“Oy,” he said, to no one in particular. “Oy” he said again and his little grandson tugged at his sleeve.
“Yes little David.”
“Papa can we get an ice cream like last time.”
“Yes little David,” said his grandfather, “Give a smell to the sea to the breeze.”
David stopped and scrunched up his face in concentration and closed his eyes.
“I can smell the whales Papa, I can smell the whales.”
“Shush little one,” said his Grandfather.
No sooner did the shush leave the grandfather’s mouth when a huge whale breached in the distance, a second, then a third and David kept his eyes closed and the whales did their dance.
“I can hear them Papa”
Little David’s grandfather stood stock still his mouth agape, he looked down at his grandson and reached out his hand and smoothed the young boy’s hair and quietly said.
“If you open your eyes you can see them dancing.”
“No Papa if I open my eyes they will go away.”
“That is silly,” said his grandfather.
Little David opened his eyes and the sea was empty of whales, just wind and little whitecaps as if nothing had happened. Grandpa looking out at the sea turned his head quickly to look at his grandson blinking his beautiful blue green eyes. Little David closed his eyes and again he said,
“I can smell the whales Papa,”
again, first one great whale breached and then another, then two together and a fourth.
Grandpa took little David’s hand and they walked to the kiosk along the boardwalk and purchased a small soft dip cone for little David and for himself a newspaper of roasties. He was suddenly overcome by a nagging feeling of loss. He had lived a good man’s life; he had done everything according to the book. He went to synagogue on the Sabbath and always lit the correct number of candles and always kissed his wife good night and always kissed her in the morning. Seeing the whales just now had brought back memories of graduate school when he had been offered an opportunity to go to the Amazon and study Killer Bees and that night when he arrived home his wife had announced that they were pregnant with little David’s mother. He had come in and doffed his coat and hat and he took his wife in his arms and with his bravest smile had given her a good long kiss and he was happy and he never mentioned the Amazon. Instead he went to the cupboard and got out the bottle of wine that they were saving for a special occasion and they had a toast. He hadn’t thought about that for a good long time and he looked down at little David who was happily licking his ice cream cone, which was dripping onto his shirt and he felt a tear slowly rolling down his cheek.
The Admiral’s Boy