The van slows but doesn't stop. From the passenger window, Joe Chisholm, a production manager for Louie, sweeps the small beach with a thermal video camera. One arc light burns a muted halo out of the rain. Steep rock pinnacles bulk against the night.
"Now! Go!" Three of us tumble out the side door, jump a rope, duck below a concrete bungalow, and skirt the strand on a dead run. We have black carpet for going over the razor wire but don't need it. We swing around the fence and over the water, and place the rock cam. Louie, me, and Charles Hambleton, former guitarist for the Samples.
"Pete, you got the Bird's Nest?" Charles says to me.
I hand it up. He is halfway up a tree. The camera looks like its name; it can be operated remotely from a safe vantage 1,500 feet away.
"Hey, Charles?" I whisper.
The activists line up on the beach before the first day's paddle-out ceremony. Organizer Dave Rastovich is in the middle, without a shirt.
As we paddle out, we see the pilot whales. Ten or 15. we clear the corner and look into the cove. it is thick red, like paint. An entire inlet of blood.
"Unh." He has a wire tie in his mouth and a bunch of ferns.
"Did you write that song 'Feel Us Shaking'?"
"One of my all-time favorites."
It's strange. The wind is stiff off the sea and smells of salt, and even this deep into the inlet I can hear waves splashing. I am excited and having fun, but off to the right is a black hole where the killing cove lies. It feels like a darkness deeper than just the absence of daylight, like the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Two days after Louie first called me, I had driven up to his studio in Boulder. Louie named his film company the Oceanic Preservation Society, which has a perfect acronym: OPS. He and Charles had shown me footage. The dolphins were driven into the lagoon in whole pods, groups of families. They were slashed with spears. They were spiked behind the blowhole and bled out in the shallows. They shivered and cried and took a long time to die as their babies swam wildly around them. Soon I'll be witnessing this firsthand.
Charles jumps down. We have to hurry, get up to the blind on the cliffs. In a couple of hours dawn will flush the North Pacific. Then the celebrities and activists will roll in.
"Hey, Charles," I whisper as I help him quickly unwind the receiver wires to the nest cam. "I feel like I'm in the weirdest dream."
"Don't worry, it'll get weirder." He secures an antenna with camo tape. "Wait'll you see the helicopter."