Chapter 19, The Prophet; or whereby I regain my place at the head of an empty table!
by Buxton Brown
Oh Ho Ho there you are. Missed me? Of course you did, it’s only been about 4 years. You thought I had forgotten about you and our sacred pact to read Moby-Dick together, didn’t you? I was simply testing your faith, ensuring that the strength of our bond was as eternal and enduring as celebrities need for attention.
What have I been doing in these last four years whilst you waited with baited breath for chapter 19? Simply living I tell you, embracing all that this strange little life has to offer, from writing a treatise on the pitfalls of doing battle under the influence to learning how to make an omelet worth eating, because for some reason the world insists on simply making a burnt egg scramble pancake with stuff in the middle and calling it an omelet.
But alas we are here not to dissect the culinary arts, nor the merits and trappings of a life spent fighting strangers on PCP, but to embrace this gargantuan tome of whaling and adventure. Welcome back to the table my friend. Let’s see how Ishmael and Queequeg have been faring.
Last we left off, our boys had locked up employment aboard the Pequod, though we have yet to meet Ahab. Whilst taking in the scenery of Nantucket, no doubt cherishing their last moments on dry land with equal parts boyish excitement and nervous apprehension that precedes any venture worth taking, our boys are approached by a rather odd fellow who has some choice words in regards to the Pequod and it’s captain. Apparently there is a strange history to this Ahab, who is affectionately referred to as “Old Thunder.” Our historian of the streets asks our dear narrator if he has heard the tales of this Old Thunder.
“But nothing that happened to him off Cape Horn, long ago, when he lay like dead for three days and nights; nothing about that deadly skrimmage with the Spaniard afore the alter in Santa? – heard nothing about that eh? Nothing about the silver calabash he spat into? And nothing about his losing his leg last voyage, according the prophecy?”
Wait, what prophecy? Has the fate of our dear narrator, his worldy savage friend, and their unhinged boss, been foretold? Was it written in the stars long ago? Also, what the fuck is a calabash? Apparently it’s a very intense NIGERIAN NOLLYWOOD MOVIE!!!!!? It’s definitely not a tree. Also, I think I need to hear this story about the kerfuffle with the Spaniard and the alter. Was there a marriage about to take place? More likely ritual sacrifice? Both? Either way, I’ll bet it happened at college. Sounds promising. If I hear anything more of this tale of woe in further pages, I’ll be sure to keep you informed.
Ishmael and Queequeg agree that this old man, who reveals his name to be Elijah, seems to be a little shook, a tad cray, and mayhaps too many nights spent under the stars with naught but a dunkin donuts trash bag full of boston cream for a pillow. They seem content in their assessment “that he was nothing but a humbug, trying to be a bugbear.”
Chapter 19 concludes with Elijah lurking behind our boys for a bit. When Ishmael attempts to confront his unusual behavior, Elijah passes by pretending not to know them.
“This relieved me; and once more, and finally as it seemed to me, I pronounced him in my heart, a humbug.”