Does God Let Us Kill Lobsters?
The thought of taking part in the barbaric ritual of gleaning personal wealth at the expense of innocent creatures of the sea didn’t sit well with me. But I was curious about people who killed for a living and then showed up for church every Sunday promising the Lord they’d be good stewards of the Earth.
I’ve heard the arguments — about God and stewardship, I mean. The Bible says that God granted us dominion over the animals and plants of the Earth, and therefore we get to kill them, sell them, and eat them if we want to. But when I read that passage in my Religious Studies class at EMU, I had a different take on it. I read it like a challenge. It’s like God said, “Here, take this planet. I’ll put you in charge — do whatever you want.” But secretly God’s been watching us, trying to find out whether we take good care of His planet or not. The Earth wasn’t given to us to use. It was given to us to care for.
Anyway, that’s how I read it, but obviously a lot of God-fearing people snuff the life out of harmless animals for a living. So I thought I’d tag along with Archie to see what the mystique was all about. The idea of getting up at four in the morning and spending the day on a pitching, slippery boat and hauling in things that pinch harder than I do is not my idea of a jolly outing. Frankly, I’d rather eat at Floyd’s, sleep at Suzette’s, and burn Bibles on the Coffins’ front lawn. But the Minots are decent people, I assume, — Henry’s furious cursing notwithstanding — and I wanted to see how they meshed cold-blooded murder with the raising of children in a harmonious household.
So I spent today lobstering with Archie.
The time right now is 11:35 p.m. I am sitting on a plastic milk crate in The Stump, working on battery power and typing this column with three fingers. The other seven fingers are all still here, I’m pleased to report, but they now work in creative and unusual ways that are not good for touch typing. The ring finger and pinkie on my left hand are taped together because I suspect that at least one of them is broken. Actually, I think that both of them are broken, and the pinkie is dislocated, but they’re both too puffy and purple to be terribly specific. My left thumb is in danger of losing its nail, which is currently a beetle-black shell only loosely affiliated with the flesh underneath it. And with the exception of the pointer finger, everything on my right hand responds to the slightest pressure by shooting sparklers of pain straight up to my cheekbones.
And between my tuckus and the milk crate is an inflatable kiddie’s inner tube — the green kind with the dragon’s head on it. It was the only thing I could find at Floyd’s that would allow me to sit down.
The day began at, yes, four in the morning, which coincidentally was roughly when the previous night ended. I had spent the “evening” at The Village, swapping songs on a beat-up old guitar and drinking something green out of a large bottle that we passed around. Summer was there, and Eliza, and Bo, and about a dozen other shaggy and scruffy Villagers who grew increasingly witty and entertaining with each lap of the large bottle. By midnight, we were all talented musicians who could jam and improvise lyrics with the best of the night-clubbers. By two o’clock, we were capable of twisting cosmic nuance and screaming humor out of every song John Denver ever wrote. By three, it was time to go home.
Archie showed up at The Stump at four o’clock sharp. He walked there from The Town, which means he had to wake up around two. I don’t know how he found the place. I didn’t tell him where it was, and in the dark it is easily mistaken for a moldering anthill. But there he was, at four o’freaking clock in the morning, hollering through the swarms of mosquitoes and welcoming me to join him on this glorious morn.
I was done throwing up by four-ten, and so I ate the meatloaf sandwiches that Archie had brought for my breakfast. His breakfast, he told me, consisted of a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup, five links of sausages, three slices of toast, some home fries, and two cups of coffee with cream and sugar. I barfed one more time in his honor and declared myself ready to go harpoon some lobsters.
During the entire ride to The Town — Archie drove the Island Car while I slumped in the passenger seat and tried not to think about meatloaf sandwiches — Archie explained in patient and understanding tones that you don’t actually harpoon lobsters. A harpoon, he elucidated, would shatter the lobsters’ shells and make them worthless for eating. In addition, he clarified, lobsters live on the ocean floor, while we in the boat would be on the surface of the waves. We won’t actually see the lobsters until we haul them aboard.
I knew all that, of course. Archie is a little slow when it comes to picking up humorous references. But I let him prattle on because, I hoped, it made him drive more slowly.
We arrived at the docks just as the sun was lifting its warming rays over the horizon — in France. On the north edge of Grand Seal Island, it was still as dark and cold as a zombie’s eyeball. As I held my head and tried to focus on my breathing, it occurred to me that “Zombie’s Eyeball” would make a good name for a drink. I’ll have to try it out in The Village sometime.
Archie fired up the diesel engine on the Minnow at 4:30, and off we went, out across the black and shiny sea, in search of crustaceans that most people devour only as an excuse to eat massive quantities of butter. Lobsters to New Englanders are like corn to Hoosiers. Once you add the butter and salt, you could probably remove the lobster with no measurable effect. Once the agribusiness techies figure out how to make lobster-shaped textured soy protein impregnated with artificial butter flavor, the entire coast of Maine will be plunged into economic chaos.
Now I’m going to have to admit something. Even though in The Village, sunrise is welcomed because at last you can see well enough to find some munchies before crashing, it also has a bad rap because of the whole brightness-and-glare thing. But the sunrise over the Atlantic, seen from the deck of the Minnow after all the bad stuff has been barfed out and replaced by thick meatloaf sandwiches and warm, sweet coffee, is really quite beautiful. Yellow-white at the upper rim of the sun, pink clouds and blue sky and shades of purple and orange. It looks like hope and peace and love, all rolled into a ball of light.
It looks, in fact, like Meg.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — Gemstone: Meg? Don’t you mean Eliza?
Comment — MapleLeaf249: The sunrise over the Maritimes is truly one of the best sights on earth.
Comment — Orson Van Dyke: If you watch the sunrise over the ocean on a calm and clear morning, you will sometimes see The Green Flash. It is a bright, intense burst of green light that is caused by the refraction of the sun’s rays through the curving atmosphere.
Comment — Anaconda6645: If you were injured while an invited guest on a fishing boat, you could have an actionable incident. You should take photographs of your injuries and get to a doctor who can make careful notes about the extent of the damage. Then find a good lawyer. This could be worth a lot of money.
Comment — Donovan Graham: Actually, I meant Meg. A wholesome sunrise looks nothing like Eliza.
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.