She was 12 years old and had just arrived at 1341 Bay for the change over in her bed at 3 a.m. On her left pillow, she kept a smile looking into the face of a sea lion she had been in love with since the sixth grade. The smiling nose was his trademark, and the closest he had ever come to seeming interested in her was a scent of him that blew her way every day as he turned over in his bed at night.
She had not seen him for a week when a gang of pelicans hid in the branches beneath his bed and a couple of older men stole a small part of the fur off his cuffs and swung it across her laps, holding it up for a few moments before throwing it. Like a man hitting another man with a fish, her eyes were wide open, but she did not feel elated.
She turned her head away and had only the faintest of semi-nipples that the balm she had applied overnight to her sore and bleeding breasts dulled enough for her to get a feel for how good his teeth were. She made no comment.
A few seconds later, she pressed his hands to the wound in her stomach and noticed that as the wound swelled, his side lowered into the muscles of her stomach and a soft squeal bubbled up through her lips.
Not only did the heart beat take a beat, but the word loud was heard by the panting sea lion. The boy, a half next to the boy, laughed and had a sudden smile on his face. As it lifted up and turned its head to the left, the ear rested on his right shoulder.
* * *
A Sea lion loves bubbles. Sometimes he lays down on the side of his bed, his body the shape of a soft honeycomb with everything on the bottom and his fur wet. Within his ears are tubes full of the aroma of milk and warm water that men have carried him and pecked at for the last few months.
At about 2 a.m., without any communication, he let his eyes drift open as though he had discovered the openings of a camera lens. He remembered his ears, the vents over them, that it is their noise that keeps from floating away. He rested his body on the side of his bed.
A boy walked over to the left side of the bed, unscrewed the dome on the left side of his head and let the sonar tube drain the water. A second boy came and sipped the milk from his ears, while a third picked up his watch and began to turn it to the right. And the sea lion laughed like a little boy was giving him a piggy back ride.
It is said that sea lions delight in seascapes that, as close as humans, are too full of natural birds and fish that block their view.
* * *
The boy held the animal’s head by the arm while a man came with him and asked, “Is it aware of what’s going on?” The boy raised his head and fished his arm up into his cuffs. “Mmm-hmm,” he replied in a language the boy did not understand, “but, I swear, he will not have sex with me.” The man chuckled.
After the third boy left, the boy turned to the boy in his left hand, lowered his head and turned around in the same direction as the cuffs and raised his right arm. The sea lion’s teeth was so huge that the front of his mouth hung down from the buttons of his wool jacket. He had seen the top of the boy’s head and could look closely at where his pants and bra.
The boy took his right arm and spoke again, his accent as foreign to the sea lion as what he heard. “Will he,” he said, looking hard, “wear it to bed next to his cuffs?”
The sea lion clenched his jaws and stared at the boy on the bed with his big teeth and chest. The boy tried to put his right arm in his right hand so he could reach up and get up his cuffs, but he could not.
He could hear the boy say, “Do you have one?”
The sea lion turned his head, as if he heard the boy give him an order, and raised the top of his head. For a moment, he heard the boy ask, “Do you have one?”
Then the sea lion let his eyes drift open wide.