Mac, the Crawfish
Even though it was past her bedtime, the woman went outside to have a cigarette on her front porch and saw something scurrying along the gutter. “A mouse!” she thought, and took a step back because she was a little squeamish. But after a minute or so, her curiosity was too much and she crept down into the street to investigate. In the dim reflection of the porch light, the creature appeared bigger than a mouse and had a shiny coat of dark armor.
“Come quick, and bring a flashlight,” she called through the window to the man inside the house.
The man hurried out and the woman told him about the creature in the gutter. He shone a beam of light along the concrete crease where the street met the curb. The woman stayed a few paces behind him.
“A crawfish!” the man exclaimed in an excited but quiet night-time voice.
Just then, an older woman with gray hair and a big dog strolled up the street toward the couple with the flashlight.
“Whatcha got there?” this second woman asked as she approached.
““I hope it's not dog food!” the man whispered.
“We think it's a crawfish,” the first woman said.
“A crawfish!” The second woman moved closer and looked at the creature illuminated by the flashlight. “That's a crawdad alright,” she confirmed.
The three people stood and silently watched the crawfish make it's way down the gutter. The dog was indifferent.
“What's a crawdad doing here?” the older woman finally wondered out loud.
“What should we do?” the younger woman wondered out loud.
The older woman advised them to put the crawfish in a jelly jar with holes poked in the lid and keep him overnight, then call the University in the morning. “Someone there will be interested that you found it here,” she speculated. “Good luck!” she said, and continued on her walk with her dog.
“What should we do?” the first woman asked the man after the older woman was gone.
They talked about the jelly jar and agreed if they kept the crawfish in the house overnight, the cats would make trouble for him. They could leave him outside in the jelly jar, but something about keeping him in a jelly jar seemed cruel. So the woman, even though she was nearly 40 years old, did what she'd always done when she didn't know what else to do.
“Dad,” she said into her cell phone when she heard the other end pick up. “We found a crawfish walking down the street and –”
“You what?” her dad said, sounding as if he'd been sleeping or had had one too many beers.
“We found a crawfish in the street and –“
“You found a what?” her dad asked again.
“A crawfish! We found a crawfish in the street!”
Her dad laughed. “You found a crawfish in the street?! What was a crawfish doing in the street?”
“We don't know,” the woman said impatiently. “What should we do with it?”
Her dad wondered where it came from and if there were any rivers or creeks nearby. The woman said she didn't think so. She thought about it some more. There were none that were walking distance for a crawfish, that was for sure.
“Well, it needs water,” her dad said.
The woman told her dad what the older woman advised and how keeping him overnight seemed cruel. “Should we find a river and just leave him there?” she asked.
“That's what I would do,” her dad said. “It needs water or it will probably die.”
The woman suddenly felt an urgency and told her dad good-bye. She left the man outside with the crawfish and ran into the house and came back with an empty pasta box that had been set aside for recycling.
“Let's scoop him up in this box and take him to the river. I know where there is a park, just outside of town.”
The man agreed and put down the box for the crawfish to get into. The crawfish scuttled right into the box. The man and the woman and the crawfish got into the car. The man held the box while the woman drove.
“Where did you come from?” the man asked the crawfish. “Where were you going? We'll never know.” The man sounded disappointed. The crawfish scratched at the cardboard.
The woman asked the man if the crawfish would have suffered in the jelly jar, if he would have been scared. The man was a scientist and the woman was an artist. Well, not really. The man studied statistics and the woman wrote ad copy for a living. The man explained the crawfish had a simple nervous system and it would not suffer in the way people think of suffering. Basically, crawfish don't care, he said.
“But why do we care, then?” the woman asked.
“Because we can care for him!” the man said.
The crawfish continued to scratch inside the cardboard box as the man and the woman discussed ethics and simple nervous systems and ecology.
“What if we are introducing an invasive species by leaving the crawfish at the river?” the woman asked.
The man said they weren't introducing it because it was already there. The only way they could potentially cause damage is if the crawfish was a pregnant female. He thought that had a low probability.
After a 20 minute drive, the woman parked the car. They could hear the water rushing in the darkness but they couldn't see it. The man and the woman followed the sound, lighting the way with the flashlight. They stumbled along the bumpy overgrown grass and on overgrown tree roots. Finally, they stumbled upon the river's edge. The man put the box down in the grass a few feet from the water and the crawfish climbed out. The crawfish started walking directly toward the water. The man shone the flashlight toward the woman so she could come closer. When he shined the beam back on the crawfish, he seemed to be gone but then there was movement in the deep grass. The crawfish continue to make it's journey toward the water.
“I guess we've done what we can do,” the man declared, and held the woman's hand.
On the way home, she said she wished they would have given the crawfish a name. The man said the crawfish didn't care if he had a name. The woman explained she wanted to name the crawfish for their own sake, so when they reminisced about him they would have something to call him other than “crawfish.”
“How about Mac,” the man suggested, “after the empty macaroni box we put him in?”
The woman thought this was a perfect name, and didn't tell the man that the empty box had actually contained “rainbow twist” pasta.
Last edited by courtney_autumn; 08-04-2012 at 08:32 PM..