Remember that asteroid belt of giant “hermit crabs” out in the bay 3o feet from this table? I plucked a shell this afternoon while swimming and inside found no crab but instead a rubbery conch-like creature with cartoon eyes. I was looking at them. They looked back at me. A photographic urge rose within me.
I returned the beast to the bottom of the sea and paddled back in front of the house. I selected another, smaller one that wasn’t paired up or in a three-way. I didn’t want to break up any parties. I exited the bay a bit creaturelike myself, lurching up to Ada to show her my find like a big kitty cat with a dead bird offering. Only this dead bird was a living sea monster with one paddle shaped flipper where a claw was supposed to be and one googly eye on the end of a lengthening proboscis. Technically it wasn’t a proboscis because it wasn’t a feeding tube but this guy was certainly feasting on sensory information with it.
Ada was duly amazed but her approach was more along the lines of see no evil know no evil. Earlier it was my job to drag her through the infested zone. We had a symbiotic relationship in which she protected my back from the sun and I freed her from stepping on the spiny carapaces littering the seafloor. The extra weight meant that I was stepping for two and every few steps Ada’s smooth ride would register a tremble of fear and loathing as I hit a living sea mine. I had asked, “Do you want to see one?” No.
Back in the present the tentacle eyes are lenghtening in curious erection out of the shell. It’s trying to mate with me! I race for the camera before anything radical happens but when it does I’m too shocked to take the picture. The eye, now on the end of an inch long tube the thickness of a toothpick, keeps extending from the depths of the shell. Way too quickly for comfort the rest of the creature attached to the eye pops out along with it. I’m a few inches from this event but I’m looking though the camera’s eye all I can see is the whole world very quickly getting large and menacing and out of focus.
It’s a good thing I never tried a career in nature photography because my overruling instinct is to shriek like a little girl, drop the harmless animal, and leap away like a crocodile just exploded out of the bay. Ada’s right there in her crappy plastic chair enjoying the show. Chagrined and determined to man up and document whatever the hell just came out of that shell, I pick up the shell and hope for a second chance.
Which I get almost immediately. Too soon, in fact. I’m just not ready for it. Again the childish shriek, the dropping and the leaping. Again the shame. And that was my last chance, folks. Mr. mystery creature was done playing games with the giant land monster. Between the twenty storey drop and the banshee treatment it was too traumatized for further participation. It really wanted to get back out to one of those slug beast threesomes but was willing to wait me out indefinitely.
I waded out and found a promising looking couple for him. It was the least I could do.
Then I went in search of less threatening research subjects.