Thursday, August 21, 2008

Too Wild

Daddy rarely spoke to me, unless I was in trouble. So, I expected this time would be no different.

Two weeks earlier, while I was seven years old, I had approached him and asked if I could keep my turtle inside his water tank. The tank was actually a bathtub he had found somewhere around the neighborhood and hauled back to our house. He kept it outside in the shade next to our house, partly filled with green water, algae, a few catfish, perch, and a floating log for his two turtles to rest. It was a haven for mosquito larvae.

I had caught my turtle in the creek down the street; and I was proud of its uniqueness. It was smaller than daddy’s turtles which were light green and fairly docile. My turtle was a fighter, dark gray with a strong beak and thick shell. It had led me on a high speed chase through Crawfish Creek and down a dark, snake infested tunnel to catch it.

“I know who’s been killing my fish,” said daddy, looking suspiciously at me.
I could feel the energies draining from my body as I thought, “Great! Here we go again.” I had assumed he was talking about me.

Each day, I had been feeding breadcrumbs to the tank; but stopped when I heard that some of his fish had been killed. I hoped to avoid getting blamed, but I was apparently too late.

An awkward silence settled around us, as I looked down at the tank and floating fish, wondering how daddy would tie it to me. He had an effective method of placing blame. He simply defied us—my siblings and I—to deny his accusations; else the punishment might be more severe.

I wished I hadn’t come. “Why didn’t I play longer with my friends,” I thought.

Then the silence broke.

“It was that bad ass turtle of yours,” he said, “I caught it baiting one of my fish when I came home today.”

I looked down at my turtle, innocently sitting on the log. The larger turtles seemed to fear it, as they kept their distance.

“He’s too wild,” said Daddy with an almost proud tone, “Take it back to the creek.”

I was relieved and happily carried out his order.