$515,200. Oddly, the Indian Chief priced the license at $515,000, take it or leave it. I took it, gladly. I later learned that my lawyer had "coincidentally" done some "legal work" for the same Indians that same day, getting him a check $51,500. But I was too busy readying my boat to care about the lawyer. My thoughts were on getting to the neck of the Caribbean where a particularly fat sperm whale had been sighted.

I bought an old wooden cabin cruiser from a geezer in Port Helslop, Washington for $20. Wood boats are a bitch is why. Takes a good couple hundred hours to scrape and paint the hulls every year. Invention of fiberglass made wood boats' asses obsolete. So folks with wood boats they don't use no more are left with this dilemma: "Do I keep paying two grand a year to keep this sucker in dry dock, or do I pay some guy twice that much to come over, chain saw my family heirloom apart and haul it to the dump?" So the price for these craft is zip. The twenty bucks was for the gas in her. And it was a good fifty bucks worth of gas.

A few days later, a few leagues north of the Equator, I upgraded to a 180-foot superyacht that came with this computer I'm blogging on now. I'll get to that next time I blog. Now I got to hit the head.


Posted by Gus Openshaw at 12:01 AM MNT
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For Once, I Get Lucky


June 12
A few leagues north of the Equator, I was dozing at the controls. Had been sitting there like a statue for three straight days. Suddenly, I looked up and realized I was about to broadside a 180-foot superyacht.

I grabbed the wheel and spun for all I was worth. Unfortunately, my damn body keeps forgetting that, thanks to the bastard, I got no right arm no more. So I wasn't worth much. It was enough though to swerve just in time to miss clipping the stern.

It was odd the yacht hadn't so much as honked. No one seemed to be aboard. Doubtful everyone on a boat that big'd be below deck at one time. No lifeboats lowered. Copter still on the helipad. No swimmers in sight. She seemed empty and adrift.

I tossed up a line and climbed aboard. My panting from the two-story climb (having forgot I only had one damn arm again) was the only sound on the whole craft. I nosed around. Most of the staterooms had people's clothes and crap in them. Dinner for a dozen or so--three-day-old steak and flat-as-my-first-wife champagne--was sitting on a dining table the foredeck. A bunch of clothes were splayed out on the quarter. Weird as fuck, huh?

Here's what I think happened: There's an old maritime tradition that when you cross the equator on a new boat, everyone--passengers, crew, chihuahuas, whoever--jumps in. This champagned-up bunch evidently stripped down and hopped over the rail without realizing they had no way to re-board. These sleek superyachts got no ladders and crap like that. Hull's too sheer to climb up unless you got suction cups up and down your limbs. So they drowned. Poor bastards, I thought. Truth is though, I always feel a bit better when people are stupider or have worse luck than me.

There's another old maritime tradition. It goes something like, "Lost at sea, belongs to me." It basically means if you're enough of an idiot to lose your boat, you don't deserve it, and whoever's the finder is the rightful keeper. I doubt that would stand up in court. And if it gets even within a whiff of court, I'll probably take the rap for the missing passengers and crew. But I've got bigger fish to kill. With that in mind I cut loose my S.S. Piece of Crap cabin cruiser, which at that point was only afloat cause the termites were holding hands, and took the helm of my new superyacht. Unlike the cabin cruiser, she'll be able to keep pace with the bastard (sperm whales can do 30 mph). Then turn him into cold cuts.

I anchored her off St. Kitts. I rowed ashore and pawned a bunch of Rolexes and crap I'd found aboard. Netted $44,500 in cash. I then tried to hire some crew. Found a couple old guys with harpoon experience. Best I could get otherwise was a couple drug addicts who might have waited around the rest of their lives without getting another berth. When you go into a fish-stinking island seamen's bar and offer cash for a mystery job on a boat you won't name, the best and the brightest sailors don't usually line up. Gotta log off now because one of my new hires just came into the captain's quarters and wants to kill me.


P.S. Here's the bar I hired my crewmen at, scrimshawed by one of the harpooners. He's been scrimshawing caricatures on bar napkins to make ends meet. He and I both hope to get him some whale teeth to scrimshaw on now.



Posted by Gus Openshaw at 12:01 AM ADT
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The Cook Tries To Filet Me


June 14
A crew's gotta have a cook for a long journey. It could take us several months to get the whale. On a tip from the barkeep on St. Kitts, I stopped off at a boarding house where I found an unemployed cook named Duq (pronounced "Duck"). He was cooking as it happens--lowering a live lobster into a steaming pot, which seemed to give him an awful lot of joy.

The barkeep had told me that prior to joining the vietcong as a kid, Duq had never cooked up anything more than a bowl of noodles. During the war, he became a top interrogator. After the war, the tools of the interrogation trade--knives, cleavers, boiling water and oils--got him a job in a slaughter house in Hanoi. The chance to earn a better salary led him to prep work in the kitchen of a French restaurant in North Vietnam. There, Duq realized he had a flair for the culinary arts, especially dishes that were boiled or served on a skewer. This enabled him to rise to the position of sous-chef. A short time later, the position of Head Chef opened when the previous holder of the job was found lying in the alley behind the restaurant with a skewer stuck through his heart. Duq filled in to some acclaim. In the late 70s he was hired to be the personal chef for some rich guy's yacht. When he heard one of the rich guy's guests comment that the corn was too salty, Duq stuck one of those little corn cob holder things into the guy's face. This began a couple decade cycle where Duq's skills got him hired and his psychoticness got him canned. And each gig was less and less prestigious. When I met him, it had been a year since his last one, manning the deep fryer at a conchburger stand on St. Martin. He was eager to work again, and I was lucky to get someone with his know-how. Or so I thought.

Then the other night he rushed into my captain's quarters with the cleaver. He was after the 50 grand in my desk. And I was in the way. He swung. The cleaver struck me right where the right elbow meets the upper arm. Luckily (in this case), I have no right arm, having lost it to an equally psycho whale. The blade lodged in the oak desk. I then whacked Duq in the skull with the computer. He dropped to the floor like a sack full of crap. For good measure, and to make sure he wasn't faking, I kicked him upside the head. I'm going to dock him a week's pay for this.


P.S. Here's a scrimshaw ( done on a paper plate) of my new cleaver by Flarq, the harpooner, who likes scrimshawing cleavers, I guess:



Posted by Gus Openshaw at 12:01 AM ADT
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Know My Enemy


June 17
Racing southbound by the stars, having got word of a pod with a really fat straggler at 10degrees 21' N and 66/ 42' W, near Venezuela. In the event it's yet another false alarm, here's the info from the Wanted Poster I've been sticking up at the docks, plus some extra explaining for the greenhorns:

He's about 70 feet long and weighs about 60 tons, which means he'd be pushing the max if they had Big & Tall stores for sperm whales (this could be cause he's psychotic and eats stuff his kind aren't supposed to--guys named Gus's families for instance). His skin's battleship gray, like a prune in texture. He's got a big fat box-shape head 30 feet long, 15 feet high, and 10 across. Blowhole on the front, just like in the cartoon shows. Now, here's the key thing--even more key than the extra boatload of blubber: Right smack between his eyes is a lighter-color-of-gray scar in the shape of a "B," as in bastard. Sperm whales get scars like this from their favorite snack, giant squids, who aren't too pleased about getting eaten.

I'd give more details--past sightings of him, stuff like that--but I just got news over the blower that we're being boarded by pirates. So I got to go deal with that. Meantime, please post coordinates or whatever else you got on him. If I live through the night, I'll be much obliged.



Posted by Gus Openshaw at 12:01 AM ADT
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The Crew and Me Get Booked


November 10, 2005
News Item:

The right fine folks at MacAdam/Cage Publishing are going to print up this here fish story as a book and publish it on March 24, 2006. It'll have some fresh whale-killing yarns in it, plus lots of scrimshaws not seen over the internet. Order yourself a copy by clicking here. To get the scoop on author tour dates and other whale-killing news, get yourself on the mailing list.




P.S. Don't fret that the mailing list'll get you any junk mail or porn, unless you include my shipmate Nelson the pirate's Initial Public Offering, which falls into both categories.


Posted by Gus Openshaw at 12:01 AM ADT
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