real fresh from this morning's coffee:
Then Willy came in with a pair of lobsters. Crustaceans are another kind of creature that are hard to sympathize with. Real ugly I thought. It was kind of funny. The tank was near the entrance to the aquarium and it looked like we were running a high-class sea food restaurant. Exotic food too—you could get some sand rays, morays, a few little gobies, maybe some tartar sauce. I even made Willy laugh with a bad French accent I did when we were trying to get the lobsters in their tank.
“Magnifique!” I said. “Willy—get me zeh buttar!”
They were a real pain though, the lobsters. The two of them were in a five gallon
bucket and I had to get them out with a small net on a pole. They were wild lobsters, as lobsters tend to be, and they’d snap at me if I tried to grab them.
Getting them out of the bucket wasn’t hard, but getting them untangled from the net and into their tank was the tricky bit. They were prickly-shelled with delicate antennas, and all that would get caught up in the net, and I couldn’t thrash it too much without hurting them, and I couldn’t reach in and untangle them without hurting myself. So I stirred them about in the big tank like it was a boiling pot and the net was a ladle, until they fell loose, and we laughed about their ugly faces. Willy seemed to be in a good mood, warm despite the cold outside.
The same day, one of my last days there, I found another horn shark egg, same brown corkscrew drill-bit, but different. It was thick and ripe and full. It was clear that it was a real egg with a real shark in there—a beautiful little spotted fish, full-futured. Willy held it up to the light the way you’d hold an envelope with a letter you weren’t supposed to read, or maybe a vegetable you were sizing up at the grocer’s, and he smiled, all of him, and his mustache danced I swear it, and his pea-soup green eyes flashed, and we both laughed the way you might laugh when you get some real good news, or you see a precious old face of a friend from long ago, and you just laugh because what else is there to do, and because it’s the purest happiness you’ve known.
I’ve been meaning to go back and count how many horn sharks they’ve got now, because I strung up the egg just right.