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The Rational Shrimp (Part 2)I was up late the night of the day I awoke a shrimp to the use of human reason. To get my mind off things, I decided to go to school for anthropology.Four years later I was spelunking the recently unveiled Mayan caves in the forests of Guatemala and Yucatan. They were tunnels of amber-colored rock which went on and on, winding up and down, side to side. They werenít quite as human-shaped like I remembered in that documentary my friend showed me the day before, where the pathways interestingly had a little extra space for the head and shoulders. They were more like the shape of an eye or the meeting place of a Ven Diagram turned sideways. In fact, the floor and ceiling were so smooth they were almost polished, as if by water. There was a long way to go, so we went fast, almost running, up and down, side to side. I spelunked those caves, let me tell you; I spelunked them all the way to Australia.In Australia, my team and I stood on a very bare, light sandy beach on a bright, sunny day. I had almost forgotten about the team; they, a man and a woman, were always behind me, even though I was the youngest member and not the leader. We were there to survey the wildlife, looking out for anything unusual, but before getting started, I stared off into the ocean horizon. It was peaceful, the only sound coming from the gentle waves. I almost forgot why I was here. Eventually, I noticed that the team, again behind me, was talking about a creature that washed up in front of my feet.Once my eyes shifted their focus, we gazed at the creature with the same stillness as I had had over the water. Each of us took turns murmuring about what we saw, our voices never rising above the waves, searching for words and not finding them. Least of all did I know how I felt about it. I felt many feelings though, fascination and eeriness among them.It was a crustacean; that much I have established. If I had to narrow it down to one creature which I know exists, my first thought would have been a lobster. But that canít be all; itís face was much too human. But it wasnít a human face. It was as if the shell over the face of the crustacean had been reshaped to have just the essential proportions and featuresóblurred together as they wereóof a human face, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, but without awkwardly jutting off from its body. It had a pinkish shell over most of its body, but the face was almost white. What expression did it have?óor, did it have an expression, really?óit was, after all, a solid shell over the flesh of its face, wasnít it? Was it simply a blank, neutral face, or had some shock fixed it to a frozen stupor? The creature was completely still, my body was still, even my eyes were still upon the creature, but the image would not stay still on my mind. It shifted, my mind toyed with it, it danced; it shifted color, it became transparent, it lost color; it dimmed, it brightened. But none of these changes were dramatic; sometimes I forgot I was looking at it and thinking about it while it was before my eyes. The face also slightly reminded me of a catís face, probably owing to its meeting somewhere between that of a man and a crustacean. But its body was more like the size and proportion of a cat, a fat housecat. That crustacean was so fleshy and fat, the ridges of its shell-segments were all pressed and flattened together. Whatever questions troubled me over one feature or another, concerning its place in the animal kingdom, its legs and crust declared its station.And so, the more I looked, the less my mind cared to know what it was doing, the less my affections cared to be affected. I donít remember what happened between here and our return to the eye-shaped cave tunnels, but that was our next destination, home. I trusted one of the more senior team-members had taken whatever samples or pictures were necessary and that there was no more to be done. We were rushing even more quickly this time, I suppose because it was getting late, but it didnít seem entirely necessary. It isnít as if we depended on sunlight in there. Come to think of it, Iím not sure where our dim lighting was coming from. They were behind me, pressing me on, the two of them discussing the way to go. Apparently, we took a different tunnel back, because we were just going up and up and up. Why didnít we take this tunnel on the way over?I did not reflect on these things until I got home and had slept.
'Don't Let It Be A Bunny'I worked at this gigantic department store in 2016. Keene was the place to shop for many surrounding rural towns, but we were by no means in a big city, so I never did get how we kept up such a massive building. We never came close to filling its shelves, though it seemed I did nothing else but stock them.
But one day I was the one being stalked, stalked by a bunny, a bunny rabbit after my right finger. Wherever I worked, filling this shelf, mopping that floor, lounging in the lounge, I would turn aside one moment and there he was, with his mouth over my finger. Why are you doing that? Apart from his unexplainable behavior, he looked natural, no real expression on his face. Why are you so persistent? I didn’t want to find out, so whenever he appeared, I would quickly remove my finger and go somewhere else, before he might start biting.
The Rational ShrimpIn the winter of twenty-sixteen,
One of the oddest things happened to me;
On a break of a rare sunny day,
Parked my feet in the lot ‘hind Ocean State;
Where the semi-trucks take ’ their tea.
It was unusually warm for February, so I took a walk through Peterborough, my mind in a restful mode, passing behind the department store, when by an inspiration I pulled out my notebook. I wrote the thought which came to me, a maxim about the relationship between man and the animals. This topic was much on my mind at the time and I had undergone unexpected, even reluctant shifts in worldview. But I cannot remember what I wrote for two reasons. First, because I wrote it in Italian, but I don’t know Italian. Second, because soon the words disappeared from my paper.
Walking around in my hom