There is a sea lion who knows that each day, as the fishing charter boats return to port, he will be fed.
He’s a massive, cranky old bastard, and he’s known as Oscar.
The fisherman arrive in port and begin gutting and filleting their catch of salmon and halibut, throwing Oscar the remains of fish which sell for upwards of $50 per kilo.
He thrashes his great blubbery body and tosses dead fish through the air.
He pretends to himself that he is the great, natural born predator he would be without human intervention.
This is not a story about Oscar (the sealion).
But it is a story about a man I had in the bar who I’ve given the name of Oscar, because he was a grumpy old bastard with yellow teeth and a nose squashed flat to his face.
Oscar (the sealion) may not be mentioned again. This a story about Oscar (the man).
At 3pm on a Wednesday, Oscar (the man) ordered a pint and a shot of tequila.
Oscar paid cash and did not tip.
Oscar then fed twenty dollars into the tabs lotto, which would win him three dollars which he would celebrate with another pint.
All the while he spoke, or muttered, or grunted occasionally intelligible words which made their escape through a mouth and nose which protruded from his face roughly the same distance.
But his eyes seemed excited, betraying whatever anger he held and telling of an enthusiasm.
For anger, maybe, or sadness.
He fed another twenty dollars in the machine and broke about halfway even, somewhat justifying his excited eyes.
Oscar lived up the way, he gestured, up past the hostel and over looking the bay.
“I was renting a holiday house up that way with some friends when I first got to town,” I told Oscar, for some reason, while pouring another pint and another shot of tequila.
He grunted the name of the family owning the land, and I nodded.
“People staying there have no respect. No respect for the property.
“I had some of them shooting fireworks at my house one night! From the headland, straight at my house!
“I yelled at them to fucking quit it but they kept at it, so I was going to go over there with Louis.”
“Louis?” I asked.
“Louis. The Louisville Slugger. The baseball bat in the closet. Show them what’s what.”
“What good would that have done?” I asked.
“Well, if it was one on one it would have been good fun at least.”
He ordered another pint and an order of hot wings, paid cash and did not tip.
I decided not to tell Oscar (the man) that it would not have been one on one.
He didn’t need to know he would have found over a dozen people, all experiencing a happy delirium and without any inclination to fight or indulge his anger.
I didn’t feel the need to correct him about the trajectory of the fireworks (skyward), if he was able to find some peace in his continuing anger.
He could remain unaware that it was his unassuming bartender and a group of friends, having shared a few tabs of acid, hanging out on the cliff overlooking the sea on the property we had rented, who were letting off fireworks one night for no other reason than it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I felt it was best to let Oscar (the man) tell his story, thrashing his head in his anger and tossing his ill gotten ideas around like a sea lion with an already dead fish.