I grew up in Westwego, LA. Westwego is about a ten-minute drive from New Orleans. New Orleans is on the Eastbank of the Mississippi River, and Westwego is on the Westbank. Where I was raised was walking distance from canals, swamps, bayous, and lakes, and as a kid, I spent countless hours in and by the water. When I was in 5th and 6th grade, my best friend was Jerry. Jerry and I did everything together. We were always sleeping at each other’s houses, and we were always going on an adventure. Jerry didn’t have a bike, so he would either jump on my handlebars or the pegs in the back, and we would go exploring.
Often we would find ourselves fishing in one of the canals near our houses, usually catching perch, bass, and sometimes turtles! Lots of turtles! And—different kinds! Snapping Turtles, Loggerhead Snapping Turtle, and Red-eared Sliders. One particular time, we were deep into Bayou Segnette, and we hooked something big on our fishing pool! I remember pulling it out of the water, so excited to see we caught a Red-eared Slider that was over a foot around! It was huge! Upon full inspection, we noticed that this turtle only had one eye, and immediately these two homosexuals’ hearts crumbled and decided that we had to bring this turtle home and raise it. Oh yeah, by the way, Jerry and I are now both queer.
We always carried a bucket with us. Barely fitting, we were able to get the turtle in the bucket and ride the bike home to introduce it to its new home—my mom’s treasured goldfish/koi pond.
Let’s backtrack a bit. When I was in kindergarten, we moved into a new house. The new home featured a large fenced-in backyard, and my dad installed an above-ground pool. When the pool came down for the Winter, the hole in the ground was holding water, and my mom decided to put goldfish in it. When it became Spring the following year, it was time for a new pool, so the fish had to go! So, my dad built my mom a beautiful brick pond in the front yard. It was underneath two large trees, and it was gorgeous. My mom collected bells, so my dad made the pond into the shape of a bell. It had a deep and shallow side and featured a beautiful water feature that also doubled as a birdbath. It was beautiful.
So, back to the turtle, which by the way, we named One-eye Willie.
Once we got home with the turtle, we start talking about what to do with it! We didn’t think about this part of the story… So, I had a great idea—as I always did… Let’s put the turtle in the goldfish pond! So, that is exactly what we did. We walked over, dropped the turtle in, watched it swim for a second, and then left.
What didn’t we think of… hmmm… What will it eat? Where will it go when it wants to sunbathe? We didn’t think of anything but putting the turtle in my mom’s pond. About a week later, my mom fed her fish, and no fish came up to eat the food. She came into the house and announced that all of her fish are gone. She thought maybe a bird had eaten them.
I’m sorry, mom. I put an enormous green Red-eared Slider Turtle in your pond, and it ate all of your fish, then left.
I’m sorry. I love you.
Westley Hodges (they/them)
© 2020, Westley Hodges (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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