Werewolf Radar: Men in Blecch
By Nate Balding
Art by Jason White
Published Issue 111, March 2023
Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about and see a motherfucking polyficial chimeric spectacle that I would call a mermaid and the crew of my ship would continue to believe was mostly a very lonely affinity for dolphins.
Call me Fishmael.
I sailed through many adventures alongside Captain ACAB in search of substantive police reform and, in our time on the seas, uncovered a series of totally unrelated but equally unlikely results. We pursued to the end of continents tropical and frozen in our captain’s fervor. Centuries it seemed like. Mine, however, was a pursuit differently guided. I’d seen things. And, no, I don’t mean hanging brain, festooned buttoon, whale tail over the rail, Davy Jones’ sock locker, bow to Daniel Stern, starboard fiesta, the way below deck, the only the crow’s nest knows, booty-booster, say “arrr” to the spar, what’s in the treasure chest, grapeshot, the pirate meets the lost boy, or any of those other common maritime shenanigans.
I mean, I’ve seen ‘em. I’ve just also seen a bunch of mermaids.
First I remember is ‘43. We’d been sidling through an entire World War making things go wherever they needed to go for whomever paid best (look, man, we were pirates). And then we started seeing her: A beautiful 5-foot-tall spike-spined siren like a sea-born chupacabra splashed from heaven. The people of the Kei Islands called her Orang Ikan, but I called her the reason to give me 10 minutes alone in the bunk twice a day.
Many of my shipmates called me insane; that I was experiencing some kind of pescapareidolia, but I knew otherwise. As far back as Pliny the Elder there were recorded sightings of mermaids and when they weren’t trying to eat you alive, they were pretty much always trying to fuck. So it was 50-50 even if it turned out to be, like, 100 percent more fish than person.
And we’d been at sea for a while.
Opium trading eventually brought us back across the Pacific where it turned out we could sail the coast running bananas, guns, banana-guns and Dole brand banammunition. In 1967, after many years of somehow still being a deckhand, I caught a glimpse of another one. She was perched on a rock at the edge of Mayne Island off the coast of British Columbia, flapping her tail as the freezing sea spray leapt through her hair. Had I been piloting the ship my prolific maid-gazing might have allowed us to hit the two passing ferries. Starting to think I know why I’d still been a deckhand.
Consumed by desire I dove, risking the brutality of the sea to once again find the place where the expanse of evolution meets love between broken waves. Which is how I met Judy Allred — normal human woman and promotional model for a local fishing derby. I don’t know what a fishing derby is either. She was actually quite charming.
It wouldn’t be until 1998 that I’d get my next encounter with Atlantean perfection. I’d long ended my tenure aboard ship, stowed on the shores of Kauai to marinate in UV rays and barbecue sand. Lotta people don’t know about Hawai’i’s barbecue sand. Kailua-Kona keeps many secrets. One of which is her mermaids. I was wetting my toes when local asshole Jeff Leicher came washing up, breathless for reasons that had nothing to do with his SCUBA, camera in hand. He spoke arrhythmically but I caught the word “mermaid” and went into the breach. I saw her, just beyond the coral, swimming with a pod of dolphins. On the advice of a man in a sparkling shirt ordering a “scorpion bowl” at a tiki bar, I decided to try and neg her. I doubt you’ve ever been punched by anyone’s dolphin boyfriend, but I don’t recommend it.
When the country of Israel offered a million dollar reward to find evidence of a mermaid off the coast of Kiryat Haim, I packed my bags and grabbed a flight. Old as I was in 2009 I hadn’t given up my delirium. Like Everything but the Girl’s desert missed the rain, I too had been struck with an unquenchable craving for the cryptopussiological dwelling that only the darkest seas could provide. To this day the bounty remains unclaimed.
And here I continue, waiting and watching. Wishing. Hoping beyond hope for that which once was to be again. An ignominious shadow on the beach, watching the devious-cruising of the wind and waves for my mermaid; another orphan in her wake.
Jerking off in public.
Have questions about the paranormal?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @WerewolfRadar.
It’s a big, weird world. Don’t be scared. Be Prepared.
Nate Balding is a freelance humanoid who occasionally manifests in print and can most likely be seen at Werewolf Radar. Should you wish to hear him manifest audibly you can do so at the aforementioned Werewolf Radar’s associated podcast on Spotify and Apple, and if anything ever becomes humorous again, on a variety of stand up stages around the nation. If you’re truly craving further content there’s always @Exploder on Twitter — even if it is only a form of digital self flagellation at this point. His one thing that he considers actually accomplished was this time he was published in the journal Nature and then later collected into a volume called Futures from Nature, still available in places that have things.
Jason White is an artist living in the suburbs of Chicago. His favorite mediums are oil on canvas and pencil & ink drawings. When he was a kid he cried on the Bozo Show. His work varies from silly to serious and sometimes both. Check out more of his work on Instagram.
Check out Nate’s February install, Werewolf Radar: Men In Blecch, and Jason’s companion art to Brian Polk’s A Little From Column One, A Little From Column Two, or head to our Explore section to see more of their work.