“You think this is on account of the whales?” Parker asked, pulling the truck onto the sandy shoulder alongside the marsh.
“Duh,” I said. Of course it was the whales. Although the whales had been reduced to whale and dead whale at that. I couldn’t much see the point of bringing the kids out to gander at a dead whale.
“So we’re going to chainsaw a whale in front of all these witnesses?” Parker asked.
I gave him the evil eye. “The chainsaw is a last resort,” I said. Which was true, although being as most of the other avenues had been tried, I didn’t see we had much choice but to butcher the whale and cart it away. In front of all these witnesses. Even so, I left the chainsaw in the truck bed. For now,
Parker and I made our way past the milling crowd, or gawking crowd to be more accurate, to the beach. The whale lay just inside the tide line. The boundaries around the carcass had been staked out and were festooned by crime tape as though the whale had been murdered by thugs and CSI would be sent in to investigate. As it was, I wouldn’t have been surprised if a forensics unit had shown up. The place was crawling with every sort of official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Parked on the beach were two State Police cars, several local police sedans, a host of fire trucks, and a van that said SWAT Team.
I saw Max Groper among the official crowd at the crime scene. “Can you believe this nonsense?” he said, flailing his arms like a sea gull trying to take flight in a stiff wind. “You’d think these bone heads would know better. You’d think they’d never seen a beached whale before. But no. Hell no. Don’t take any advice from someone who might actually know something. Oh no, let the cops handle it.”
“Quite the response team,” I said. “Did you dial 911?”
Max rolled his eyes. “Some woman called to complain about the smell. Made her beach walk less than pleasant, she said. I explained to them that it was a new moon and the tide just isn’t coming up very far. A week would do the trick. We could tow it out to sea once the tide situation changes. Next week. But God forbid it sit there a week. Then I suggested that you and I cut the thing up and cart it away. But heavens, then we’d have whale parts on the beach and we can’t have that, can we?” As Max finished his tirade, I glanced at the whale carcass. It was a massive thing, stuck on a sandbar not a hundred yards from the main beach. The birds had begun doing cleanup, though it was an awful lot of carrion for a bird feast. And, with the wind coming off the bay, the smell was, to say the least, unpleasant. Several onlookers had pulled their jackets over their mouths and noses. Parker looked like he wanted to do the same.
“Should I get the chainsaw?” I asked.
Max looked at me as if he thought I hadn’t heard a word he’d said. But they needed to dispose of the body and they wanted to do it today, so I didn’t see we had much choice.
“You aren’t going to be allowed to butcher the whale in front of the crowd.”
“So send the crowd away,” I said.
“Oh, no. Oh, no. These geniuses have got a better idea. They’re putting dynamite under the carcass as we speak.”
“What?” Now it was me who questioned my ability to hear.
Max nodded like a bobble head. “That’s right. Dynamite. Just try to talk them out of it. We have half a dozen ocean people here, but oh no, they’ve got it figured out.”
“Kind of gives a whole new meaning to ‘there she blows,’ huh?” Parker said. To which Max gave him an icy stare.
“Not funny,” Max said.
“Actually, it kind of was,” I said, to which Max turned the icy stare on me.