Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover A novel by Malcolm J. Brenner Copyright 1974, 1978, 2009 by Malcolm J. Brenner Published at Smashwords by Eyes Open Media 5895 Swaying Palm Drive Punta Gorda, FL 33982 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a written review in connection in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast.
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locations described herein, with the exception of public figures, are fictitious and wholly the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual characters, living or dead, is unintentional, accidental and purely coincidental.
ISBN: 978-0-615-33460-8 This book is available in print at most online retailers. Edited and designed by Eyes Open Media, Punta Gorda, Florida [email protected]
http://www.wetgoddess.net Cover photo: Malcolm J. Brenner Colorization: Sam Pillsbury Book available at: www.wetgodess.net
Dedication To John Cunningham Lilly, M.D., who inspired me to write it; To Cay Small, my “shipmate,” who saw me through some rough weather; And most of all to D. T. T., who was there.
Table of Contents Prologue: The Least Impossible Improbabilities Ch. 1 “Welcome to Florida Funland!” Ch. 2 Invisible Fetters Ch. 3 Three Scenic Vistas Ch. 4 Fatally Fogged Film
Ch. 5 Off The Beach Ch. 6 Echoes Ch. 7 Language Lessons Ch. 8 Ruby’s First Overture Ch. 9 “Avoiding Biased Assumptions” Ch. 10 Walking On Air Ch. 11 The Dolphin Of The Mind’s Eye Ch. 12 Dream Seas Ch. 13 Warmer Waters Ch. 14 Pandemonium At The Porpoise Pens! Ch. 15 Call Of The Deep Ch. 16 A Sticky Situation Ch. 17 The Fury Of A Dolphin Scorned Ch. 18 My Dinner With Salina (And Hank) Ch. 19 Outside The Fence Ch. 20 Departures And Other Distractions Ch. 21 The Last Porpoise Show Ch. 22 Rapture Of The Deep Ch. 23 Nightmare Ch. 24 At The Lillys’ Pad Ch. 25 A Corner In Time Ch. 26 Ruby’s Return Ch. 27 Dead Reckoning Ch. 28 Reconciliation Ch. 29 Undertow Ch. 30 Waverider Epilogue: Christmas, 1995 Acknowledgements Writing this novel was a solitary preoccupation, and I am solely responsible for its content. However, a few individuals have added something along the way. John C. Ribbler, a.k.a. "the Scribbler,” gave me early moral support, and Connie Clesczewski typed a manuscript. Joan McIntyre published an excerpt from an early draft of Chapter 7 in her classic anthology Mind In The Waters, and Mark Bower set me up with Penthouse. Steve Roosa rented me a writer's cottage.
Barbara Darsey put up with me when I was crazy afterward. Sally Lucke was always encouraging. Dr. A. A. “Mac” Miller at New College taught me three important things about writing, but I forgot what they were. Paul Spong gave me a knowing nod and a wink. Dr. Randall Wells has always listened to my rantings with tolerance and without derision. Marylin Gautier suggested some improvements to the manuscript. Marilyn Tarnowski also helped. Deino Crown has been a big fan and supporter. My brother Hugh supported me for several months. Many compassionate professional counselors helped me deal with the emotional aftershocks of this experience. I’m sure there were others who are worthy of mention here that I’ve overlooked or, sadly, forgotten. My sincerest apologies. Citations An excerpt from an earlier version of this novel under a different title was published in the 1974 Scribners’ anthology Mind In the Waters, Joan McIntyre, editor. “Say Rooo-Beee!” pg. 186. Another excerpt, “Making Waves.” appeared in the Nov. 1978 issue of Penthouse. Used with permission. Sources for quotations and lyrics cited at the beginning of each chapter are given in place. They and the following brief excerpts from other works are used under provisions of the Fair Use Act: See Ruby Fall. Johnny Cash. “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” 1970. Up From The Skies. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Axis: Bold As Love,” 1969. Crown Of Creation. Jefferson Airplane, “Crown Of Creation,” 1968. Call Any Vegetable. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, “Absolutely Free,” 1968. Ruby Tuesday. The Rolling Stones, “Flowers,” 1967. Charitable Note: A percentage of the cover price from retail sales of this book is donated by the author to non-profit scientific, environmental and conservation organizations that conduct humane and ethical research on dolphins, educate the public, work to protect their environment and lobby on their behalf. – M.J.B.
Author’s Apology I am sure almost anybody could write a better novel than this. Its chief defect, it seems to me, is that most of it happens to be true. Looking into his grey eyes and fondling the dense growth on his shoulder, she said, “We are bound to hurt one another so much, again and again. We are so terribly different.” “Yes,” he said. “But the more different, the more lovely the loving.” – Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord. Olaf Stapledon, London, England, 1944
Ruby, a bottlenose dolphin (species Tursiops truncatus) in a sea-level pen. Prologue:
The Least Impossible Improbabilities My name – please get this right! – is Zachary Zimmerman, and before I level with you about Ruby and me and all the strange, sad and beautiful things that happened to us, let’s get one other detail straight: I never intended to fall in love with a dolphin! I mean, I didn’t exactly wake up one morning thinking “Gee, I guess I’ll get romantically involved with a 400-pound, legless marine mammal today!” Nobody does, any more than your average Joe suddenly gets “light in the loafers” or a devoted housewife ditches her hubby and tykes for a Harley and dykes. It just doesn’t happen like that, and anyone who says otherwise is either messing with your head or reaching for your wallet, probably both. I maintain, if you looked long enough at those people (or at yourself, if this has happened to you), you would always find the unexpected, and usually unwelcome, “revelation” foreshadowed by some obscure event in their past. Or in my case, several. With that in mind, you should know that the startling revelations recounted here were just the least unlikely among a suspiciously large number of improbable occurrences during my sophomore college year, when I was still young, stoned and immortal. Indeed, so many strange events occurred in my proximity in so short a time it would be folly to attribute all of them to chance, or even to my frequent ingestion of mind-altering substances. And while I have, alas, grown older, and I’m no longer as immortal as I used to be, no matter what I eat, drink or smoke, nothing like this happens to me any more, goddamn it! So I’m certain that a percentage of these events, no matter how unbelievable they now sound, had to be genuine, authentic consensus-reality weirdness! And of that authentic weirdness, the events surrounding Ruby were, by virtue of their consistency, frequency and quality, the least impossible of multiple improbabilities! Some of these occurrences, while intrinsically interesting, were easily discarded as irrelevant. Others, like a conversation with Salina following our nocturnal skinny-dip in a famous dolphin’s pen, could have been included to buttress my conclusions. I chose otherwise to maintain focus on the development of my relationship with Ruby, which was extraordinary enough without embellishment!
What happened, over the nine months we knew each other in the flesh, was less like an identity crisis and more like a dream wherein I fled a tidal wave in slow motion. The wave looked awesome, even beautiful, all glassy green and translucent, but it was inescapable, and I knew it was going to wash away everything and take me with it. And surfing the crest of that crashing dream-wave was this dolphin, the one I’m calling Ruby in this story. She was laughing at my slow, bipedal flight, but she was also saying, “Come join me! We can ride this out together.” To suddenly realize, without warning or guidance, that I was not what society prepared me to be, not what my parents expected me to be, not even who I thought I was or wanted to be, was devastating and destabilizing. By learning to accept me as a human being, Ruby helped me to accept myself, and that was tremendously liberating – so much so I overlooked its dangers. But then, so did she, and I believe she understood them better. After all, I was a callow college student, still practically a virgin; she was a tough old ‘phin who’d been rolled in the eel grass many times before Beau made a showgirl out of her, and she had the rake-marks to prove it. Given her previous experience, she should have known better than to flip flukes over snout for one of her captor’s species! In addition to being lethal, fickle and clueless under water, we are such very, very conceited creatures… …Sorry, I digress. To return to my original point, let me repeat it just one more time, a little stronger, for emphasis: I NEVER INTENDED TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THAT &^%$#@ SHE-DOLPHIN! There. Got that straight? Good! Because nothing else in this story will be… including me.
This isn’t a great picture, but it does capture the dolphin show’s main features: the big pool, the jumping tower, the hoops, the chickee, the riverboat, Star (jumping) and Hank.
Chapter 1: “Welcome to...