Archive for September, 2013

Apocalyptic Octopus

September 10, 2013

imageThe dark gold door creaked open, then closed, as I slid in and started the engine. Hilary sat next to me, her gym bag scrunched on the floor, in between the drive shaft and her feet. After glancing behind, I maneuvered the car in a small arc out of the slanted parking space, and faced a marsh that ended about 50 yards away in a wall of green overgrown bushes and trees behind them.
The beginning strains of “This is the End” by the Doors entered my head, and I imagined the line of foliage bursting into flame, as in Francis Ford Coppola’s film “Apocalypse Now.” We turned toward the road, our lives no less apocalyptic for having done so.

We drove to the newly redesigned Aquarium. A large curved shape extended down from an overhang of rock inside a tank.  It belonged to an octopus, which we only knew by reading the illuminated sign.
“He’s tricking us,” Hilary explained. “By looking like the rock.”
“Yes, he is,” I agreed.
She pointed to a coral colored, bumpy, shape with serrated edges stuck to the bottom of another promontory inside the tank and said, “That’s an animal too, also tricking us.”
I looked at the sign. “You’re right.  It’s a starfish.”
“I told you,” she countered. “The octopus is going to come over here.”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “He might not want us to see him.”
Two silver, four-inch dead fish lay inside, near the glass.
“Look, there’s his lunch,” I said.
“I know,” Hilary said.
Slowly, a tentacle uncoiled from behind the octopus’s head. He (or she) was on the move. The suction cups that lined its tentacles shone white in the light as the animal adhered to the glass.  Still in the shadows, its head hovered like a ghost’s. One curved tentacle framed the small, dark eye, and a line below it.
“Is that its mouth?” I asked.
“No, that’s in the middle,” Hilary assured me.
I followed the graceful, fluid flow of suction cups on the glass, and grip of the animal on it with Hilary next to me. After a few minutes, I looked down to where the tank floor met the sides. The fish were gone.
“He ate the fish!” I exclaimed.
“I know,” Hilary said.