The boat motored along, engine throttling, pistons pumping, wheels screeching…(ignore the last one). The vaguely disgusting waters of the Puget Sound flashed past in a green blur.
I stood at my usual spot, eyes faced intrepidly forward, daring grin plastered across my windburned and salt-encrusted face. My hand gripped a handle (because I definitely don’t want to go flying into the water). Islands, crowned with the evergreens that make our state famous, darted by to either side.
Other boaters, that community of tight-knit people united only by a love o’ sea and salt, where conversations consist of half-hearted waves, grinned back.
Jellyfish floated by in little dome shapes of goo, mindless and at the mercy of tide and current.
I looked back at my dad and yelled, “Almost there!”
He nodded sagely (not that he could understand what I was saying).
My mom sat at the stern, the family dog lazily reclining at her feet.
The boat abruptly slowed. My feet, splayed widely apart, kept me from flying into the briny depths of the Sound. A bobbing orange and white float provided our destination. We had arrived.
I scramble to the sea-locker and pull out our hook-pole-thing. With a sea chanty streaming from my lips I heaved away on a dripping rope. Seaweed and old boots and other treasures from the muddy bottom of the ocean came into view.
And then at the end of the line, was the true prize: a cage, replete with a seaweed tiara. Inside (hopefully) lay the end of our quest. I hauled the dripping cage, taking great care to keep my hands and fingers away from the interior, to the stern.
The cage door creaked open. Inside, scuttling in dim-witted terror, was a fine gaggle of Red Rock Crabs.
Four of the little bastards wobbled and waved claws at this flesh-colored invader. Foam bubbled about gills as they adapted to their new environment.
Fingers waggling, my hand darted in and grasped one of the crabs while its back was turned. Out from the cage and into the stern’s locker.
The next went just as easy. Then the third.
What remained was the biggest of the lot. A hoary old bugger, rust red shell encrusted with barnacles, stared me down. Stalk eyes met human eyes. A guitar strummed up and a whistle sounded.
It was high noon there on that boat. Tumbleweeds tumbled improbably across the surface of the Sound.
My knuckles cracked. His claws clacked.
It was now or never. I reached in and grabbed him. He, being the kind old soul that he was, reached around to shake my hand.
I screamed. Blood streamed from the tip of my finger. My dad rushed over concern warring with amusement. He grabbed the crab’s claw and pried it apart.
We flung the crab into the locker. To this day I swear the bastard was laughing the whole way.
Like a coffin lid, the locker closed and locked. I cradled my abused finger.
The boat sped off towards hearth and home.
We wrangled the boat out of the water and hitched it up to our truck. Downtown Olympia, a den of hobos and hippies, rattled along to either side. Twenty minutes later and we had arrived at our abode.
I cackled as I walked inside and grasped my sweet revenge. A Dutch Oven was my weapon of choice. Water tumbled in and salt was cracked into it.
The burner awoke with a whuffing roar. Bubbles of doom appeared at the bottom as the water turned from cool to boiling.
I selected a likely looking set of tongs. Maniacal laughter oozing from my throat I walked to the ice bucket in which our friends rested. There, crouched in the middle, was the hoary old bastard as what had so injured my finger.
The tongs scrabbled for purchase on his chitinous plates. Then I had a solid grip. Fear entered his eyes then.
I hesitated but then my finger throbbed in agony.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. “Nay!” I cry. It is a dish best served steaming and with butter.