As the Macaroni Grill faded from my little bubble of light, the sound of the sea teamed up with the wind to take possession of the night. Under siege of bullets of rain, I flung off my blankets. “This is personal,” I muttered as I leapt up, then strode across the room, pulled back the drape, and slid open the balcony door to confront the bully ocean. But the wind knocked me back with a blast of razor-sharp rain that stung my face and in the seconds it took to slam the door shut soaked me through to the skin.
Even after I’d dried off, turned up the heat, and withdrawn into my blanket, something disconcerting seemed to inhabit my room. The gray ceiling beams came together over the bed like an upturned ship. In the eye of my own storm, I opened the bed-stand drawer, slid out the holy book....
Trying to avoid God’s directive to go to Nineveh to turn the people from their godless ways, Jonah stowed away on a ship bound for another port. To express his displeasure with Jonah, “the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken...”
To save themselves, the sailors tossed Jonah into the sea where he was devoured by a big fish. And from the belly of the fish, Jonah cried out.
“...The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped around my head....I will pay that that I have vowed....”
And when Jonah finally agreed to go to Nineveh, the fish barfed him up onto the land.
A drowsiness overcame me. I turned off the lamp and drifted into sleep.
The next day, I avoided the ocean by taking a hike in Cape Lookout State Park. I chose a trail that wound through a spruce forest that opened up to a rocky cliff high above the Pacific. Panic attacked me on the way back to the car.