When a band of homeboys found Louise face down at the bottom of the ocean they started to eat her, but soon stopped. They didn’t like the taste of her. She tasted bitter and a lot like ammonia. They thought about trying again until they saw Louie the Large coming. When they did they backed off, wary and respectful. Good or bad, it was up to Louie to decide.
He was just shy of 40 pounds and nearly 100 years old. Most lobsters are less than 10 pounds and less than 20 years old. All the fishermen who had ever seen him called him Jumbo. Unlike most lobsters, who are usually green or yellow, he was bright blue. Everybody could see him a mile away, which was a good thing for them. Louie had a fearsome temper and didn’t take guff from anybody. Lobsters can swim forward and backward. When it’s an emergency they scuttle away in reverse by curling and uncurling their tails rapidly. Louie never did that. He never went backwards. He always went forward.
He had never been caught by any fisherman and was determined to keep it that way. He put his heart and soul into staying alive. He had no use for landlubbers trying to boil him. Whenever he saw a lobster pot in action he spit and went his own way. He wasn’t interested in herring laid out as bait. He ate everything but didn’t especially like herring, anyway. Even though he didn’t have lungs or vocal cords, he could talk when he had something to say. His voice sounded like a crackly violin. His brain was the size of the tip of a ball point pen. He didn’t do a lot of thinking. He didn’t have to. He pushed his weight around. That’s how he got things done. It was the way of the world.
Fishermen used to throw the shells of lobsters into landfills. Somebody started making the core of golf balls out of the shells. It became the ball of choice for golfing on cruise ships. Whenever a shot got shanked into the sea, the ball biodegraded. The inventor won an environmental award. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster had happened three years ago, and the ecology movement was looking for good news.
Louie had seen plenty of his friends and enemies biodegrading. He liked it better in the old days when his kith and kin were considered poor man’s food, even though they were so plentiful they were often used as fertilizer, feed for farm animals, and even fishing bait. They were eaten by servants and served to prisoners. Orphanages had more lobster than they knew what to do with. He liked it even better that Jews were forbidden to eat shellfish altogether. It almost made him a God-fearing crustacean.
He went at Louise like he would any buffet. When he started eating her he kept eating until he was so bloated he couldn’t eat anymore. His teeth were in his stomach, right behind his eyes. He lay down on top of what was left of Louise and burped. He took a pee. Lobsters urinate through the green spots near their antennae. He went to sleep. He did his best digesting when he was asleep. He was going to be sleeping for the rest of the day. The other lobsters sighed and went away, looking for worms, crabs, mollusks, or anything.
Louie stayed near Louise most of the rest of the week, eating, burping, and sleeping. When there wasn’t much of her left he moved on. He was always hungry and always looking for his next bite. He used his walking legs and his tail like a locomotive’s connecting rod to slowly crawl ahead. He never went the wrong way. He crawled away following a well-worn trail on a rock shelf. He was a rock lobster. He was slow motion in the ocean. He spent most of his life at the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Louise was nobody when Louie got done with her. Nobody cared about her anymore. Before long nobody knew she had ever even existed.